REGIONAL MEDIA: GUNNING FOR YOUNG LOCALS - Regional publishers are finding new ways to reach out to the next generation without local newspapers, Mairi Clark writes

ABSOLUTE LEEDS



Regional Independent Media's Absolute Leeds is slightly bigger than A4

and is both free and paid-for. It targets a lifestyle rather than a

demographic, according to its advertising director, Jeannette

Walmsley.



"We distribute free copies to exclusive outlets such as David Lloyd Gyms

and the Crown Plaza Hotel as we want to get it into the hands of

people," she says. "Originally we targeted 18- to 35-year-olds but we're

now targeting a market even wider as we got such a good response from

advertisers." The magazine's editorial is mainly lifestyle content such

as restaurant, club and bar reviews, but it also includes celebrity

interviews, travel and new music. It probably boasts the most extensive

advertising of all the regional youth magazines as well as an albeit

small classified ads section.



It's written by staff from the Yorkshire Post and an ad manager from the

Yorkshire Post oversees advertising which is handled by two telesales

people.



The circulation of 15,000 looks set to grow as RIM has had inquiries

from Harrowgate and has started to distribute copies there. The

18-month-old magazine is kept separate from the main papers, although it

does get promoted in Metro, which RIM publishes in Yorkshire.



"Absolute Leeds is a young brand," Walmsley says. "But it's also already

very established. We have good point-of-sale in newsagents and the

branding in the clubs and bars is very good for us."



SPANK



Of all the regional youth magazines we're profiling, Spank is probably

the funkiest and also the most clearly focused. Sister to The Citizen

and The Echo, it's distributed around the bars, clubs, fashion shops and

stylish outlets around Cheltenham and Gloucester ten times a year and

has a circulation of 8,000.



Taking a similar A5-sized format to Pavement, it mainly covers clubbing,

but with some lifestyle-focused editorial as well, which seems almost

token in its inclusion. Like Pavement, it was created when one of the ad

sales executives complained that she was unable to target some of the

clients that she had at her previous job (at a lifestyle magazine) and

suggested a youth magazine as a point of entry.



Spank is distinct from the newspapers and won't even indulge in

cross-newspaper promotion or advertising. "Our market depends a lot on

the student market which is why we publish a double issue in July and

August and at Christmas," James Taylor, the special publishing manager

for The Citizen and The Echo, says. "We distribute the magazine anywhere

young people would go and that keeps it separate from the other papers.

It's difficult to know whether readers of Spank would read the papers as

the readership profiles are so different and, as we give Spank out free

while the papers are paid-for, we can't ascertain whether they'd buy the

papers because of Spank." The magazine, launched in June last year,

features local advertising, but has had interest from national

advertisers and some of the UK's biggest nightclubs.



SOURCE



Newsquest's Source magazine in Brighton is printed on thick newsprint

rather than glossy paper and everything about the monthly says

"student".



Its laidback layout suits its laidback audience.



Launched two-and-a-half years ago, it's distributed free to nightclubs,

bars, trendy clothes shops and cafes and reaches a circulation of

13,000.



Newsquest, its parent company which publishes the Evening Argus and the

Leader, didn't launch it but acquired it from a Brightonian who was

publishing it independently.



"The first thing we did was increase the circulation from 10,000 to

13,000," Jonathan Cook, the group ad manager at Newsquest (Brighton),

says.



"It was such a perfect model that we haven't changed much since we

acquired it. We tightened the design and added content elements such as

live music listings. It's very much a part of our regional press

offering." Source carries ads from local merchants and, in Cook's words,

"new-generation" retailers. Cook says that it's difficult to keep a

youth-focused magazine credible, which is why it vets new

advertisers.



" Adverts have to be in context with the editorial, although that's not

to say that we will refuse ads," he says. "But we will try and make

things credible if they're not."



Source has got street-cred. Now there's no traditional research to prove

that but you just have to look at the people in the street who are

reading it.



PAVEMENT



Eastern Counties Newspapers' Pavement is A5-sized, and has the widest

subject range of all the small youth-focused supplements. Although

clubbing is a big part of its editorial, Pavement also covers reviews of

fashion, gadgets, books, films and music, as well as listings and

celebrity interviews.



The magazine launched in June last year after employees of the Eastern

Daily Press and the Evening News suggested it to management. After

talking to advertisers, Eastern Counties launched the magazine with one

full-time editor and a full-time sales executive. The rest of the

magazine is written by freelance contributors. Pavement also runs club

nights at local club nights like the DeP(r)avement event at Ponana,

where it has branding but also generates revenue.



Pavement has a circulation of 10,000 around Norfolk, Suffolk and

Cambridgeshire.



According to Stefan Phillips, the advertising director for ECNG Norfolk

Publishing, the magazine hasn't had an effect on the readership of their

main newspapers, but it has brought in a considerable amount of revenue

from local companies.



"When we launched we placed a few ads in the papers, but nothing

substantial," Phillips says. "At the moment we target 18- to

30-year-olds but we're finding that our advertisers want us to stretch

the age group to 35. We haven't pushed the magazine to national

advertisers, but we are about to place our first ads from Beck's."



CITY LIFE



The oldest of our profiled youth supplements at 18 years, City Life

originally started out as a student title but quickly grew into a

paid-for lifestyle magazine and even a separate company - Diverse Media

- from its parent, the Manchester Evening News.



As the city has developed into a clubbing and weekend destination, the

readership profile of both the magazine and the paper has got

younger.



"49 per cent of Manchester Evening News readers are under 40, and of the

readership of City Life, 85 per cent are under 44 and 23 per cent are

under 25," Mark Rix, the advertising director of MEN, says.



The magazine has seen some of its advertisers drift into the Manchester

Evening News, but Rix doesn't believe that City Life's readers will

follow suit. "With MEN we have to appeal to a broader audience, but

wouldn't take the same direction as City Life," he says. "I don't think

there's been an effect, although we haven't researched that." The

magazine and the newspaper cross-promote and carry similar job and

property ads, although the magazine also carries national brand

advertising.



"We've been able to attract premium brands which we wouldn't have

carried in the newspaper, so it's certainly allowed us to create

revenue," Rix says. "We see City Life as a way of capturing the

readership of tomorrow.



We'll eventually see City Life readers reading the newspaper, but it's

hard to quantify."



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