Tips of the trade - RELAUNCHES

Mark Dickinson, Liverpool Echo editor

Start and finish with the readers. Understand what they want, what they don’t want any more and where they are going. Be clear about the objectives of your relaunch: to fix tired concepts, to add value and choices, to refresh your offering, to be more relevant and more exciting.

Be focused on your target reader. For example, families with school age children. Picture them and make sure everyone understands who they are, where they live and what their interests are. Involve all stakeholders in the business – they have ideas to add; they are readers too.

Be balanced and have a range of choices in your newspaper across your target readers every day.

Early week, where advertisers are like rocking-horse dung, think about moving platforms. Why should readers buy a half-size newspaper on Tuesday? Finally, plan carefully and in detail.

Listen. Act decisively. Make sure everyone – readers and advertisers – know you have relaunched. Be lucky.

Mark Ellen, Word editor

Each magazine is different and the relaunch process depends largely on the staff you inherit. Emap bought Select in 1991 and the team were put in a minibus and driven round to an office we’d rented for them in Holborn. They were the most sulky and unco-operative individuals I’d ever met in my life. I was strongly advised to sack the lot. Virtually all of them went on to win awards and two launched magazines of their own.

Karl Schneider, Computer Weekly editorial director

The three most important things when embarking on a relaunch are: clarity, clarity and clarity.

When asked about your objectives, if the answer is “we want to freshen it up a bit”, then forget the whole thing.

The key to a successful relaunch is the brief. It has to be detailed and set out exactly how the original magazine is viewed and used (or not used) by its target audience. It has to explain in detail how the relaunch intends to change this.

For the 2003 relaunch of Computer Weekly, the brief ran to 27 pages. If you are not in a position to produce something like this, then you are not ready to embark on a relaunch.

This is a thorny issue when tough market conditions make it tempting to cut back on research costs. But without the clarity that quality research gives, how can an editor even understand what is meant by a successful relaunch, let alone achieve one?

Gary Shenton, Your Leek Paper editor

The recipe for the success of Your Leek Paper has been a simple concoction: we give readers what they want, rather than giving them what we think they should have.

Our great strength has been our ability to work together as a team, drawing on our vast experience in the local newspaper industry.

All of us live or work in the area the newspaper serves so we are constantly aware of the needs and wishes of the community.

Every staff member has had an important role to play in helping to establish the newspaper and there has been total commitment from day one.

We have learnt quickly that the newspaper industry is a cut-throat business, but so far we have managed to blunt any sharp knives that have been thrown in our direction.

compiled by Vikki Miller

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