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How supplements, new products and web innovation boosts local press

Innovation is being seen as key to the future of the local media, with newspaper companies branching out to compete.

Sir Rupert Murdoch this week warned that newspaper companies must “Adapt or fail”.

But UK regional press publishers are already broadening their offerings beyond the core daily and weekly newspaper products, to produce supplements, niche publications, lifestyle magazines and websites. They are branching into radio, TV and other products to entice readers and advertisers.

The new focus is on extending the brand to meet new demand for relevant news and information when and where it is convenient to the audience.

Click here to read our story about the ABC sales decline being offset by new media products.

In Newcastle, the total number of products available to readers has trebled in the past ten years from 14 to 45.

The difference is accounted for by six new websites, 12 new regular supplements, two new weekly magazines, three monthly magazines and four quarterly publications.

Steve Brown, regional managing director of the Newcastle Chronicle & Journal and Gazette Media Company, said: “We have become extremely good at identifying new ways to reach specialist markets and are continually innovating and launching new products.

“Our portfolio offers a great variety of opportunities and some really creative ways for advertisers to reach their target audience. Examples include magazines, websites, direct mail, leaflets, events sponsorship and loyalty clubs.”

In the West Midlands, products available have risen from 17 to 24, with an increase in supplements and websites being offset by a reduction in the number of free weeklies.

Supplements there include the Sporting Star, a business supplement E&S Business, The Scene, Weekender, and periodicals Prosper and Living.

Express & Star ad manager Brian Clarke said: “We remain absolutely committed to the ongoing development of our core title, which offers a unique and trusted commercial and editorial identity for our readers and advertisers.

“Alongside this, we continue to grow media opportunities across weekly free titles, internet, magazines and local radio.”

There are 48 media products available from the owners of the Manchester Evening News, including a paid-for evening paper, a free evening, a free morning, a paid-for Sunday, eight paid-for weeklies, 12 free weeklies, seven niche publications, 21 websites and a television channel.

Mark Rix, managing director for MEN Media Sales said: “Publishers are offering a more flexible, cost-efficient and convenient solution for advertisers. Product layering ensures we have a media channel that engages at every level of society, 24 hours a day, at a time and place that is relevant to consumers.

“Regional publishers need to harness the power of the brand as a whole, so that advertisers can clearly see the links across the portfolio.”

In the Portsmouth area, readers can enjoy 14 different products instead of four ten years ago.

Five new regular supplements are being produced by The News, and there are two new weekly magazines, one annual publication and The News’s own website.

Advertising director Peter Timperley said: “Portsmouth’s progress has been supported by a very commercially-aware editor, committed to bringing editorial, advertising and marketing functions closer together. Lifestyle products have evolved from largely female-orientated magazines to far wider-reaching, but more specialised platforms.

“Audiences are not going anywhere, they are just being offered more platforms. In the regional press alone, different focuses and supplements for each day represent individual platforms for advertisers.”

Leeds readers have 36 products to choose from instead of the 17 of ten years ago.

Both the broadsheet Yorkshire Post and the compact Yorkshire Evening Post carve a niche, and offer a total of 19 regular supplements between them. There are six regional news websites and the number of free weeklies has increased from one to three in ten years.

Yorkshire Post Newspapers sales and marketing director Darron McLoughlin said: “Leveraging new audiences from the solid and trusted base of the popular Yorkshire Evening Post and Yorkshire Post, targeted supplements, free publications, niche targeted publications, direct marketing and, of course, electronic solutions are all increasing our overall audience reach within Yorkshire.

“In turn this ensures that we continue to be the number one information provider in our core area providing our advertisers with customers well into the future.”

Eighteen new supplements and seven new websites in Glasgow have broadened the offering from The Herald stable.

Advertising Director Paul Genasi said: “By listening carefully to our customers and reacting to changing market conditions we are able to produce high quality, high value supplements and niche publications, which are well received by the market.”

New websites, niche publications and weekly newspapers have extended the Archant brand across different platforms in East Anglia, home to the Hunts Post and the Advertiser series.

Colin Huggins, former director of advertisement sales at Archant Anglia said: “Over the past two years we have launched a number of niche titles to extend our geographic boundaries and offer added value to our advertisers.

“The rising costs of free distribution have seen us diversify and look at alternative ways of reaching our target audiences. Free pick-ups and targeted distribution have now been successfully integrated within our paid and free publishing centres.”