Rare Circulation Gainers Explain Today's Success!

By: Joe Strupp While most daily papers saw decreases in their circulation figures in today's Audit Bureau of Circulations FAS-FAX report, a handful boasted increases. But, at least among those gainers who spoke with E&P, the reasons behind the boost are not that simple.

The Oakland (Mich.) Press, which saw a 7.26% increase to 68,067 daily from 63,458, attributed much of the upswing to former readers of the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News, who switched over after those papers' cutback home delivery to three days per week.

"We aggressively pursued the business we knew would be available in Detroit," said Circulation Director John Lazzeri. "We put together a marketing campaign and threw all of our ammunition at the opportunity and as a result got a nice increase."

Lazzeri said the paper did not expand its home-delivery area, but did double the number of outlets for single-copy sales. He also said the paper highlighted its seven-day home delivery as a key selling point.

"We used everything from direct mail to inserts," he said. "We probably put out 700,000 pieces over a month or two to let people know they have a choice."

He said no price changes were made, either to subscriptions or single-copy. The paper also expanded north somewhat into the circulation area of The Flint Journal, which also cut back to three-day home delivery this year.

"No surprises," he added. "We saw it as an opportunity and took every advantage of it. We expected it to happen. There was no magic, just hard work and aggressive campaigning."

At the Las Vegas Review-Journal, executive are crediting their 6.56% increase, from 165,011 to 175,841, to a simple change in ABC rules that allow the paper's electronic edition to be counted in total circulation.

Steve Coffeen, director of corporate circulation for Stephens Media, which owns the Review-Journal, says the paper's print circulation is actually down seven percent daily and four percent on Sunday.

"I would say all of it is based on the electronic edition," Coffeen said of the increase. "We have about 20,000 electronic subscribers who were not allowed to be included before because of pricing rules. We didn't change anything, they changed the rules."

He said the electronic edition, which is a replica of the print paper on the Web site, launched in January 2007. Print subscribers who wish to have access to the e-edition pay an extra 65 cents per week. Those who want only an e-edition pay $2.50 per week. A regular print subscription is $4.30 per week, Coffeen said.

The New Haven (Conn.) Register, which saw a slight increase of 0.79% -- from 70,007 to 70,559 -- also credited it to an electronic edition that launched about a year ago. Circulation Director Tom Solt said that edition brings in some 500 subscribers. But he said a new program that provided another 7,000 E editions to its Newspapers in Education program, via local sponsors, also boosted the numbers.

"That is definitely the majority of it," he said of the increase. "We had a huge increase in electronic NIE."

The Chattanooga Times Free Press, which increased circulation 2.18%, from 68,088 to 69,569, credited the increase to in-house staffing and taking over some areas no longer served by other papers.

"Subscription acquisition is handled in-house and not through an outside party which allows us to customize sales programs as needed," Circulation Director Carroll Duckworth said in a statement to E&P. "Home delivery and single copy distribution have been expanded with rate increases into some areas vacated by other newspapers. Single copy partnerships have increased sales at existing outlets and provided access to new outlets."

Officials at the York (Pa.) Daily Record, which had the largest percentage increase among daily papers at 16.45%, did not return calls seeking comment.


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