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Some of the best food publications in Britain – Smoking Gun PR

Continuing on the current epicurean theme of our public relations agency blog- with that recent guide to fabulous food blogs, and Wednesday’s cheesy infographic– we’ve been hard at work analysing the finest print titles in this area of the media. And, as you might have expected, there are plenty of big fish in this saturated end of the magazine and supplement market, so this was no small task.
We shouldn’t need to say, but will do anyway, that almost all national papers offer some supplementary food content at least once a month in their Sunday editions, if not more regularly via the weekday copy. Of these, The Observer Food Monthly is without question top of the pile in terms of prestige, and not just because it was awarded overall Supplement of the Year at the Press Awards back in March.
Published every third Sunday, opportunities are obviously highly sought after but nevertheless available for restaurant reviews, product inclusion, launch news and more. The Times and Financial Times each have offerings along the same lines, with far higher readerships, albeit their online reach is much more limited thanks to paywalls and compulsory accounts, meaning The Independent,  The Telegraph, and Daily Mail may win out in terms of overall exposure.
On a regional level, again the big guns are dominant. Birmingham’s Sunday Mercury and Birmingham Mail cover edibles (and drinkables) in much the same way as the countrywide titles, won Best Midlands Newspaper five times in ten years, and claimed the title of ‘Britain’s Best Regional Read’ not so long ago. Similarly, London’s Evening Standard and the Manchester Evening News (the latter being the largest circulation regional in the country) also have dedicated sections in ES Magazine and City Life respectively, including reviews, recipes, and columnists.
Although often less widely read than those newsprint giants, magazines are particularly fertile when it comes to food and drink at the moment. Trade stalwarts such as The Grocer (for retail), Food & Drink Network UK, FMCG News, and Food & Drink News are all majors B2Bs boasting influential readerships with plenty of buying power. The more upmarket, fine food and drink industry title Speciality Food Magazine is the biggest currently being targeted at gourmet producers, wholesalers and retailers.

In terms of consumer outlets, BBC Good Food is the most bought, and holds a place in the top 30 paid-for magazines of any kind in the country. Or at least it did when The Guardian put together this Top 100 list last year. It’s recipe focussed, so anyone not involved in the domestic cuisine market may find Olive more useful, also published by Auntie, which scraped the same list (coming in at number 100), but nevertheless is well respected amongst “food lovers who enjoy cooking, eating out and foodie travel”. Today it boasts a circulation of 70,596 per issue.
The award winning Food & Travel Magazine is beautiful and very highly regarded too. It also runs its own Reader Awards, with categories ranging from Long Haul Airline of the Year to Rural Restaurant of the Year, and has a heavy emphasis on reader competitions and offers, which are well worth considering for marketing purposes. And all this is before we come to the so-called ‘new generation’ of sleek, niche food titles that have emerged in recent years.

Our favourite of which must be The Gourmand, pegged as a ‘journal’, it offers space to everything from features on musicians to travel and commentary, the only caveat being there must be some association with food and drink. Presented more like a design magazine (expensive matte paper etc.)- the layout and photography are stunning, and whilst it’s far smaller in terms of audience, the affluent, youthful (though not necessarily young) professional types that read care enough about clean lines and tasty menus to pay for a premium product, which is the kind of community brands often want to tap into. Plenty worth considering before the next campaign then, if you have any other suggestions for our list please don’t hesitate to add them via the comments form below.

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