Johnston Press has begun the second phase of its newspaper relaunch project.
Twelve titles will relaunch this week with a further 32 adopting the new designs throughout October. The second phase follows an initial relaunch in May when 23 titles, including five daily newspapers which became weekly and another five which changed from broadsheet to tabloid, adopted new designs created by an international agency.
Advertising revenue and circulation revenue has improved at those titles and it has been decided the introduction of new technology for journalists will be linked to the ongoing relaunch schedule.
Chief executive officer Ashley Highfield said: “We received lots of feedback from readers of our Phase One titles – a lot of it good and some of it not so good as we would have expected – and that has informed our approach to Phase Two. We are trying different types of marketing and sales promotions and introducing further improvements to content.
“We expect to undertake further research during this second phase before looking to complete the rest of our relaunch programme.”
Ed Asquith, editorial director of Yorkshire Regional Newspapers and editor of The Scarborough News, which changed publishing format four months ago, said the relaunch had proved successful for his title.
He said: “For a newspaper that was almost 150 years old, the transition required a well-considered strategy. It has to be said that it was a leap of faith but the outcome has been so positive. That is partly down to the fact that we engaged the public from the beginning. We gave talks to the public, spending days at the main shopping centre, and I spoke to many business people in the town. But it is also because we ensured, with the help of a number of other people, that we got the tone, the projection and the content mix right. In addition to the look of the title, the effort spent on the content has also ensured that our sales figures are exceptionally high.”
Keith Ridley, editor-in-chief of the East Sussex titles based in Eastbourne and Hastings, whose papers relaunch on Friday, October 5, said the feedback from the Phase One relaunches had been invaluable.
“We have very strong communities and a loyal readership, and we have been careful to strike a balance between the new and the old. These relaunches are about evolution and not revolution.
“We have a smart new look and a lot of new content. But we will continue to evolve over the coming months. We want to attract a new audience without alienating those who already enjoy us.”
The remainder of the company’s titles undergoing relaunch are expected to move to the new designs starting in early 2013.