How the ‘Bend Bulletin’ Grew Circ 34%

By: Mark Fitzgerald

The Bend (Ore.) Bulletin isn’t included in the Audit Bureau of Circulation’s list of the 25 biggest circulation gainers in this period’s Fas-Fax because eligible papers had to have a minimum 50,000-circulation. But the Bulletin’s growth — 34.3% year-over-year on weekdays — is notable not just for its stunning percentage, but the e-edition strategy behind it.

The Bulletin in Bend, Ore., reported daily circulation of 43,895 — a jump of 11,213 or 34.3% and Sunday circ of 43,126, up 10,583 or 32.5%.

Keith Foutz, the corporate circulation and operations director for parent company Western Communications Inc., said the increase is a result of a change in strategy at the Bulletin, which has offered e-editions since late 2005. The paper had been charging $10.50 a month for the print edition and $8 a month for its e-edition.

“In 2008, we adapted a rate strategy of charging our print subscribers an additional 50 cents more per month if they wanted access to our E-edition,” Foutz said. Print subscribers could opt in or out of the payment. “We had an aggressive marketing campaign and were able to capture the majority of our home delivery print subscribers into a combo sale,” he added.

But the Bulletin did not count those additional print subscribers who signed on to the paid e-edition until beginning this Jan. 1, after getting approval from ABC.

For this reporting period, which for the Bulletin covers the average from Jan. 1 to March 31, e-editions totaled 12,462 Monday through Friday in the reporting period, and 12,092 on Sundays.

The next reporting period it’s likely the Bulletin will be eligible for ABC’s list of circulation gainers. Foutz said the paper’s current circulation is running at about 54,000.

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