Beano reveal Britain’s Funniest Class

Britain’s Funniest Class have wowed the nation by appearing overnight on a giant billboard in Hitchin today, celebrating their crowning as the nation’s funniest school class.

The giant billboard, which was unveiled by the Beano team, appears to have been pasted up by Voyager year 5 class themselves. The incredible artwork features the winning class in comic form with their winning joke, which also appears in the iconic comic out today.

This year is the first time that the winning class and joke have been immortalised out in public. The Beano billboard aims to give the country a much-needed smile ahead of schools breaking up for the summer holidays.

The competition was fierce this year with hilarious jokes coming in from across the nation and receiving over 190,000 votes by the public, but it was Whitehill Junior School that snatched the top spot. “What do you call a class of children who eat potatoes using their toes?!  The Mash Street Kids!” joke won with 43.4 percent of the votes on Beano.com.

In true Dennis and Beano style, the winning jokes also appeared around Hitchin centre immortalising themselves in comic history. Locals in Hitchin were captured giggling away at the side-splitting works of art.

Members of the winning class were snapped with rollers and paste in Hitchin. The witty pranksters’ billboard stands at 11 ft tall.

Mike Stirling, Director of Mischief at Beano Studios said, “Now in its fourth year, ‘Britain’s Funniest Class’ gets kids reading, creating and laughing in classrooms all over the UK. At Beano, we’ve always said our greatest gags come from kids, and Whitehill Primary has proved this again. It’s a pun-believable joke The Bash Street Kids themselves would be proud of.”

The Beano artworks give members of Hitchin and the rest of the nation the chance to chuckle the day away at the nation’s funniest school kids.

Mr Steve Mills, Headteacher at Whitehill Junior School said, “The children had amazing fun creating their joke and for them to be immortalised on a billboard and the Beano comic is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We are delighted to be able to share their funniest joke with the rest of the nation and hopefully generate many chuckles this morning!”

A total of ten witty schools were shortlisted by Beano’s gag masters and Head Judge comedian Suzi Ruffell, before the public were given the deciding vote to crown the winner.

In second was ESMS Junior School in Edinburgh with 31.9 percent of the votes with their bonetastic joke – “Doctor: I’m afraid that we need to remove your whole spine. Patient: But why? Doctor: Because it’s really holding you back.”

Beano recognised for diversity and inclusion at PPA Awards

After a conscious effort to ensure every kid sees themselves in the comic, Beano has been awarded this year’s Diversity & Inclusion prize at the Professional Publishers Association Awards.

Judges were impressed that the magazine had drawn on research and expert advice to deliver changes which they said were ‘appropriate, immediate and lasting, ultimately altering the experience for readers’.

Judges also commented that the magazine’s ‘genuine commitment to make significant change at a fast pace is something to be admired’.

Changes to the magazine were driven by the recognition that while Beano was more diverse and inclusive, constant evolution was needed to always reflect modern Britain.

Beano used data from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education as its guide, and worked with the charity Inclusive Minds who connect publishers with ambassadors from minority communities who share relevant lived experience.

In 2021, with CLPE and Inclusive Minds’ help, Beano added two new pupils to Mr Teacher’s rowdy Bash Street School register, with a further three in spring 2022. Mahira, Mandi, Harsha, Khadija and Stevie are all minority-ethnic Beano title characters who star in their own strips, but they are also the first permanent additions to Class 2B in over fifty years.

Also, to continue to create authentic stories, Beano is seeking out new talent, working on a mentoring/internship with CLPE and City University in London, whose Journalism course is noted for its strong intake from under-represented communities.

Rebecca Miskin, CEO of DC Thomson’s media portfolio said: “The team at Beano has done essential work, not only in recognising that the comic needed to change to better reflect Britain today, but by doing it in the right way. By building a story-world that reflects its readers’ realities, it encourages everyone to tell diverse and inclusive stories.

“Diversity of thought, background and culture is not just encouraged, but expected. This is a journey that is fundamental to our vision for the future across DC Thomson.”

Global recognition for DC Thomson news brands

DC Thomson has been recognised in a major international award this week, for the work the company does in taking creative approaches, based on insight, to develop its news brands.

The International News Media Association (INMA) Global Media Awards took place in New York yesterday with The Press and Journal winning first place in the ‘Best Brand Awareness Campaign’ category for its ongoing project ‘Every Story Starts With You’.

It won against shortlisted campaigns from Bladet Nordlys (Norway), Göteborgs-Posten (Sweden), Kleine Zeitung (Austria), Maharashtra Times (India) and Nine (Australia).

The Courier picked up second place in ‘Best Idea to Encourage Reader Engagement’ for its Personalised Subscriber Email Updates.

Led by Carly Gilchrist and Graham McDougall, the P&J’s brand awareness campaign put real Aberdeen people, businesses and its journalists front and centre to mark its move to a digital-first news provider.

The campaign revealed a new proposition for the news brand, “Every Story Starts With You”, which underlines the title’s dedication to telling the stories of Aberdeen’s people and serving them with quality local news.

Campaign channels included out of home (bus stops and bus panels), paid social media (including video content), onsite messaging, radio, print ads and PR.

In making the award, judges said the P&J’s campaign, was an “Excellent example of an audience-first campaign, a simple message that yielded fantastic results and an impressive increase in brand recognition”.

The Courier’s email project was developed by Alison Wallace and Katrina Edginton, and aimed to use readers’ habits to shape personalised emails and drive engagement.

The daily subscriber email is completely personalised to individuals and signposts ten news articles which are tuned to the user’s reading habits.

The approach proved successful, with those receiving the personalised email showing a significantly higher engagement level than those who hadn’t. The personalised emails have now been fully integrated into subscriber emails and are used as a benefit for those signing up.

Tom Miller, DC Thomson’s chief transformation officer has been working with the news brands over the last year to grow their audiences. He said: “I’m delighted with these nods from INMA as I believe they speak to our commitment to serving our local communities, both through putting readers and their needs at the heart of all we do on top of our continued investment in data, insight and marketing capabilities. We get better every day at serving the stories people want, when and where they want them.”

Read more about the campaigns below:

The Press and Journal’s Brand Awareness Campaign

The Courier’s Personalised Email Project

The Courier launches pioneering daily audio news briefing

DC Thomson news brand The Courier has launched what it believes to be a first for a UK regional news brand: a daily audio news briefing. Continue reading “The Courier launches pioneering daily audio news briefing”

The Courier releases first ever investigative documentary

The Courier’s investigations team this week releases documentary ‘A Short Walk Home: The Disappearance of Allan Bryant Jnr’, a deep-dive examination of how a Fife man came to vanish without trace over eight years ago. Continue reading “The Courier releases first ever investigative documentary”

DC Thomson launches innovative new recruitment programme

A new approach for DC Thomson recruitment has launched, the first step in evolving the way people are brought into the company.

Responding to the ever-changing job market and the company’s ongoing transformation strategy, DC Thomson Pathways takes a creative approach to recruitment. The programme is giving the company access to people (particularly in software engineering and insight roles) to help grow skills and improve diversity and inclusion.

DC Thomson Pathways is running as a pilot programme for positions within the Product & Technology (P&T) and Insights, Data & Audience (IDA) teams, looking beyond the traditional recruitment market process.

For the pilot, the company is working with digital skills academy CodeClan and career break specialists Women Returners to bring talent into the business, potentially recruiting 20 colleagues in the first year of the programme.

Roles include software engineers, data analysts, UX/UI designers, project analysts and product owners.

Once with the company, new employees will be supported with a coaching programme created especially for their cohort, buddy system and a learning-led culture.

DC Thomson director David Thomson said: “The strength of DC Thomson is our people. Over the company’s 117-year history, our strategy has always been about seeking out the best people and helping them grow.

“We have ambitious growth plans and a huge part in achieving them is having the right people with us. The Pathways programme is a crucial part of that journey.”

Those interested in joining the DC Thomson Pathways programme can find out more by contacting CodeClan or Women Returners.

Sunday Post journalist praised at Scottish Parliament on World Press Freedom Day

The work of The Sunday Post’s chief reporter Marion Scott was hailed at the Scottish Parliament yesterday as politicians marked World Press Freedom Day.

Russell Findlay MSP, who opened a special debate at Holyrood, spoke of the continuing importance of journalism but said its ability to hold power to account was in jeopardy as those in authority increasingly attempt to deflect scrutiny.

He continued: “Thank goodness then for people like Marion Scott, chief reporter of the Sunday Post newspaper. She embodies the best of journalism, compassionate, fearless and giving a voice to the marginalised.”

Marion, a former Scottish Journalist of the Year, has won many awards for her campaigning and investigative reporting during a career that has exposed a series of scandals and miscarriages of justice.

Praising her extraordinary track record, Findlay, a former journalist, said Marion’s work “has changed countless lives and challenges the powerful. The hard truths she uncovers can be awkward and uncomfortable, just as they should be.

“Marion does not seek praise and will likely give me an absolute doing for embarrassing her and anyone who has ever met her will know I am not joking.”

The MSP’s praise for her work was echoed by Jim Wilson, editor at The Sunday Post, said: “Marion has been one of Scotland’s most skilled and committed reporters for many years but her kind of talent and tenacity is needed now more than ever.

“She is everything that a journalist should be and it was fitting for that to be recognised in the Scottish Parliament on World Press Freedom Day.”

The tribute in the Scottish Parliament came only days after Marion had visited Holyrood, accompanying the family of Louise Aitchison after revealing how police failures had preceded her murder by a man with a history of violence against women. Her family spoke to MSPs of all parties as The Post continues to campaign for an urgent Fatal Accident Inquiry.

Trio of award wins for DC Thomson podcasts as million milestone reached

Podcasts produced by DC Thomson have taken three prizes in this year’s Publisher Podcast Awards with Energy Voice Out LoudAuthor in Your Classroom and the Bunkered Golf Podcast all winning their categories. The awards come as the company marks the milestone of reaching a million downloads since it started podcasting in 2019.

Winning Best B2B Podcast, Energy Voice Out Loud leads the conversation in the energy sector and introduces a significant new revenue stream through a mix of standard sponsorship advertising and, more significantly, through producing native content for clients such as NatWest and Ernst & Young.

Author in Your Classroom won the Best Books & Literature Podcast and introduces young people, their teachers, parents and carers to Aceville’s Plazoom platform with some of the world’s best children’s writers such as Cressida Cowell, Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Morpurgo. Each episode is supported with a free resource pack on Plazoom, giving a taster of the subscription product.

The Bunkered Golf Podcast takes ‘Best Sport Podcast’ for a second year in a row, and was praised by judges for the show’s “irreverence and repartee between the hosts” which they said “kept the subject matter fresh and interesting, even to listeners with little knowledge”.

DC Thomson came first equal in this year’s awards with the number of wins it achieved.

The company produces podcasts on themes as diverse as wind energy, potatoes and football. This month it passed the milestone of having its podcasts downloaded more than a million times since it first began podcasting in 2019. In 2021 alone, the company’s podcasts were downloaded 518,000 times, almost double the number of downloads in 2020 (299,000).

According to Christopher Phin, DC Thomson’s head of podcasts, the company is in the top few percent of podcasters worldwide. “Our journalists are learning new skills and finding ways to get closer to their audiences,” he says.

For Christopher, one of the most significant learnings is that while audience growth can be slow, once they’ve started listening, engagement levels (primarily how much of a podcast is listened to) are high. Cross marketing of podcasts across DC Thomson brands has also been shown to increase growth of listeners.

“We’re building momentum and ensuring that commercial thinking is baked into the very beginning of new show development. It’s been a phenomenal year of growth and experimentation,” he says, “and it feels like we’re still just getting started.”

DC Thomson Podcast portfolio:  

Gardening podcast The Dirt from Grow Your Own magazine is one of the most listened to programmes, designed to keep listeners company when they’re pottering on their allotment or veg patch while Health & Wellbeing magazine’s Walk To Wellbeing invites listeners to join celebrities on their favourite walks.

Football is covered in three podcasts with over a hundred episodes each. Twa Teams, One Street is where the Evening Telegraph sports team share their obsessions about the two Dundee teams, The Courier sports writers can be found on the Talking Football podcast, and The Press and Journal and Evening Express sports desks are behind Northern Goal.

The Bunkered Golf Podcast discusses the latest big talking points from across the game with ‘plenty of opinions and absolutely zero fluff’.

Out Loud from Energy Voice offers up news, analysis, and expert insight from across the oil, gas and renewable energy sectors, and The Global Franchise covers off news from the team at the magazine of the same name. Political commentators from The Courier, The Press and Journal, the Evening Telegraph and the Evening Express come together for political insights and analysis with a Scottish focus on The Stooshie.

The People’s Friend team delve into their 153-year archives in Reading Between the Lines, the My Weekly Magical Flying Bookshop is a feelgood fiction podcast, and Author in Your Classroom features advice and inspiration from some of the world’s best children’s writers.

An additional podcast, Pass it On from the Sunday Post, shares household tips from the 1950s. Although the programme is on an extended break and didn’t release new episodes in 2021 this evergreen content is still being listened to.

Pilot episodes for a number of other DC Thomson brands have been recorded, and are expected to go live in the coming months.

Beano, VisitScotland and ScotRail launch joint family campaign

Beano has teamed up with VisitScotland and ScotRail for the first time to promote family holidays and day trips across the country.

Dennis & Gnasher and Minnie the Minx are the faces of a new ‘blamazing’ tourism marketing campaign aimed to reignite families’ love of rail adventures in Scotland.

The two-year campaign aims to use the cross-generational appeal of one of the UK’s best-loved comics and ScotRail’s Kids for a Quid deal, to promote sustainable travel as part of Scottish tourism’s recovery.

VisitScotland has created a special landing page – www.visitscotland.com/beano – with Dennis, Gnasher and Minnie highlighting key places to visit in each of Scotland’s seven cities (Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth, Stirling), including dog-friendly days out.

The campaign forms part of VisitScotland’s drive for sustainable tourism in line with the national tourism strategy, Scotland Outlook 2030, and will use a variety of digital and print marketing to highlight attractions across Scotland.

The UK family market accounts for a third of all overnight and day trips in Scotland. Prior to the pandemic, overnight stays by families saw year-on-year growth since 2016, with an average 13% increase in trips on the previous year. UK families took 2.2 million overnight family holidays in Scotland in 2019 – an increase of 15% on 2018 and the highest in ten years.  ​​​​​​​

ScotRail Kids for a Quid tickets means up to four children (aged 5-15) can travel for just £1 return on off-peak and weekend journeys with every paying adult. Additionally, it also gives one free child entry to some of Scotland’s most popular attractions when purchasing a full price adult ticket at the attraction.

Mike Stirling, Beano’s Director of Mischief, commented: For me, Beano has always represented the heart of Scotland’s storytelling. As a kid, it was visiting new places by rail that sparked my own sense of imagination. I’d be engrossed in my comic as we left the station before glimpses of new places distracted me. On one trip, crossing the Tay Rail Bridge, a fellow passenger proudly informed me my Beano was created in my destination, Dundee. I was blown away something so cool was so close!

“The same goes for all of Scotland’s seven cities. Every visit, you come away with a new story to share. Our characters are ordinary kids exploring extraordinary imaginations and I hope Minnie, Dennis and Gnasher encourage many families, pets included, to get on board and create their own memorable stories during this special year.”

Vicki Miller, Director of Marketing and Digital at VisitScotland, said: “The UK family market makes up around a third of Scottish tourism trips and therefore it’s important we create fun and engaging content for parents and children as part of our tourism recovery plans.

“By working with ScotRail and Beano we aim to raise awareness of what makes Scotland a fantastic family destination and the benefits of exploring our ‘blamazing’ sights by rail. It is particularly appropriate that we should team up with one of the UK’s best-loved children’s comics during Scotland’s Year of Stories.

“The campaign will provide a creative way to further support the recovery of the tourism industry while promoting sustainable travel experiences to the benefit of visitors, communities and our environment.”

Lesley Kane, ScotRail Commercial Director, said“This is a fantastic partnership with the Beano and we are delighted to be able to play our part in helping families enjoy Scotland by train.

“Children love the train, and our Kids for a Quid offer provides real value for money. With more than 2,000 trains running every day across the country, there is no better way to give the kids an exciting day out and create new memories for your family.

“We are looking forward to welcoming more and more people back to our services to experience all that Scotland has to offer, by rail.”

Partnership between The Sunday Post and Bloomsbury highlights male violence against women and girls

Scotland’s MSPs and most senior law officers have been sent a life-saving book illuminating male violence against women and girls in a landmark partnership between The Sunday Post and publishers Bloomsbury.

The book, In Control: Dangerous Relationships and How They End in Murder by leading criminologist Professor Jane Monckton Smith details eight escalating stages of coercive behaviour. Professor Monckton Smith has previously contributed to Shaming, The Post’s acclaimed campaign calling for a seachange in how violence against women and girls is investigated and prosecuted and now, in an innovative partnership between The Post and Bloomsbury, her book has been sent to all 129 MSPs and Scotland’s most senior law officers, the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General.

Each year for the last five years, at least 13 women have been killed in Scotland with around half of those recognised as victims of previous abuse but Professor Monckton Smith, one of the UK’s leading experts in domestic violence, says up to 80 other deaths, including some where women have taken their own lives, may be linked to domestic abuse and many could be prevented.

She told The Post: “These men do not suddenly snap. There is a clear pattern. The men can be stopped. Women can be saved.”

After receiving her copy, Pam Duncan-Glancy MSP told the newspaper of her shock at the research revealing how failures to recognise repeating patterns in the behaviour of violent men are allowing them to escape justice and failing victims. She is now among MSPs calling for fundamental change.

Chief reporter, Marion Scott, who has led The Post’s acclaimed campaign, said: “This is an important book exposing how male violence is still misunderstood by far too many police officers and prosecutors. We were delighted to work with Bloomsbury to ensure our MSPs and senior law officers received a copy to raise awareness of these identifiable patterns of behaviour and help ensure women and girls are better protected.”