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Publisher reveals ambitious plan to expand into new cities

An independent publisher has revealed plans to expand into neighbouring areas after launching a new publishing model it believes will “revolutionise regional media”.

SoPublishing says it is hoping to move into territories including Bristol, Oxford and Cardiff as it marks 15 years of running Cheltenham-based business and lifestyle news title SoGlos.

To coincide with the occasion, SoPublishing has unveiled a new content management system called SoCMS, which it believes will “save individual journalists a whole day each per week”.

The company hopes the development of the technology will enable it to launch new brands across the country.

James and Michelle Fyrne

James and Michelle Fyrne

Managing director James Fyrne told HTFP: “Our focus for the past 12 months has been making the So model – including the brand, SoCMS publishing system and front-end website design – the very best it could possibly be in UK regional media.

“It was built with swift scalability in mind, but with this now successfully powering SoGlos, our attention can turn to expansion to further utilise the feature-rich technology we have invested so extensively in.

“While SoGlos covers the whole county of Gloucestershire, it’s a model that can work successfully across cities too – with Bristol, Oxford and Cardiff logical next steps in the So expansion.

“Bristol will definitely be next, as this is a city we already have strong editorial and commercial connections with. We’re really excited about the coming months and 2023 in particular.”

SoPublishing previously expanded into Bristol in 2016, but solely as an entertainments platform.

Added James: “We soft launched SoBristol a few years back with the aim of this becoming our second brand as part of SoPublishing, but as SoGlos continued to grow in terms of both audience and commercial revenue, that took all of our attention.

“The pandemic then presented a unique opportunity to push forward with pivoting our model – with the introduction of a business- alongside a lifestyle-focus – and we’ve since been completely focused on the new SoCMS.

“We’ve invested so much time and financial resource in this, and it was built with proper expansion in mind, so the first port of call will certainly be Bristol again.

“We’re currently in the process of migrating the old-look SoBristol to the new SoCMS platform. We’ll then need to recruit a SoBristol editor and business development manager, while we’ll also start to be able to enjoy economies of scale for the first time – by drawing upon our central admin and design resource in place here in Gloucestershire.

“Bristol arguably has a more mature and centralised business and lifestyle scene than Gloucestershire, and so we’re confident this could be an even more successful area for us – both in terms of audience and commercial opportunities.”

James and co-founder Michelle Fyrne have developed the CMS, which includes features such as a “seamless writing to subbing to publishing workflow” and “AI-powered content management automation”.

Michelle said: “Bespoke built with our three key stakeholders in mind from the offset – readers, advertisers and our journalists – we’re confident the all-new SoPublishing model is superior to anything else in UK regional media, and we’re excited to now see its potential realised.

“The So brand is perfectly positioned to embrace post-pandemic positivity and our tech-first approach will empower SoGlos – and future titles – to regain reader confidence and market share over national news brands and social media platforms.”