Setting the News Agenda in Transport

Chris Walton is Editor-in-Chief at DVV Media, responsible for publishing some of the most influential titles in road transport, not to mention running the hugely successful Freight in the City Expo at Alexandra Palace. This month we catch up with him as he settles into his new role to find out how he’s got there and understand his approach in a world where information is being consumed in vastly different ways to days gone by.

If you haven’t heard of DVV Media International I wouldn’t blame you, but you’ve probably come across one of our magazines – Commercial Motor; Motor Transport and Truck & Driver… but that’s not all we do.

If you have a professional interest in haulage and logistics in the UK you’ve most likely been to one of our websites – Commercialmotor.com or Motortransport.co.uk among many others – and if not, what are you playing at??!! Or maybe you’ve been to one of our events – Freight in the City; Tip-ex and Tank-ex or the Motor Transport Awards? And that’s just our Road business, we have an Air; Rail and HR and Recruiter Services business too. You get the picture.

I started as a journalist in 2002 and spent five years writing about the IT market. Then I dabbled in pubs and bars (professionally, I’m not confessing to a problem!) before joining the road transport family in 2008.

At the time I didn’t know my Moffett from my Palfinger, let alone appreciate the role that haulage and logistics plays in the UK economy. However, as I’ve progressed through a variety of journalistic roles across our portfolio I’ve come to appreciate what a far-reaching and varied sector this is.

What intrigues me is the way this industry is changing the way it consumes information. We have our loyal print readers, who have grown up reading ‘The’ Commercial Motor or ‘The’ Motor Transport throughout their working lives, but today we have a whole new readership, that make our stories or videos viral hits on Facebook, or give us that immediate feedback (both positive and negative) on Twitter, or sign up for email newsletters. This gives our business much more depth – with a much more diverse audience that our advertisers, sponsors and exhibitors can reach.

My job is two-fold. One, I have to ensure that anything we publish, host or exhibit is done so for a reason, that an article or seminar speaker or award category resonates with our audience and delivers value for our customers. Secondly, I have to ensure that our products speak the language of the industry – as one of my mentors put it: “if the industry calls a spade a f***ing shovel, we call it a f***ing shovel”.

This is something that anyone in the PR or communications industry should understand when approaching us. Our audience is the one that hires (and fires) the PR company. They understand that news is the thing you don’t want people to know, and that everything else is advertising. They are playing the game just as much as you are. Just because there is a nice press release to be written that will give a PR company a great advertising equivalent metric to report back to the client, doesn’t mean that our audience actually cares.

DVV filters through this noise, and gives the road transport industry the information it really wants, in the way it wants to consume it.

If any haulage, logistics, PR or comms professionals would like to get in touch about what our suite of products can do for your business, then email me: christopher.walton@roadtransport.com or follow me on Twitter @rtm_ChrisWalton

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