Founder re­flects on his­tory

Central and North Rural Weekly - - RURAL WEEKLY - DA­MON PHILLIPS Found­ing ad­ver­tis­ing man­ager

I STARTED with Toowoomba News­pa­pers in 1995, fol­low­ing six years with Ru­ral Press work­ing for Queens­land Coun­try Life and then in­dus­try pub­li­ca­tions The Grain­grower, Queens­land Farmer & Gra­zier and The Cat­tle­man which had been pur­chased from West­ern Pub­lish­ers, a di­vi­sion of Toowoomba News­pa­pers, only a few years ear­lier.

I was asked to join The Chron­i­cle to not only head the fea­tures de­part­ment, but also help launch a new weekly ru­ral pub­li­ca­tion. Mark Jamieson, now mayor of the Sun­shine Coast, was the ad­ver­tis­ing man­ager at the time and had, for a num­ber of years, wanted to pro­duce a ru­ral pub­li­ca­tion.

Queens­land Coun­try Life was the lead­ing ru­ral news­pa­per and although we didn’t have their ed­i­to­rial re­sources, we were able to pro­vide a large dis­tri­bu­tion net­work us­ing the APN owned and aligned mast­heads through­out the state.

A num­ber of fo­cus groups were held with agri­cul­tural busi­nesses to de­ter­mine what was im­por­tant to them in a ru­ral pub­li­ca­tion. Cir­cu­la­tion and ad­ver­tis­ing rates were para­mount but also so were sta­ples such as mar­kets, weather, on-farm ed­i­to­ri­als and clas­si­fieds. This was well be­fore web­sites and on­line sales. Ru­ral Weekly was formed with sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives Heat­ley Gil­more and Ben Hodge, ex­pe­ri­enced ru­ral jour­nal­ist Miles Noller, who had been the ed­i­tor of The Chron­i­cle’s Farm Fo­rum for many years, and Kirby An­der­son, who went on to work within the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture.

The orig­i­nal cir­cu­la­tion was just un­der 60,000 copies per week, pre-printed and in­serted into 12 mast­heads. Most edi­tions were be­tween 32 and 48 pages, which was a huge un­der­tak­ing for such a small team.

We had great sup­port from the lo­cal ma­chin­ery deal­ers, seed com­pa­nies and ru­ral mer­chan­dise busi­nesses. Ru­ral Weekly was also the ma­jor me­dia part­ner for Ag Show.

I am proud of my small in­volve­ment with the launch of a news­pa­per that changed the way news was dis­trib­uted to ru­ral and re­gional Queens­land, as should ev­ery­one else who has been a part of Ru­ral Weekly for the past 24 years.

Da­mon Phillips is now the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer at the Royal Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety of Queens­land.

Found­ing ad­ver­tis­ing man­ager Da­mon Phillips dis­cusses how the Ru­ral Weekly came about 24 years ago.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.