Analysis

Moving on: Dan Jones on his new role at the Mail on Sunday

Lucy Cottrell

Dan Jones has become something of an institution at The Sun, leading its consumer and personal finance coverage for close to a decade. This week he started as the new Consumer Affairs and Technology Editor at the Mail on Sunday, a new role created especially for him.

Dan spoke exclusively to MHP Mischief’s James Rollinson at a breakfast event at the Ivy Club in Soho.

Cost of living set to dominate the news agenda

Dan says the cost of living crisis will continue to dominate the media in 2022 – particularly what it means for consumers and their spending habits. He wants to hear from brands and organisations that have propositions in place to look after their consumers, including deals and support payment plans. He has a word of advice for companies who are increasing their prices – be honest! Consumers and journalists will always find out, so businesses should proactively communicate price changes and their justification for the increase.

Campaigns a priority

Campaigns will be a major focus for the Mail on Sunday and he is looking out for issues to focus on and brands to partner with. Dan stressed the importance of focusing on issues that directly affect the Mail on Sunday’s slightly older readership, and urged any brands contacting him to think big. Dan cautioned brands they shouldn’t expect to be front and centre of a campaign, but there is absolutely scope to work together on important issues.

Research your research

Dan’s not a fan of survey stories saying too many were obvious and self-serving. To be effective Dan says consumer research needs to tell a wider story and reveal a genuinely new trend or insight. One example was a survey story he received a few years ago about how the contents of a school lunchbox had changed over the past 20 years, which Dan complimented for being interesting and different. Dan also added that research can be effective when used to give further insight into a brand’s proprietary data.

Early exclusives key to coverage

Dan also explained the different pressures of working for a weekly operation. The Sunday papers are trailblazers, setting the dialogue and news agenda for the week ahead and as such, all stories should be exclusive and pitched early. Dan ideally wants to be pitched ideas on a Monday or Tuesday so he has sufficient time to investigate, analyse data, source additional information and work with PRs on the messaging. As paper fills up towards the back end of the week it becomes much trickier for brands and stories to make the Sunday paper.

Time to get out and meet again

In news that will no doubt be music to PR ears, Dan stressed how keen he is to get back out to meet contacts in person again. While Zoom calls are fine for short interviews and briefing, nothing beats an honest conversation in person, particularly when discussing big and complex issues. With daily news conferences no longer part of Dan’s schedule, he is aiming to arrange at least two breakfasts a week to meet brands and PRs to chat about stories. The Mail on Sunday’s office is based in Kensington High Street, so a willingness to travel to West London will no doubt serve PRs well.

We look forward to seeing what Dan Jones brings to the Mail on Sunday – watch this space!

To watch the highlights from our recent event with Dan Jones, please see below.