Reach Nationals Chief Operating Officer Neil Jagger gives thought

5th April 2020
What does it take to lead an organisation through this difficult time ? The team at Ace caught up with Neil Jagger Chief Operating Officer, Reach Nationals who highlighted the essential actions he is employing and how he applauds the passionate team at Reach for their commitment and dedication in the face of these immense challenges for a newspaper publisher

What impact has the Government lock down to alleviate pressure on NHS from coronavirus had on retail Newspaper sales ? 

Newspaper sales have clearly been impacted by people’s inability to leave their homes however the determination of everyone in the supply chain to keep all elements running successfully is amazing

How are readers reacting? 

There has been huge demand for home delivery using the “delivermynewspaper” portal and readers continue to visit the 90% of retailers that have remained open to sell our newspapers

What delights you most about your colleagues ability to handle the increased demands of managing market disruption together with home working yet ensure loyal readers get their copies at this time?

All 110 of our newspapers,all 50 of our websites and our 2 magazines have published as normal without missing a heartbeat. I love the stoicism and determination demonstrated by all of our teams in the United Kingdom and Ireland who will not let anything prevent them getting their product out

These are uncharted waters bringing increased pressure on all involved. What are the three key things that drive you forward in facing the challenge?

  1. Keeping all of our team members safe both physically and mentally
  2. Ensuring our business is in the best possible shape when we come out of this awful period in our lives
  3. Continuing to bring the news to all of our readers every day in whatever format they choose to consume it

How is Reach as an organisation meeting the challenge in maintaining communication of rapidly evolving corporate goals, keeping colleagues engaged and equipping them to help solve the company’s most urgent challenges.
Daily Google Hangouts (video conferences) with every team member,regular business updates from the CEO with clear actions , helpful and timely advice from the HR teams on the best way for all of us to cope with the isolation that Covid-19 has brought

What are the best things an organisation can do just now to support the well being of their employees?

Daily interactions via Hangout and conference calls to alleviate the sense of isolation. Clear and meaningful actions to ensure the team continue to feel valuable to the organisation. Not putting anyone into a position of risk

How far would you agree or disagree in the statement “true leadership development takes place under conditions of real stress”. If you do agree, how visible is this quality within your teams at Reach just now?

I am not sure I fully agree however Covid-19 has forced the leadership team to undertake hitherto unprecedented actions that strategically will ensure our business successfully comes through these uncharted waters. There have been so many heroes who have gone above and beyond to support the business

Communication is important within every organisation, thinking about Reach what communication advantages might you have had over the competition?

The size of our portfolio (48m users of our products each month in the UK) means we talk to a huge part of the population each day with updates on the current situation,advice for physical and mental well-being as well as trying to add a little humour and fun in pretty dark times


If you had to identify the further market challenges awaiting newspaper publishers over the next few months what would they be?

Taking the tough,difficult actions and decisions now rather than assuming things will stay the same in the immediate to mid term -they won’t and will probably worsen. Try to get ahead and get your business into a position where it can survive 2020 and prosper in 2021 and beyond

Ace would like to sincerely thank Neil for his time in helping us with a brilliant interview full of valuable insights.

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