Sunday Herald redesign
My initial reaction to the revamped Sunday Herald was one of puzzled disappointment. Apart from some largely cosmetic changes to the paper itself (the business section is now incorporated into the body of the paper), the revamp focuses on the supplements.
Elvis in a kilt playing the guitar should have made for a great cover page with which to launch the new Sunday Herald Magazine but the reproduction quality in the copy that I read was so poor that I was left feeling very under-whelmed before I had even opened the first page.
This was a disappointment because quality was something the old Sunday Herald Magazine had in spades. In contrast, its old stable-mate Seven Days was always cheap and cheerful, but as it operated as an entertainment guide and TV listing I never felt it suffered as a result. These two titles have now merged and the decision by Newsquest to adopt the paper quality of the old Seven Days magazine in marrying the two titles together certainly seems strange considering broadsheet Sunday papers tend to stand or fall based on the quality of their supplements.
Once I got further into the new magazine, the unhappiness of this marriage became more evident. A big advantage of the old two-title offering was the ability to place the classified/listings content at the back of each magazine. The new title has entertainment listings, a property classified section and a travel classified section all in the thirty pages leading to the TV listings pages.
So why has Newsquest decided to merge the two titles? Newsquest’s official reason is that they are reacting to consumer demand. They point to two stats from a 2005 reader survey to justify this assertion. Firstly, 30% of their readers complain of not having enough time to spend reading Sunday newspapers – I might have bought this one had the new magazine not weighed in at a corpulent 87 pages! The second stat they refer to was that 11% of their readers indicated that they felt Sunday papers had too many sections. Not exactly evidence of a landslide of popular opinion for losing their flagship supplement!
It seems to me that this decision has been motivated purely by commercial reasons – it certainly looks cheaper to produce than the old Sunday Herald Magazine. However, while Newsquest will undoubtedly save money on the production of the new title, they might have to take a hit in ad revenue as a result. Certainly my view is that the new product is much less attractive to advertisers with the new one-size-fits-all approach reducing the focus of the environments available within the paper and the lower paper grade reducing the potential impact of client’s ads.
This is a shame because the high standard of editorial deserves a better vehicle. I’m sure the King would agree.
head of press
Change for the sake of it is never a good thing but in this instance I think the Sunday Herald is pretty much on the mark.
I’ll say up front that I am a Sunday Herald reader and have been for ages so am well positioned to comment. The most obvious change is the merging of the Magazine and Seven Days into one. A bigger (on all fronts) and more robust product is the result and, all in all, I like it. It’s retained all the nice bits of the original magazine and delivered them in a cleaner, bigger version including much of the Seven Days content repackaged. Sections now feel beefier with Decor and the Arts standing out as well positioned and packaged. On the addition of the TV and radio sections I understand the inclusion but I am still to remain convinced - I have had the chat how they add to extended shelf life, blah blah – I don’t buy it. Let’s face it, most of us have satellite or Freeview of some description these days so there is not a chance I’ll plan my weekly viewing using a newspaper when I can use a button.
Onto the main paper itself - other change of note is that business and recruitment have now become part of the main paper as opposed to being wrapped in / around / out of sport…this was previously an annoyance to me. I hated having to dissect the newspaper to get the sections in the page order that I wanted to read them.
So lets get to the crux of it – why the change? Reader research or not, it’s an attempt to try and grow the reader base as well as generate revenue. The UK national titles have done and continue to make strong headway in Scotland so the indigenous quality press such as the Sunday Herald need to act and act now. The nationals are strong and some could argue, getting stronger. There will be investment from TNL in the form of The Times so the competition is unlikely to ease so a timely revamp indeed.
The Media Shop Scotland
‘Shock of the New’ Pop artist, Roy Lichtenstein, clearly provided the inspiration behind the ad creative for the re-launch of the newspaper on Sunday 5 August. With the continuing theme of ‘no ordinary Sunday’, the commercial stands as a quirky, bold attempt to cut through the usual Sunday newspaper TV commercial market, and it succeeded. Newspaper ads, radio commercials and TV commercials were used for the re-launch in what was clearly a tactical campaign to create renewed interest in the title and to encourage additional sales on the day.
Success will be recorded in increased sales of the Sunday Herald of course, and in whether those additional readers stick with the paper over the crucial autumn period.
The newspaper package itself is more robust looking, mainly due to the magazine, which has a real ‘body-builder-with-six-pack’ look about it. To me, it makes sense to condense fashion, TV, property, travel, arts, etc., all in one place as it makes the magazine look hefty enough to leave on the coffee table all week for reference.
The sports section is more easily located within the paper, which for a keen football supporter – armchair or otherwise - is essential when this section is the first one to be sought.
A key aim of the Sunday Herald is to continue to provide platforms for debate and opinion, and the separate clustered pages specifically to encourage and inspire new thought are a welcome point of difference in the market.
The number of pages given over to business news is reduced it appears, and there is no longer a separate section. However, with the relevant business news pages now found easily on the outside back page of the main section, and continuing inside, there is an advantage as regards ease of access to the information.