Analysis

MHP Mischief Media Network:
The Daily Mirror’s Graham Hiscott on what he wants in a story

Abi Smith

As Head of Business and Consumer at the Daily Mirror, Graham Hiscott has perfected the art of telling business news through a consumer lens, ensuring it appeals to the paper’s slightly older, left-leaning readership.

With almost 15 years of experience, Graham knows what makes a great story for the Mirror. This week he spoke exclusively to MHP Mischief’s James Rollinson at a brunch event at 180 The Strand

Watch the highlights from our recent event with Graham Hiscott

Shade needs to be balanced with light

After more than two years of near-constant heavy news, PRs would be forgiven for wondering if there is now less space for lighter, brand-led content. The past few weeks have been no different, with Boris Johnson’s resignation and the resulting Tory leadership contest.. But Graham said editors are always looking to balance ‘the light and the shade’ within the paper, meaning there is always a place for a positive, light-hearted stories.

In fact, if could even be worth actively pitching them ahead of a heavy news day, as it’s just what many news and business desks may be after.

Be human

The best stories are human stories, says Graham. They need to be relevant and relatable. A good case study can be the difference between a nib and a page lead, so brands should consider them as a central part of any story, not an afterthought.

The same goes for profile pieces. Graham and his team want to hear from business leaders, especially those from humble beginnings with a story to tell. His readers aren’t interested in corporate speak and stuffy messaging, they want to read about aspirational stories from people they can relate to.

Cost-of-living stories should be advice-led

Graham predicts October’s rise of the energy price gap will turn the cost-of-living crisis will into the dominant news story once again. He is constantly looking for new ways to help his readers save money and get on top of their personal finances, so tips-led stories will always grab their attention.

Graham also writes a column every Monday which he described as an ‘open goal’ for PRs with commentary or advice to land. Op-eds rarely get a look in at the Mirror unless attributed to a very well known figure, such as a politician, so the column can be a good alternative.

Bringing back the sustainability agenda 

The pandemic hit at an unfortunate time for the green agenda, just as it was really making headway. Since then, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, Russia-Ukraine conflict – not to mention the developments at Number 10 – has made it even harder for sustainability stories to carry the same weight in the paper.

The Mirror has always been supportive of the green agenda, and Graham is eager to see its return. However, stories must work for his audience. Mirror readers are unlikely to be shopping for new EVs or investing in expensive green tech, but if there is something that can help them go greener at little cost or convenience, then it could be a winner

A picture can tell a thousand words

Pictures can make or break a business story. If a story comes with great images, you will have two people pushing for it in an editorial meeting (Graham and the picture editor), so it will always have a much better chance of making the final cut.

Graham says it’s always worth considering commissioning your own pictures to give a story an extra boost, and save the picture desk going to a picture wire. If you can combine a tips-led piece with a strong case study and a compelling image, you’re on to a winner.