Sunday's sweet success

By: Joe Strupp Don't tell Dean Lehman that Sundays aren't happening.
Lehman, whose 17,000-circulation Loveland (Colo.) Daily Reporter-Herald added a Sunday edition two years ago, says it's among the best moves he ever made.
"Sundays are good newspaper days," says Lehman, president of Lehman Communications, which runs three Colorado dailies. "There was a general feeling at the time that a Sunday newspaper would be an appropriate addition because there is more interest from readers in things that a Sunday paper can provide."
Lehman is not alone. In the past five years, the number of Sunday newspapers has grown steadily from 884 in 1993 to 903 today, according to The Editor and Publisher Yearbook. That is in sharp contrast to the number of daily newspapers, which has dropped from 1,556 in 1993 to 1,509 last year.
Industry experts attribute the rise in Sunday publications to a growing demand by both readers and advertisers for more weekend news. Analysts say readers have less time during the week to catch up on news and want a Sunday product that can keep them up to date.
"Sunday remains the most relaxed day of the week," says NAA president and CEO John Sturm. "People are still busy on Sunday but not as busy as they are during the week."
Advertisers agree, citing the growing need for a bigger Sunday selling position to grab busy readers on their only day off.
"That is more of what is going on in the marketplace," says Carol Fletcher of Starcom Media Services, a national ad broker. "Readers want a Sunday paper. Sometimes they don't have time during the week, so they catch up on Sundays."
Advertising experts say the Sunday editions offer space for endless inserts and a more relaxed, focused readership that pays more attention to run of press (ROP) ads than a rushed, weekday reader.
"People are making more of an appointment with their Sunday paper," comments Paul Bankert, print supervisor with New York-based Zenith Media, which handles several national advertising accounts. "It's a good trend that began several years ago and it is snowballing."
Editors say readers want the in-depth stories, features, home and self-help sections, weekly news review, and even obituaries that a Sunday edition provides.
Publishers who have added Sunday editions say they took the plunge only after careful consideration of costs and long-term benefits.
"It takes up to two or three years to really see the revenue and we believe it will be a good, long-term move," says Kathy Hollis, advertising director for the 6,000-circulation The Alexander City (Ala.) Outlook, which added a Sunday paper in 1997. "We expect it to be good in the long run."
Hollis declines to cite added costs or revenue increases since the Sunday paper began. But she says the new venture has increased rack sales on every edition and brought in acceptable revenue.
Don Cooper, publisher of the 17,000-circulation Galesburg, Ill., Register-Mail ? which added a Sunday edition two years ago ? says the expansion is a perfect ad-driven business decision.
"The national chain stores are on a cycle where their inserts are banking on Sunday," Cooper says. "Kmart, Penney's, Sears, they all want it."
Cooper, who hired seven new staffers for the Sunday expansion, says the need for more local weekend news coverage also helped push the Sunday edition. "We thought we were missing local news and the opportunity to let our readers know some things first," Cooper recalls. "Over time, it will be our biggest day."
?(Editor & Publisher Web Site: http:www.mediainfo. com) [Caption]
?(copyright: Editor & Publisher February 27, 1999) [Caption]


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