As with many of you who run your own business l am sure, we work 12 hours a day, six days a week and rarely come up for air. When l recently popped my head up, someone said it’s the Platinum 100th issue next month. l was in disbelief. 

I nearly fell over when someone else mentioned that we now had 720,000 readers across all the Platinum titles and digital platforms and are the largest circulation business magazines in the UK! How on earth did that happen?

By Maarten Hoffmann, Managing Director, Platinum Media Group 

Platinum was launched over 15 years ago when l returned to the UK from the tropics, and moved to Brighton and needed to network. I spent a couple of weeks going to every networking event l could find and was shocked that there were no high-level events in Brighton, and no event that fully hosted the guests.

If you can’t find what you want, as they say, go start one. The Platinum Club idea came about after a few too many bottles of fine Chablis Grand Cru at the Grand Hotel with my dear old friend, Managing Director Andrew Mosley. Andrew hadn’t been in town very long either, so we considered ourselves the ‘new kids on the block’. OK, l know we are not exactly ‘kids’, but we can let that go; we just wanted to shake things up.

A few months later, the Platinum Club was born. No seated meals, no speeches, no sponsors, no standing in the corner hoping someone will speak to you. In essence, guests were coming to my house to meet my friends. 

Alright, my ‘house’ has 202 bedrooms, and my friends are all CEOs, MDs, Directors and Managing Partners - and it was by invitation only, but it grabbed the attention of most of the leading companies across Sussex and the Club was up and running.

Now in its 15th year, it is still the only networking club in the region that offers fully hosted events. As Keith Jackman, Marketing Director of Mercedes-Benz said: “If you don’t know everyone when you arrive, you sure will by the time you leave. The Platinum team work hard to ensure you are introduced to everyone and make relevant introductions throughout the evening - whilst serving fine champagnes and wonderful hand-made canapés. I never miss one” 

A few years later whilst at the bar with five CEOs from across Sussex, we started moaning as to why there were no decent business magazines for the South East, considering that it is the economic powerhouse of the UK. Everyone looked blank and then one looked at me and said, “Well, why don’t you do something about it?” I didn’t sleep that night; instead I was thinking, ’why don’t l do something about it?’

After three months of studying the publishing landscape, my partner at the time, Ian Trevett and l put together the proposal for a brand new professional magazine with an international look but with regional content. There were to be few ads, no fluff and packed with regional content and advice from some of the most senior business leaders in the region, who write for no other publication and are experts in their field.

We then set up meetings with each of those five CEOs in the bar - all in one day, back to back - plonked the proposal down on the table and said, “There you go, l did do something about it. And we would like you to pay for it…”

Ian hid under the table whilst l swallowed back the trepidation, tried to keep a straight face and waited whilst they read it. By the end of that very tense day, all five agreed - and are still clients of the magazines today. My heartfelt thanks go out to NatWest Bank, Mercedes-Benz, Kreston Reeves, DMH Stallard and Gatwick Airport.

After several years of rapidly climbing readership, we were asked to launch a new magazine in Surrey, so withdrew Platinum from the county and, in association with the wonderful Louise Punter from Surrey Chambers of Commerce, we launched the Surrey Business Magazine.

A few years later, l realised how badly served female business owners were as, although Platinum is for all, research showed us that our readers were 70% male. That might have been due to the ratio of male-to-female business owners at that time but still it felt wrong. A year later, we launched ‘Dynamic Magazine - The Magazine for Women in Business’. Thank goodness, it was a great success and has a readership of 70% female and 30% male. A direct demographic flip.

Working to the theory that if you stand still you just go backwards, and having being constantly asked to be the media partner for all manner of events, l decided to return to my roots and start an events division. I was at the BBC for 20 years, producing and directing Light Entertainment programmes, so the background was there. 

I had lunch with my old mate Caraline Brown, founder of Midnight Comm-unications. When she said she was ready to divest herself of Midnight to finally write her book, l agreed to purchase the Sussex Business Awards and the Brighton & Hove Business Awards from her - on the condition that I also got the services of the incomparable Fiona Graves, the Director of the events for many years, to ensure continuity. 

That was the start of our events company, and we now own and produce the Sussex, Surrey, Brighton & Hove, Lewes, Runnymede and Dynamic Business Awards. Our latest acquisition, the huge footprint of the Central South Business Awards, covering Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey and West Sussex has its inaugural event taking place on September 28th at the Hilton Ageas Bowl in Southampton, in association with Business South.

So, what next? Well, it would seem churlish to dominate Surrey and Sussex, with Hampshire just over the border, so in Q4 of 2022, we will launch the Hampshire Business Magazine. We also have a series of new events planned, and some exciting ideas to shake things up again.

Firstly, I thank all the loyal partners and clients of the company, the readers who have stuck with Platinum through thick and thin, and finally, the Platinum team - past and present – without whom none of this would have been possible.

Thank you – Ian Trevett, Lesley Alcock, Fiona Graves, Alan Wares, Michelle Shakesby, Kate Morton, Tess de Klerk, Lydia Bunyard, Lawrence Elphick, Helen Preece, India Hoffmann, Millie Hoffmann, Poppy Sharman, Julie Clarke, Amanda Harrington, Emma Pearce, Johnnie Gibson, Hannah Joslyn, Nicole Kemble, Faye Greenwood, David Bagnall and Roxy Costello-Ross.

Here’s to the next 100…

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