What is happening with Regional and Community papers in the UK

There has been a general trend in the UK to look at costs of local and regional newspapers which has resulted in many closures of offices, movement of dailies to weeklies and of course some papers closing or becoming online newspapers only. This is a trend that we will start to see in Australia in 2012 and 2013 and has already happened with the closure on the Sunshine Coast of the News ltd papers.

In addition, we will see broadsheets go to a smaller tabloid version and the latest news is that weekly newspapers are going to be delivered into a new ‘quarter-fold’ size which is roughly half the size of a tabloid newspaper. For Archant Newspapers in Kent, they have done this with an increase in distribution from 50,000 to 80,000 with a focus on local feature content as well as news. Johnston Press one of the largest regional groups is closing offices right across the country, with editorial staff not being told where they are even going to be working from. We know and recognise that costs are eating at profits, however is there still time to leverage these very strong brands and make an impact.

These changes will start to happen in Australia soon.

We need to be looking at how consumer and readers are reacting to this as we know that over 81% of consumers continue to shop locally.  We need to be preparing for this change. How do consumers want to interact with retailers, is what newspapers are currently offering them the best opportunity or if newspaper owners don’t leverage their existing brands into this area, will this marketshare simply be lost to another player? Similar to Sensis or Yellow Pages – I asked a room of around 20 people how many people had an Ad in the yellow pages some 3-5 years ago. Back then half the room would put their hands up, now I am lucky to have one business still using them. This is such a sad story, as they had their brand and this coverage to themselves and directories as we know them today and in the past won’t exist in the next five years.

See this article here from Jim Chisholm –