Politico has reshuffled the six-strong team writing its London Playbook daily email newsletters as it prepares for the general election expected in the UK later this year.
Rosa Prince, who has edited Playbook since February 2023, has been promoted to be Politico’s deputy UK editor and will no longer write the agenda-setting morning newsletter, and Playbook reporter Noah Keate has moved to Politico’s live news team.
Who’s writing London Playbook?
Dan Bloom, who was already on the newsletter team, has been promoted to senior Playbook author, and will write alongside new author additions Sam Blewett and Stefan Boscia.
Boscia joins from the Politico Trade team and Blewett from PA Media, where he has been deputy political editor since 2021. Reporter Andrew McDonald will write the Friday edition of the Playbook PM afternoon newsletter, which launched in late 2022.
Also joining the line-up of Playbook contribitors is reporter Bethany Dawson, who takes on the newly-created role of Playbook Diary reporter to keep readers across “conversations that matter, who’s spotted where [and] the chatter in the tearoom”.
Kate Day, deputy editor-in-chief for Politico in Europe, told Press Gazette Dawson had “shown herself to be particularly great at the kind of stories that get Westminster talking, and we really want to have a bit more of that in Playbook into the election”.
As well as the upcoming vote, Day said the changes were in part driven by a simple need to boost editing capacity. “We’ve added a lot of reporters in the last year,” she said.
In December 2022 Politico had 18 journalists in London, a figure that shot up to more than 30 within the following two months. A year on, the publisher’s Westminster office now employs approximately 40 people in editorial roles and a further 20 in commercial ones.
Day said Politico sees the next general election, which is widely expected before the end of the year, as “an opportunity to continue our growth” by growing its audience.
“We still think there are more people out there who could love Politico and should read Politico. So we want to reach them, and an election is a great moment to do that.”
How Politico grew in a tough year for news businesses
Politico is one of few publishers to see growth, rather than decline, in 2023. Even its sister Axel Springer title Business Insider announced plans to lay off some 8% of staff last month.
Day said she thought Politico’s resilience was down to its focus on “a very well-defined audience”, which she described as “people with an interest in politics, often with a professional stake in politics in some capacity…
“That has kept us very focused on a somewhat narrow audience that we engage with deeply.”
Politico UK brings in roughly as much revenue from its subscription product, Politico Pro, as it does from advertising. “I think that has proved itself to be incredibly valuable in the current climate,” Day said.
“We’re not reliant just on advertising, which for everybody is a somewhat volatile market. We also have deep relationships with subscribers and a subscriber base, and so having the two halves of our business has stood us in good stead through pretty tricky times.”
Even without the diversification, Day said Politico UK had grown its advertising income year-on-year.
Politico Pro, too, has grown. Pro is not a single consumer-focused subscription product but rather a range of sector-specific policy information services, including Playbook-style daily newsletters, access to which is sold directly to relevant businesses.
The first of those newsletters in the UK, Politico Pro Trade UK, launched in 2020 as UK trade policy diverged from that of the European Union for the first time in decades. In 2023 the business added technology and energy verticals, and a financial services vertical will be launching on 20 February.
Politico expands podcast slate
Politico’s newsletters and B2B products are increasingly being joined by an audio slate. Its longer-form Westminster Insider podcast began its 13th season on Friday, and in the past year the brand added weekly podcasts Politics at Jack and Sam’s and Power Play.
“It feels like everybody’s launching a podcast,” Day said, “but we feel – and we’re seeing in the audience numbers – we seem to be offering something a little bit different, that’s quite complementary and still feels very Politico.
“We made our name in newsletters and we’ve translated that into audio in a way that I think is very exciting. And that will be a big part of our election push, for sure.”
For now, the podcasts certainly seem to be paying for themselves.
“We’re selling out of seasons of podcasts,” Day said. “The demand from my business colleagues has been: ‘Give me more!’
“The challenge is actually, usually, to come up with ideas that we think are really distinctive and that can add an audience and still feel like they’re convincingly Politico.”
[Earlier this month: Politico embraces generative AI web crawlers with website redesigns]
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