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UK regional trends: adapting to changing consumer behaviour

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

UK regional trends: adapting to changing consumer behaviour

With a long tradition, between 1925-2011, Herald Express and Media was a daily newspaper. But summer of 2011, it went weekly. The reasons behind the change was not greed, Andy Phelan former Editor of the Herald Express and Media stresses, nor to improve an already well functioning product, it was to survive.

The background was that the daily readership had declined by a third from 2006 to 2010 and at the same time there was a 50 % revenue decline.

When the discussions began, the newsroom staff and Andy Phelan himself, was not happy about I the coming change. Andy was proud of the product and the team, and the Herald Express and Media was the most successful title in the group. So it was not the staff’s fault, he says, but the financials made it inevitable.

When it was announced to the readers, they were also upset, but by communicating with them and letting their voices be heard, after a breakfast meeting, they realised the necessity in the change, and a group of readers who had complained the most, in the end became advocates for the change.

The declining newsroom trend had made the newsroom staff go down from 43 in 2006 to 31 in 2011 just before the change. The staff of 31 then produced the same product as in 2006. After the change to weekly, the staff was cut in half and 15 now remains.

Overall to sum up the change – it was about growing the audience, retaining the revenue and cutting the costs.

And the results?

For the advertisers, the new offer of the weekly paper was attractive. They could offer the newspaper a bigger audience per edition to the advertisers – about 50 % more. So it was quite an easy sell... And was even better than anticipated.

The first edition sold out in supermarkets in 4 hours. First weekly edition was 48,300 first weekly edition sale.

The circulation was 20 372 copies the first six months of 2011 before the change, and then after 30 524 copies for the ten weeks starting with August.

The price for the daily had been 40 pence, the price for the weekly was 1 pound – so more than doubled.

All these changes, with the cut in staff meaning the biggest impact in the end was that the newspaper was 4 times as profitable for the full year 2011/12 as for 2010/11. Revenues want up 400 %.

Now the trend moves on and several other titles are following, also from other groups. Any has now moved on himself to the Express and echo in Exeter, which also moved to weekly last August.

As they are now a bit on their way Andy can see some benefits also on the journalism as they spend longer times on the stories. But overall, his main take away has been that it is not only the stories that define the newspaper, there is also a strong emotional attachment to the product itself. 

Author

Kristina Bürén

Date

2012-05-31 12:38

Author information


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