After years of ongoing, rapid change in the UK local newspaper industry, businesses and the general public are often confused about the reach and influence of contemporary newspapers.

While paid-for sales of local and national print newspapers have fallen, the number of people who consume newspaper content across multi-media print and digital forms including websites, social media and mobile phones remains very large.

Businesses and other organisations with news, marketing and advertising requirements should familiarise themselves with the modern, multi-media newspaper landscape and beware of outdated, incomplete information or myths.

Contemporary newspaper businesses typically operate on a 24/7 basis across print and digital channels, and still reach mass as well as more niche audiences.

The publisher of the Daily Mirror and big city regional papers across the UK such as the Manchester Evening News, Birmingham Mail, Newcastle Chronicle and Liverpool Echo is now called Reach. Its websites and social media are read by a combined 37 million unique visitors per month, while its print newspapers are read by 9 million readers per month.

In Greater Manchester, the Manchester Evening News (MEN) website receives 90 million-page views (not unique visitors) per month, the largest of any UK regional newspaper.

On Facebook, The Manchester Evening News (MEN) is ranked among the world’s top-10 local publishers, according to social media technology firm News Whip. The MEN was placed in eighth position in a list of global publishers based on the degree to which readers engaged with its content posted on Facebook. News Whip calculated a total of 3,234,484 likes, shares, reactions and comments on MEN stories on Facebook in July of 2018.

The top-10 list was headed by the New York Times, Washington Post and the New York Post. The MEN was the only UK newspaper in the global list. The MEN also appeared eighth in the top 10 for average engagements per article on Facebook, with 1,494, just ahead of the Washington Post.

The printed edition MEN newspaper now sells an average of 37,000 print copies per day, according to ABC statistics. Around 17,000 print copies are bought at full price, 4,000 are bought by subscribers at a discounted price, and another 15,000 are distributed free in Manchester city centre.

Readership of the print newspaper changes through the week with high average sales of 64,000 on Thursdays and Fridays, as the weekend approaches.

Another major regional news publisher in the UK is Newsquest, which owns many daily and evening newspaper brands and associated websites. Newsquest currently operates over 200 UK news websites reaching over 25 million unique visitors and generating 842 million-page views per month.

Despite the decline in print newspaper sales, Newsquest still sells 100 million printed weekly and daily newspapers each year in the UK.

And its social media activities, such as posting reports on Facebook and Twitter, has over 6.2 million followers across the UK (based on 2018 statistics).

Regionally in the north-west region of England, local Newsquest titles include the Oldham Times, the Warrington Guardian, St Helens Star, Lancashire Telegraph, Bolton News, Bury Times and Sale Messenger. Together, these local news operations reach 88 per cent of residents in their core local markets, according to Newsquest data.

In the Oldham area, according to official JICREG industry data, the Oldham Times newspaper, which was launched in 2017, sells around 7,000 print copies per week, has almost 7,000 social media followers and reaches a total weekly readership of 18,000. Monthly, its website has 35,000 unique browsers and 152,000-page impressions, says Newsquest.

Still in Oldham, the Oldham Chronicle now publishes purely on digital channels through its website and social media. The Oldham Chronicle was bought in 2017 by Credible Media, which also owns radio station Revolution 96.2, covering north-east Greater Manchester including Oldham, Rochdale and Tameside.

Credible Media says its Chronicle and Revolution websites have a combined quarterly audience of 403,000 local users and nearly 1.5million page impressions – the number of times the websites have been visited or accessed per month (based on Q4 2018 figures). It says online adverts on the Oldham Chronicle website are seen 2.7million times per month and 550,000 times on the Revolution website.

Meanwhile through its local radio programming, Credible Media recently reported that more than 7,000 extra listeners have been tuning in to Revolution 96.2 every week in the last three months of 2018. Listeners now listen via FM analogue signals, DAB radio and online.

According to radio industry body Rajar, which surveys listening figures of UK radio stations, Revolution has increased its audience reach by 44 per cent. The station also saw a massive 72 per cent reach in listening hours, which measures the amount of time people spend listening to the station’s output. There are now 23,000 weekly listeners to Revolution 96.2, and a further 21,000 following its social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.

Credible Media also publishes three Oldham magazines linked to the Chronicle stable. These are called Oldham Business Edge, Signature and The Knowledge and cover business, lifestyle and education respectively. These have targeted audiences of 12,000, 15,000 and 10,000 on print and digital channels via the Chronicle website and social media.

So, contemporary local newspaper multi-media activities are far from dead. Local media should be seriously considered as part of your wider communication, advertising and marketing campaigns.

Cornerstone Design & Marketing provides support to clients in all these activities. We see local media as complementary to our services – not as rivals. Our staff include trained newspaper journalists with years of experience and widespread contacts across local, regional and national media.

Our PR services include business news press releases and photography which we send to targeted local, regional and national media catering for consumer, business and trade audiences. Furthermore, we also write content for our client’ own websites, newsletters and social media. Topics include new products, services, staff news including appointments, promotions, skills and training, and investment in facilities and property.

My own writing for Cornerstone tends to focus on producing business news and corporate website content and newsletters for clients.

I regularly write about sectors including furniture component manufacturing, precision engineering, civil and structural engineering, industrial energy recycling, pollution control, scientific and laboratory equipment, vocational training, law, financial services, upholstery, leisure and fitness.

Good photography is also important to gain media coverage and project a professional image of any business.

One example of Cornerstone’s activity in gaining local, regional and national news coverage can be seen in our work for furniture component manufacturer Hill’s Panel Products (HPP).

Working with HPP to create a variety of news and comment, our press releases and contributions for HPP have appeared in a wide range of media.

Locally and regionally, this has included the Oldham Chronicle, Oldham Times, Manchester Evening News, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, The Business Desk and Insider business news magazines, websites, newsletters and social media.

Nationally, HPP news and comment have appeared in leading kitchen and bedroom industry magazines KBB Review and K&B News and also the Financial Times. We have also invited local and national journalists to HPP’s manufacturing site to see new developments, such as the opening of a second production line for vinyl-wrapped doors. Visitors have included the editor of two national furniture industry magazines and a reporter from the Financial Times.

We have also worked with Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce to use its news outlets for member businesses and had great support from chamber staff such as Simon Cronin and Chris Fletcher.

Overall, this coverage has created a rich, valuable mix of news for HPP of interest to a variety of audiences.

In summary, local media coverage for HPP is seen by target readers including SME kitchen and bedroom installers, retailers and the public (consumers).

Regional coverage is seen by influential decision-makers in Greater Manchester and the wider north-west including professionals such as property developers, architects and interior specifiers.

National media coverage is read by key national figures and other target customers across the UK and Ireland.

Overall the range of coverage helps generate enquiries, sales, better brand awareness and a deeper understanding of HPP’s products and services, along with other benefits such as helping with the recruiting of new staff through positive publicity.Robbie



By Robbie MacDonald, PR Manager at Cornerstone Design & Marketing. Click to see our PR services here.

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