Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Is ABC really as easy as 123?

A high circulation - combined, of course, with decent informative editorial - is at the heart of every good free newspaper.
After all our strength is the little figure - found commonly on the back page or page 2 - which reveals the number of homes our product gets to.
Advertisers still love circulation figures because it equates to readers, and we are almost entirely dependent on the money they spend each week in our papers.
So, when our management decided at the beginning of the year that it would be a wizard wheeze to cut costs by slashing distribution, everyone else thought it was the act of incompetent fuckwits.
And how the chickens have finally, and beautifully, come home to roost with the new ABC figures.
My titles' circulations are down by tens of thousands of editions. In one case a quarter, another a third of their previous totals.
We print them next week and advertising staff are already being 'trained' how to lie their arses But our advertisers are not stupid and, mostly, live locally. They suspected this was coming months ago.
When little Billy the paperboy from number 7 gets the bullet from his £2.50-a-week job and they don't get a paper that week, they knew about it.
When their mum from the other estate and their brother-in-law from three streets over also don't get a paper they get a call.
When they meet other business people and hear the same stories they started to realise they are getting fed a rather large and unpleasant shit sandwich - with no sauce.
Now they actually know they are chomping on a turd baguette.
Readers are also equally unimpressed when they suddenly stop getting what they thought was their local paper.
They talk. They know. After all where the fuck do we get our stories from.
Suddenly your paper has gone from the powerful champion of the people, to an irrelevant, barely read, unreliable free sheet.
I see tumble weed and the hear the tolling of a single bell.
Once a decent ABC figure is achieved it should be cherished and protected.
Paperboys and girls found dumping editions in skips and under bridges should be flogged then sacked.
Every complaint to my desk about lack of delivery means at least 50 editions, sometimes as many as 200, have not reached their destination ie into the readers glorious, slightly sweaty, mitts. I used to get 5 a week. I now get 15-20.
I encourage and cajole my reporters to take each complaint seriously by recording it and sending it to our distribution department.
The very best complaints - those from powerful local figures or advertisers - I email to our head of distribution, our MD and group ed.
The resulting fall out of these latest 'cost saving' measure, I predict, will cost the company - and more importantly our papers' reputations - far more than the few thousand quid they 'saved' over the last six months.
This is short-term, bean-counting bullshit thinking at it finest.
Do management arseholes who have been in this industry longer than ten or twenty years actually realise all of their 'improvements', 'efficiency savings' and 'modernisations' over the years are the reason we are now witnessing the extinction of newspapers?
Or do they wake up and wonder how it is the newspapers they bring out weren't as good as they were six months or a year ago? Despite the fact six months to a year ago they sacked half the staff.
Short term cuts are always seen over a long term period, you absolute no mark wankers!
Wake the fuck up before it's too late!


  1. Same here too - our circulation dept is no more. Just an empty room with a solitary phone with no-one to answer it. So, who do we get in touch with when the newsagents complain in their droves that their deliveries haven't arrived? Fuck knows. Some twat in head office about 200 miles away probably who doesn't give a shit. Isn't progress great?

  2. Oh Blunt - there is as much chance of them coming to their senses as a psychotic murderer caught at the crime scene with a bloodstained axe.
    They know what they've done by following business strategies that actually destroy the products. But they're not going to own up, why should they?
    Meanwhile the money has rolled in.. for them. Fat salaries for bean counters, bonus schemes that reward mediocre executives (including some editorial chiefs) for cutting costs rather than shifting more papers, bringing in fancy and expensive 'consultants' to 'identify efficiencies' and 'help manage change'.
    The worst characters pay lip service to customer care, product development and decent marketing.
    What they've done is the commercial equivalent of you or I running a libellous story every week. But they will get away with it because as the decision makers they can declare it's all down to market forces, trading conditions, stroppy journalists, blah blah blah.
    And the description by Anonymous, above, of their circulation dept: 'Just an empty room with a solitary phone with no-one to answer it' is a one sentence colour piece that sums it all up.

  3. The fifth Yorkshireman3 September 2009 at 15:02

    Lets face it, Free sheets are fucked - every businessman with a 17 year old relative has worked out thast its a hell of a lot cheaper and better for their ego to get them to design a cheapo website than advertise in a newspaper - and they won't come back when times are better.
    Regional dailies are fucked too - the BBC regional websites have seen to that. The only glimmer is in the weekly paid-fors, which are just about surviving despite the best efforts of the management to destroy them.
    BTW one local freesheet which started out as a paid for 100 years ago went back to being a paid for in the outlying areas, and it actually worked, selling 1,000 copies a week. fortunately the opposition is shite, but it just goes to show...