In a recent blog, former Natmags chief executive and media consultant Colin Morrison sets out his vision for how newspapers should change radically in order to survive.
His suggestions include reducing weekday frequency, focusing on profitable weekend editions, separating print and digital into distinct businesses and, in some cases, going free, either completely or during the week. He points to the Star, Express, Independent and Guardian as possible candidates.
However, one publisher told me its vision for ensuring the long-term sustainability of the category – stop thinking and acting like a publisher.
News UK independents sales manager Greg Deacon pointed to the newspaper feature in last week’s RN as evidence. The theme was investment in the category, but the focus was largely squabbling over margins and sales figures rather than plans for the future.
Mr Deacon has banned the word ‘publisher’ from all sales meetings. Instead, they look at The Sun and Times as FMCG brands that outsell most others in any store.
One publisher told me its vision for ensuring the long term sustainability of the category – stop thinking and acting like a publisher
His job is to make these brands more relevant to consumers and increase their appeal throughout the day. In this week’s issue, you can read how News UK is doing this by working with stores to merchandise titles alongside water, chocolate and, in future, even fruit and veg.
Colin Morrison is likely right about seeing titles disappear from the news plinth in the future. However, I struggle to see how the economics of dropping daily editions stack up.
I believe there is a long future for print newspapers. Working together to create a thriving category is essential to safeguard individual brands. And those that make their brands most relevant to today’s modern consumers will undoubtedly have the most successful futures.
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