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Focus Interview with Andy Barrett, managing editor of MI Pro

Intent Media’s MI Pro is a monthly trade magazine for musical instrument retailers and pro audio resellers. Here managing editor, Andy Barrett tells us more about what the title covers and how PRs can contribute to the title.

About the publication:

Who reads it and how many of them are there?
MI Pro is read by nearly 6,000 musical instrument retailers, musical instrument manufacturers and suppliers, music educators and educational establishments, industry associations, as well as a good number of musicians and musical groups, such as brass bands and orchestras. The odd audio professional will sneak a peek at the magazine as well – although will usually keep it secret and only admit to reading MI Pro’s sister publication: Audio Pro International.

What subjects do you cover?
MI Pro covers the news of manufacturer, supplier and retailer, whether regarding the boardroom, distribution deals, personnel and appointments, as well, of course, the central aspect of the entire industry… the gear. Whether Krum horns or software, accordions or zithers, if it is on the market, it will have been (or will be) in MI pro magazine.

Aside from this, MI Pro interviews personalities within the business, profiles companies, major and minor, and peppers the whole caboodle with opinions and analysis. If one is an MI professional, MI Pro is the only magazine that enable keeps the industry in touch with itself.

What makes you different from the other publications in your sector?
The fact the MI Pro is the only one. Over the past nine years (MI Pro was launched in December 1999) the magazine has seen off competition from no fewer than three competitor magazines – four if you count the one that began a launch campaign, but then thought better of it.

Unfortunately for competitors in this field, no other magazine has ever been able to encapsulate the industry, what it does, what it stands for, what interests it, better than MI Pro. As a result, advertisers realise that there is simply no point going elsewhere to get their message out to the business.

Do you produce a features list?
Of course.

A features list enables both readers and advertisers to plan their own campaigns for the MI trade around what MI Pro is doing. Suppliers can organise the dissemination of information to coincide with an MI pro market sector spotlight and co-ordinate their advertising accordingly for the maximum effect.

About PRs:

Do you work closely with PRs (e.g. for supplements, round tables, events) or do you keep them at arm’s length?
PR agents and officers are crucial as approximately 80 percent of our leads come from press releases.

Do you have any advice for PRs?
Avoid corporate ‘blah’. Say what you want to say briefly and accurately. Don’t think you can ‘out-write’ a journalist. Even if you can, you will only piss him off.

What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
Any announcement of business deals or product launch, of course, but usually what they don’t say.

What’s the best starting point for a PR who wants to tell you about their client?
Send an email saying “here’s my client, this is what they do. These are their products, this is why their products have been launched… and this is the guy who organises advertising.”

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & what is your deadline for contributions?
Product info should be in six weeks before the 1st of the month. News two weeks later. My team and I are easily contactable at all times, but deadline week tends to make us a bit brusque sometimes.

About you:

Where have you worked previously and what led to you becoming managing editor for MI Pro?
Any and all manner of jobs from window cleaner to musician, via English teacher.

What interests you most about your job?
Being in and around the people who make music making possible for the music makers. While musicians are doubtless the sexy side of the music business, the musical instrument trade is where the innovations and refinements that make a musician’s progress as a musician possible.

Describe a typical day at work:
7:30, M40, M25
9:00, Office, tea, emails
10am to 4pm, responses, researching, phone calls, rumours, follow ups, writing, looking for suitable pictures.
4pm to 6pm tea, emails, withering brain functions, dribbling
6pm (ish) M25, M40, home

I’d like to have a go at…
Or did you mean something like:

‘What’s wrong with these people who think that a photograph of two people shaking hands, or standing shoulder to shoulder leaving a large blank space in the centre of the picture making the focal point…. A wall!
Get up close for pictures so we can focus on the people, not the painting and decorating.

While I’m at it, pictures of a wee head bobbing about at the base of a photo while a huge company logo looms large overhead on the outside wall or above the foyer. Does anyone want to look at a logo?
We want to see people.

Oh, and ‘can we view copy before publication?’
No – if you want an advert, please talk to the sales manager. I mean, honestly…

Where do you hope to be in five year’s time?
Maybe a 16 or two up on the size of the mag, celebrating issue 175, with a page rate that affords me and my team tasty and regular bonuses. Otherwise, continuing to be the indispensable publication for the MI trade.

It’s not only rock n roll, but we like it all…
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