Politico outlines plans to ‘double in size’ in Europe, starting with London hires

In the last six months Politico has made big waves in Europe, hiring 32 journalists in Brussels for what it claims to be the largest newsroom covering politics and policy in the capital.

Now the U.S. political title has outlined plans to “double in size” in Europe, starting with some major staff hires in London, and a 2016 expansion road map for its Pro subscription product.

Former Wall Street Journal global finance editor Francesco Guerrera has been brought in to lead the charge as chief financial correspondent and associate editor, based out of London.

The title has also appointed former digital content director at The Telegraph Kate Day, who started today in the role of editorial director, growth. She will head up new ways to grow the title’s audience across all Politico platforms in Europe, and will be based in Brussels.

Two new reporters are also set to join the London outfit: European media correspondent Alex Spence, and healthcare reporter Helen Colly.

Politico, which operates a hybrid subscription-advertising business model, launched in Europe last September as a joint venture with German digital media publisher Axel Springer.

The launch included a website, paid digital subscription services and events, as well as print editions distributed in Brussels, and at political and transport hubs in other major European centres such as London, Paris and Berlin.

With Brussels the seat of the European Commission, Politico staffed up quickly, and now claims an average monthly online audience of more than one million unique visitors.

“We are focusing on the power markets,” said Gabriel Brotman, Politico Europe’s executive director of strategy, marketing and growth, adding that there is untapped opportunity in political journalism in London.

Beefing up its London team will mean it is in a good position to capitalize on major U.K political news such as Britain’s proposed exit from the EU (“Brexit,” as it has been coined in the media), according to Brotman. There are no plans to launch a U.K. specific site.

The hires were announced to staff this morning in an internal memo from Politico Europe’s management team, which includes executive editor Matt Kaminski, managing director Sheherazade Semsar, editor-in-chief John Harris and managing editor Carrie Budoff Brown.

Politico Europe’s Pro subscription product, which offers deep dives into specialist areas relating to politics and policy, will also be expanded to include a new financial services vertical and new policy areas agriculture, food and trade.  This will give it six policy coverage areas by next Spring, and it will hire the “necessary editorial firepower” in Brussels and other cities to support it.

In the memo to staff Pro was described as performing “better than anticipated” in Europe, having built a subscriber base of more than 100 private and government organizations, within six weeks of launch.

Its Pro Europe product is bought by organizations rather than individuals and therefore comes in annual packages that range from four to five figures, according to Brotman.

Douglas McCabe, chief executive of Enders Analysis, said on a “superficial level” the market for political news is saturated, with competition from the likes of the BBC, Financial Times, The Economist, and Bloomberg, which is also expanding in Europe, to mention a few.

However, he said Politico’s specialist focus, along with its “narrative journalism” style — as opposed to the news-driven more common at established European media players — makes it “unique”.

“Much of the coverage from established news-driven outlets will focus for example on ‘what politician x says on a day to day basis’,” said McCabe. “But Politico is good at covering the long-term issues that are being addressed by various policy updates, and there isn’t a massive competitive set in that area.”

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