Press Gazette reports today that only three UK daily newspapers grew their circulation in the first six months of the year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation.
Two of those were Archant Norfolk titles. The Eastern Evening News, which was up 3.4 per cent on the same period last year with sales of 19,161, and the Eastern Daily Press, which saw a 0.6 per cent rise to 59,490.
In the second half of 2010, the Eastern Daily Press was up 0.4 per cent to 59,389 and the Evening News up 0.5 per cent to 18,923.
Earlier this year I interviewed Don Williamson (pictured), Archant Norfolk’s head of sales and audience growth, for Press Gazette.
He stressed that the success in Norfolk was the result of work to build circulation going back several years and a change in status for his team.
Williamson said: “When I first came to Norwich circulation was in the basement, now we are in the boardroom.”
He added: “Our journey really started two years ago when we put together the key structure of an eight-strong circulation team focusing on nothing other than copy sales, rather than distribution or worthy causes like schools’ campaigns.
“We concentrate on circulation and building copy sales. Circulation is one of the strongest and most stable revenue lines.”
Williamson also stressed the importance of having three of his team “out on the road” every day visiting newsagents and providing daily e-mail reports giving feedback on how the titles are selling and what stories have had the most impact.
He said as well as the streamlined structure, there is also a culture within Archant Norfolk that building circulation was “not down to one team in the building,” adding “We regularly hear from editorial colleagues with contacts and ideas. We go to forward planning meetings with the heads of editorial content. Part of the discussion held is about sales activity.”
The sales activity focuses on casual sales in newsagents as well as encouraging readers to take home delivery of their newspapers. The casual sales effort involves supplying newsagents with good display equipment and offering them bigger commission than the national press.
Home delivery is built on canvassing and the Eastern Daily Press is now 55% home delivered.
Williamson said there is a local expression “You do different in Norfolk.” He believed it applies to Archant Norfolk, where there is a “local feel and local decision making”.
Pic: Don Williamson (Archant).