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Regional title adopts ‘newsletter-led’ approach as website takes back seat

Deanne BlaylockAn online-only regional title has adopted a ‘newsletter-led’ strategy that has seen websites take a back seat at nine of its sister publications.

Reach plc has announced the move at Northants Live, which will mean digital newsletters become “the flagship medium for reaching any given audience”, with websites supporting that approach.

It comes after Reach adopted the strategy permanently at its ‘Live’ titles covering Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Sussex and Hampshire in January.

According to the publisher, a trial of the tactic in Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Live in November led to the five titles delivering against their newsletter page view targets.

Deanne Blaylock, pictured, South East senior editor at Reach, told HTFP: “Earlier this year, our original engagement-led websites already took some first steps towards building a model that focuses more on engaging local loyal audiences and less on traditional website-based content.

“We’ve now got some very clear priorities for ten of our newsbrands to continue this work, engaging readers through a variety of formats and looking at topics through a creative storytelling lens.”

Reach’s Live network editorial director Paul Rowland previously said of the strategy: “We are not in the website business, we’re in the business of reaching and engaging people.

“We know that newsletters are a brilliant tool for developing rich relationships with our most loyal readers – especially at hyperlocal level – so we’ll be asking a selection of our newsbrands to focus on a smaller total of more engaging stories, with a website supporting the newsletter rather than vice versa.

“We know we can make these newsletters the absolute must-read, must-share local news source in our communities.”

“With that spirit in mind though, we won’t be wedded to newsletters forever, if we find that there’s another medium for building a strong relationship with our audience. This is an exciting step in ensuring that we continue to keep our local audiences well-served with news tailored to them.”