Chris Champion of Glass News presenting guests at The Glazing Summit
The FIT Show in years gone by!
Picture above: Christina Shaw
10 years may not sound like an overly long time but Owner and Publisher, Christina Shaw has been in publishing for around 30 years and her experience and knowledge was brought to Glass News when it was first published in 2011. As the industry knows, Glass News was not her first foray into publishing a glass and fenestration title.
Christina started work at 16 on a farming newspaper and local newspaper for a Yorkshire based publisher in a job secured for her by her sister. Although she had been studying for her ‘A’ levels at school, a blazing row with a teacher who patently didn’t like her, meant she left school, there and then, and started work the very next day! Not like Christina at all to be that hasty or volatile and I’m assured no wine was involved!
She moved into advertising sales for around 6 years, moving on to the Worksop Trader newspaper and then the Sheffield Star before a spell with an advertising agency. An illness that saw Christina’s weight drop to 6 1/2 stone made her reassess her working life and, on the basis that life is too short to ignore your dreams, she decided to work for herself marketing for local companies, one being a conservatory company.
“I saw an opportunity,” said Christina, “to launch a magazine that was published nationally but also had specific regional coverage that gave the choice to customers of areas into which they wished to promote their products. A choice of local or national advertising.” Christina owned and ran that company very successfully for 12 years.
“In launching Glass News,” said Christina, “I wanted to do something different. With so many glossy trade mags out there how could I differentiate myself from them? My background in publishing newspapers gave me the answer and I felt that a newspaper for the industry would be, well – more newsworthy.” It turns out that Christina was right and Glass News soon found a niche within the trade publications, supported from the start by regular advertisers from her former publication who rallied around the new title.
“I can’t thank those regular advertisers enough,” commented Christina. “Their support got Glass News up and running and the support from the trade in general allowed us to grow very rapidly. To be fair, life at that time was very hard. I had nowhere to live (my parents offered but with a four year old son it wasn’t ideal). I was lucky enough to have a cousin who had a house for rent, so I took it, got moved in and started my business plans for Glass News – all from my kitchen table. I did the sales, the editorial, dealt with the PR’s and the accounts for at least the first year, to keep costs to a minimum.” She continued: “I still manage some sales, but I now have a right-hand woman to help me, the very lovely Emma Champion. Justin Lazenby handles the PR’s which also free’s me up to work across all of our titles. It’s a relief to know there are other people to hand to help produce our expanding portfolio. I met Justin 8 years ago and we work together in a purpose-built office from our home in Tickhill. Justin has been invaluable and is now a Director of all three of our companies. Between us we have three children, Sophie, Chloe and Olly, so it’s been a challenge during lockdown!”
With 2 years of Glass News under her belt, Christina looked for help to continue the newspaper’s expansion. “I commandeered Chris Champion to join as Editor of Glass News,” said Christina, ”Chris was ready to retire from Distinction Doors at the grand old age of 65 but, over a lunch to finalise some advertising, I floated the idea of joining Glass News as Editor-in-Chief. Little did he know at that lunch that I had the ulterior motive of asking him to come and work with me!”
Since that time Christina and Chris have travelled the country visiting customers, conducting interviews and factory visits and generally helping companies market themselves and their products. Christina comments: “It’s been a bit of a double act and we have had a lot of fun and, if you know Chris, lots and lots of laughs!”
Christina extended her publishing empire, adding Fenestra Build (established in 2015); Improve Magazine (established in 2020) and A Window Into Aluminium (launched in Feb this year) to the portfolio. The latter two were developed during lockdown while the glass and glazing industry was shut down last year.
The print circulation of Glass News has always been in the order of 10,000 copies. However, during lockdown, the company looked at how circulation could be improved and reach people via a digital audience. Our Editor, Chris Champion, was conducting more and more interviews via Zoom and what better way to get these in front of people, than a digital publication? So, the Glass News model changed during the 2020 lockdowns, but changed for the better as there is now a print edition which is back in circulation, plus the added advantage of a 20,000 email database, covering fabricators, installers, builders and trade counters. Now two versions of each edition of Glass News are produced – the interactive digital version, with the live interviews, and the print edition. A You Tube channel has also been set up that carries a wide variety of videos and interviews.
Lockdown gave Glass News the opportunity to work a lot harder with social media. Justin works on the Twitter account for Glass News and this seems to be the best platform for a business-to-business title. He has increased the followers to almost 7500 and invests time posting interviews and unique material such as the regular Cold Calling feature, Face to Face interviews and Voice of the Industry contributions. If it’s a hot story, you can rest assured Justin will have seen it and got it out onto social media! And all this interspersed with his invoicing and accounts related role.
It’s a small but very much ‘hands on’ team at Glass News. “A special thanks must go to Kate Carnall who has been my graphic designer since the launch of Glass News. Kate also worked with me on the former glass and glazing title and has remained a stalwart throughout! She is tenacious, supportive, professional and my goodness is she quick! At Glass News we believe in proofing our editorial features and adverts, prior to publication, to ensure our customers are happy and the information we publish is correct. We turn things around quickly and efficiently and the result is a happy customer,” commented Christina.
The company also works with a number of digital agencies to help achieve its goals. Graffika Media Design manage the weekly mailer and the website for Glass News, as well as the new title, Improve Magazine.
Despite a heavy workload across all the titles in the publishing portfolio, Christina is also a great supporter of the industry as a whole, particularly if it involves having a glass in hand or is charity based.
“One of the things I love about the industry is the unrelenting pursuit of charity work, in particular, GM Fundraising.” Said Christina. “Gary Morton, the industry stalwart and all round ginger hero, founded the organisation which helps raise funds for Hope House Children’s Hospices, who make sure that no one faces the death of their child alone. They support more than 750 local families who are either caring for a terminally ill child, or whose child has died. I am extremely proud to have been part of the inaugural all ladies Paddle 2 Pedal team, in August 2017, which consisted of 12 ladies who raised in excess of £100,000 between them, for the charity. We could never have achieved this without the fantastic support team – you know who you are! The challenge was to canoe 100 miles and cycle 120 miles, over a 7 day period, with an abseil thrown in! It was a once in a lifetime experience and one which I, and all of the team, will never forget.”
Just another result of the Covid lockdown has been the delay of the second ladies event. “I would like to wish all of them the very best of luck,” says Christina, “and I will be following their journey every stroke/rep/stride/of the way. I shall feel their pain and tears!”
With 10 years under Glass News’ belt, the next 10 years beckon. Who knows what additional titles may find their way into the publishing portfolio in the future?
“In the meantime, we aim to continue to support all our friends and colleagues in the industry and we thank them for supporting the industry’s newspaper, Glass News,” said Owner and Publisher, Christina Shaw.
We did it! The finish line!