A “back to basics” approach to news gathering and a print revamp has seen a south coast daily boost its average daily sales figures by 2.1pc.
The Dorset Echo is one of just two daily newspapers to post a year-on-year sales increase for the period July to December 2009, according to figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations today.
The Echo’s average daily sales, which are 100pc paid-for and for Monday to Saturday, sit at 18,396, up from 18,026 a year ago.
Peterborough’s Evening Telegraph also saw a sales rise of 0.6pc to 16,531.
Echo editor Toby Granville, who took over the role in January last year, told HTFP that he had slowly revamped the paper, got journalists back out on patch, run plenty of reader offers and engaged new audiences in a bid to boost sales.
“We’ve made it a people paper with more human interest stories and revamped pages to give them a bit more impact,” he said.
“There are larger pictures on the front page and we’ve launched a few new pages and supplements.
“We have an extremely dedicated team of 25 staff in editorial – we’ve gone back to basics with reporters out on patch doing all the old stuff that has fallen by the wayside at some papers.
“We also have pictures of people on every page – its success is making it a paper about people.”
Toby says that the newspaper sales department now works so closely with journalists that it’s become an extension of the editorial department, making sure all sales devices are in place and newspapers are where they should be, especially when promoting big stories.
The paper has also chased particular demographics, including launching three different supplements aimed at children and young people which in turn has seen more families buying the paper.
Since June last year, sales of the Dorset Echo have increased every month.
“Our journalists are being journalists again and proving there’s life in the old dog yet,” Toby added.
Evening Telegraph editor Mark Edwards told HTFP: “We’re really pleased and delighted to have this increase.
“We’ve done a number of things such as the move to overnight publishing, which has had a positive impact. Hand in hand with that, we’ve been working incredibly hard with our newspaper sales team on point-of-sale and delivery, making sure papers are where they’re supposed to be.
“We’ve looked at our audience and targeted areas of the paper to it while the news teams have done a great job in producing the content our audience wants to read.
“The most popular part has been our nostalgia page along with our new leisure section and we have a ‘Five reasons to buy’ on the front page.”
Mark added that the Telegraph’s website, which has seen a 14.6pc increase in unique users, was receiving thousands of comments, enabling the news agenda to be targeted to what people were talking about.
“We’re not complacent though and we’re not going to stop working hard,” he added.
Bluestringer (25/02/2010 13:42:07)
I read that as “Editor’s toast sales rise” and wondered what new trick I was missing out on this time.
Good news anyway.
steve hutchings (25/02/2010 15:31:58)
I have no wish to be churlish but not so very long ago the DEE had regular weekly sales of well over 20,000 and, while I would be the first to welcome a reversal of a downward trend, I think it is important to acknowledge the facts. I seem to recall that under Mike Woods the DEE had a circulation of 23,000. By all means correct me if I am wrong.
Steve Hutchings (25/02/2010 15:34:08)
I should have, of course, referred to daily sales, not weekly.
Ivy Likes (25/02/2010 15:57:55)
You’re right, you are being churlish.
From being one of the very smallest dailies in the country, the Dorset Echo is now bigger than dailies like the Exeter Express, Peterborough Telegraph, the Northants Chronicle, the Gloucestershire Echo and others in Halifax, Worcester, Scarborough, Burton, Scunthorpe and many more.
It’s done brilliantly. Well done…
Paul (25/02/2010 16:45:16)
What a shock. Doing the job properly improves sales.
Steve Hutchings (26/02/2010 08:59:32)
Further to previous comments I should point out that I am editor of a weekly newspaper whose circulation over the past 10 years has remained within the same parameters. This is not the case with the Dorset Evening Echo which has fallen from something like 25,000 to its current figure – a decline of 25%. I deal in facts. I do not deal in short term interpretations which do not necessarily reflect the hard truth of the complete picture. I make no apologies for the fact that this is undoubtedly what some people do not wish to hear.
Mike Woods (26/02/2010 11:15:02)
Since I’m mentioned by Steve Hutchings I may as well emerge from my muddy smallholding on the outskirts of Weymouth to confirm that, yes, we did sell more than 23,000 copies at one point when I edited the Echo. But newspaper sales were healthier all round in those days. The current Echo is a trifle brash for my taste but it’s still jam-packed with local news, comment, pictures and information. An old-fashioned recipe — but it obviously still works! And what is truly remarkable is that the Echo’s catchment area population is no more than about 120,000. Can any other regional daily in the UK come anywhere near that? Well done Toby Granville. Keep steering the same course and you could be back to 23,000 in a few years!
Ivy Likes (26/02/2010 11:45:57)
I hope you wiped your wellies, Mike…
Steve Hutchings (26/02/2010 12:25:42)
That’s fair comment, Mike! But I am glad we agree on the fundamental truth. And, for the record, I am a great supporter of that ‘old fashioned’ recipe.