Added value. Do you want it? Of course you do.
No matter what you’re buying, from three for twos in supermarkets to 50 per cent extra free bags of sweets to extra talk time on your mobile contract, we all want more than the ‘standard’.
The same goes for your local newspaper too. Trinity Mirror and Newsquest have unleashed the latest tactic in the battle to prop up readership and revenues – the big, beefed-up free supplement.
Yes, newspapers have carried supplements for years but the twist here is the way the content is being created and distributed.
In Trinity’s case, the bulk of the content that’s going into the bright, bold and packed 28-page Weekend supplements carried by their regional titles, such as those in Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham, Cardiff and Liverpool, is coming from a new shared content unit rather than local features desks.
This is a specialist features team, based in Liverpool, producing stories that aren’t geography-specific – celebrity interviews, recipes, interiors, gardens, fashion, travel and days out.
The local teams still get a handful of pages every week within the pullout for specifically local stories, but in the main this is a one-size-fits-all policy.
Now, there’s no question this makes sense financially and due to the headcount being down to bare bones across most of these titles – but the question is, will the readers notice the disconnection?
These pages say nothing to them about where they live, although the supplements are of a high quality and, when taken with the glossy TV magazine that has also been added in on a Saturday, adds up to a hefty package.
However, readers are being expected to pay for their added value – in the Manchester Evening News’ case 70p, 10p more than The Sun.
Meanwhile, Newsquest’s Bury Times title has taken a different tack – employing two young reporters to fill a new Weekend supplement of locally focused content.
So instead of the generic approach, Bury Times’ readers get a page on their local shops, local people appearing in regular features such as a style file and a ‘bucket list’, a cookery page featuring local chefs and restaurants, plus local gigs, entertainment and listings.
Again though, readers are helping to fund this new service – with the Bury Times cover price rocketing up from 60p to £1.
Ultimately, it’s the readers who will decide if these new tactics are a success.
However, in this climate of ultra-local being the buzzword for reader connection, it seems that giving your readers added LOCAL value is going to be the winner every time.