By Sahil Jaidka, Stuart Martin and Emma Smith
Anne Mackenzie, Regional Distribution Manager for The Big Issue, Scotland and Derek Sharples, National Sales Administration Manager for The Big Issue, UK, conducted a fascinating session looking closely at the relationship between street vendors and the publications themselves. The two hour seminar sought to address a number of questions, from street paper distribution and pitch management to sales training, incentive schemes and other methods of support.
Alan Attwood, Editor of The Big Issue Australia and Mike Reilly, co-Founder of Global Writers discussed the importance of reaching a balance within the content of street papers. Whilst a main priority of street papers is to highlight social issues such as poverty and homelessness, they must also maintain their appeal to readers and offer something unique. Alan believes editors can work as activists through their publication but he stressed the importance of producing a street paper that will still sell as he believes the papers ultimately exist to provide vendors with an income.
Tim Blott and Tom Thomson, Managing Director and Group Managing Director, respectively of the Herald and Times Group hosted an engaging tutorial on creating a successful media-centred business. The pair who together boast many years of experience in the journalism industry described how a strong core business is essential to the existence and growth of street papers. There was a significant importance placed on the street vendors, something the duo know all about as they employ 52 who distribute the companies various title.
Altogether there were six workshops running simultaneously, each debating a broad spectrum of issues. As the sessions progressed, a common theme became apparent; the street vendors are the lifeblood of every paper. The INSP has assisted over 200,000 poor and homeless street paper vendors since its foundation in 1994 and it is imperative, for the success of each paper, that these relationships continue to grow.