A regional daily editor has taken to the sofa to find out what readers think of his paper.
Ian Murray, editor-in-chief at the Southern Daily Echo, is touring shopping centres and other venues in Southampton on a big red sofa to chat with shoppers and workers about what they like and what they would like to see more of in their local paper.
The first ‘Come Join Me Among the Scatter Cushions’ session at Southampton’s city centre Marlands Mall has already taken place and Ian told HTFP he is pleased with the initial feedback.
“We publicised the event so some of those who arrived came with specific points to make, questions to ask, but many people just saw what was going on and decided to stop and have a chat,” he said.
“Of course there were some gripes and grumbles, but that’s what I wanted to hear as well as the plaudits of which there were many.
“Everyone was appreciative of the fact the paper was taking the time to meet them and listen to what they had to say. It’s not just a marketing event, there were some strong news leads and we follow those up.
“The conversations are private at this stage with no microphones, but I’m hoping that future events will see local personalities such as the leader of the council or sportsmen and women joining me on the sofa for an open chat.”
The sofa sessions were launched following the arrival of new managing director Amanda Davison-Young and is the first in a wide range of initiaves aimed at raising the profile of the paper.
“Like all editors I am often out and about meeting readers in all walks of life, but I’ve never before sat in a shopping centre on a couch hoping someone wants to stop by and natter,” added Ian.
“It was really good fun, the greatest challenge being to limit people to five or 10 minutes each as quite a queue formed. I was rather flattered really.”
Each of the Big Red Sofa sessions has been sponsored by local businsses and colleges, and in-paper coverage includes photos from the events.
The paper’s marketing team attend the events and take the opportunity to hand out promotional material and information to passers-by.