Which headline would inspire you most?

by Nicky Godding, Editor of Business & Innovation Magazine
Rainbow

Thousands set up new businesses during lockdown” was a story we ran last Monday, or : “557,000 UK businesses now in significant distress as numbers soar”?

Both are true, but we didn’t publish the second story, which was from insolvency company Begbies Traynor.

You might ask why – as we are regional business news publishers. Yes, but we are one of many news organisations, and if you’re looking for bad news, it’s easy enough to find elsewhere.

But… if you’re looking for inspiring news, knowledge that will enrich your life, information to benefit your business, or something that makes you think about things in a different way, then that’s what we look for and report on.

Hunting for good, positive news, takes time. Bad news more often hits you in the face. Looking for rainbows and breaks in the clouds can take longer. It took our editorial team some hours to plough through the London Stock Exchange’s “1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain” published this week, to identify the 90 or so that are located in the region we cover. Many of them we were aware of, others we weren’t, but all of them are a cut above and it’s great to know who they are.

Is accentuating the positive wrong? There are different ways to report on the same story. Most national news media errs on the side of misery, often selectively reporting on the negative side of a story.

And yes, I know there’s a cynical reason for that. As human beings we are drawn to bad news. We all say we want more good news, but apparently most of us don’t. Not really.

Well other people may not but I do – perhaps because I’m a glass-half-full sort of person. Not much I can do about that – I was born that way. I want sunshine in my life, and I’m happy to go and look for it.

But the reality is that horrible headlines secure copious clicks. And for many online publishers looking for strong SEO (search engine optimisation), bad news is good. It makes better click bate.

But it doesn’t make me feel better, and probably not you either. Or perhaps it does in a way, on the basis that if we read about a business tanking, it might make us feel better because ours isn’t, or isn’t doing as badly.

While I am only too well aware that in the wider community Covid-19 is unkindest to those who have the least, and the dreadful situation that businesses in many, many parts of our economy, find themselves in: the Aerospace companies having to divest themselves of skilled engineers because orders have evaporated, the precarious situation of the events sector which has had the (red) carpet well and truly pulled out from under its feet (although it’s not all bad, one Bristol events company reported a 30 per cent rise in revenues last week), the thousands of independent cafes, pubs and restaurants forced to do the hokey kokey of opening then not, depending on the government scientists’ latest lockdown wisdom, the thousands of freelancers whose income has simply fizzled away, there are other parts of the economy which are thriving, or quietly adapting.

The wine delivery sector is doing well. Home delivery companies are thriving, those businesses which have invested in a strong internet presence. Superdry, on who’s results we reported on this week, may be experiencing major challenges in its physical stores, but e-commerce sales are up significantly.

Those companies which successfully diversified some time ago, because they’d learned lessons from previous recessions perhaps. Renishaw, one of the region’s most successful engineering companies, has seen revenues fall in some areas of its business, but the company’s healthcare business is growing.

Computer gaming is flying, and that’s a huge revenue-driver for the UK. Not surprising thanks to the enforced restrictions on our movements since March leaving many to look to their screens for entertainment. This summer, the Warwickshire-based award-winning video game developer Codemasters reported a significant rise in revenues and gross profits.

Other businesses are paying back furlough cash. Games Workshop, the Nottingham-based manufacturer of miniature wargames, committed early to returning its furlough cash, and others have followed.

Trade kitchen supplier Howden Joinery intends to repay £22 million furlough money it received in the first half of its financial year after sales improved significantly (if you’re at home, and you’ve got the money, it’s a perfect time to design your forever kitchen).

There is always good news somewhere – if you look for it. And at Business & Innovation Magazine we go out of our way to do just that. There are thousands of stories across our website, of companies innovating, taking the plunge, creating new products and services. And we put up more every day.

In his first speech this week as President of the CBI, Lord Karan Bilimoria, CBE, DL, said the despite everything, he remains really optimistic about the future.

He said: “At the height of this crisis, business stepped up. Firms and key workers in every sector, every part of the UK worked – day and night – to keep the country going.

“We used to marvel at China building hospitals from scratch in days. We now know that in the middle of a public health crisis we too can build a hospital – with 4,000 critical care beds – in just nine days. And we’ve experienced an innovation earthquake.”

So send us your news, whatever it is. Make sure you put a golden nugget in it and we’ll help you shine.