The Local Answer is a monthly magazine based in Gloucestershire, which was launched in 2009 with a distribution of 5,000 copies. Since then, their circulation has rocketed to 180,000 copies every month, with 169,000 of these direct to homes. This is a staggering 36 times as many households and businesses compared to when the publication started.
The family run business launched the publication to satisfy the requirements of advertisers needing to convey their messages to residents, and readers searching for local services.
The Local Answer is headed up by Managing Director, Dave Kingscott, who has shared with us the success of this monthly magazine and why he thinks it has gone from circulation strength to strength.
Could you give us some background information about the history of The Local Answer and how it has grown in circulation, especially when circulation is decreasing for many printed magazines?
I was a production manager in the regional press and then ran my own contract typesetting company, producing magazines and newspapers on behalf of other publishers. When we lost contracts due to customers being acquired by bigger fish with their own in house production facilities, I launched The Local Answer to provide work that no one could take away.
The first issue was March 2009, just after the recession had begun and the internet was starting to flourish – some people thought I was mad and the business was doomed to failure because of what was being witnessed with diminishing circulations throughout the industry. While the internet was always going to impact circulations, it seemed obvious to me it couldn’t replace some of the important benefits and characteristics of printed media.
Pessimism in publishing was being driven by people who thought the only way forward was online communication. In my opinion, many publishing groups threw the towel in on print altogether and all too quickly – seemingly accepting an ‘inevitable’ fate.
Print provokes readers to respond in a different way to receiving information online. With all attention focused on digital media, standards dropped overnight for newspapers and other large volume publications.
The key to our success and growth is our desire to be the best in all aspects. From the outset, and throughout our expansion, we have delivered The Local Answer to the vast majority of homes in the areas we serve – making our distribution the best by far. Our quality of content, artwork and print reproduction have always been the best too – continually improving over the years to stay ahead of any competitors in developing our relevance to readers. We also provide the best value for money and, so our customers tell us, the best service.
How important is a printed magazine to your advertisers and readers when information can be readily accessible online?
The internet is brilliant and we are in the process of developing our own website to be the best it possibly can be. The printed publication is a different beast and extremely well received in homes. The supply of information online is often rapid and incessant – we include a variety of articles, puzzles and information within The Local Answer for people to peruse at their leisure. This content supplements a great variety of services promoted by our advertisers, so people enjoy viewing the pages and dwelling on items of interest. This is of massive importance to our advertisers – clearly it’s a method of receiving information that our readers respond to.
How important is a printed magazine to you and your brand as well? And as a brand do you feel the pressure to go ‘online’ and eventually remove the printed magazine?
As mentioned above, we already have a website which is now being developed to emulate the positive responses generated by our printed publications. We believe they will work in harmony, each benefiting the other through the marketing opportunities they provide. Our ‘brand’ is strong because we are honest and hard working – we enjoy a great reputation for quality and delivery with readers and advertisers alike. Achieving our objective to develop a wonderful website will not adversely affect our circulation – it’s more likely to help force an increase in the number of homes we deliver magazines to.
And finally, how long have you worked with PCP and what is the best thing about working with us?
We’ve entrusted PCP with the printing of The Local Answer editions since July 2013 – i.e. six years. We share the same values – PCP always strive to demonstrate total quality in everything they do. We can rely on quality and punctuality, and their staff are a pleasure to work with – extremely professional, helpful and friendly. All these things combined dictate that, for me, the best thing about working with PCP is that I am totally relaxed.
Pictured L-R: The Local Answer directors Dave, Lois, Helen & Robert Kingscott at the 10th Anniversary celebrations.