There have been plenty of changes at APN NZ of late, with the relaunch of the daily Herald last year and restructures of both the editorial and sales and marketing teams. And now the Herald on Sunday, the country's best performing newspaper, is getting its turn with what editor Bryce Johns calls "a complete revamp of the paper’s look and feel, and improved content mix".
After the re-launch of the week-day edition of the New Zealand Herald in September, APN NZ wanted to continue with its programme of product improvement and innovation by re-launching the Herald on Sunday and, like its big brother, extensive consumer testing was carried out to find out what to retain and what to change.
"The new design is modern and changes to content have been made to meet the needs of Sunday readers for an easy, relaxing, Sunday newspaper that delivers a broad range of content with substance," Johns says. "... Feedback from our readers to the new look and feel has been exceptional. The new design helps us highlight the quality work of our journalists while maintaining the accessible and warm tone that readers are looking for in a Sunday newspaper."
The new-look paper will maintain its stapled news section and include an improved lifestyle and entertainment magazine, Living (reader favourites from the current View section, including Spy, TV listings and movie reviews, will be incorporated in this more comprehensive “weekend lifestyle” liftout), as well as a new stand-alone real estate section, Homes.
Johns says the paper hopes to build on its strong spot news focus as well as its ability to break news stories and highlight the people, personalities and circumstances behind them.
“Bigger reads, like the campaigns for ‘2 drinks max’ and ‘Clean up our beaches’, will be moved earlier in the book," he says. "Readers have told us they want these sort of campaigns and the in-depth, investigative work done by our journalists to be better displayed and promoted, which we will do," he says.
In the latest round of circulation and readership figures from October last year, The Herald on Sunday was once again the only title to record an increase in both readership and circulation compared to the same time in 2011. It now delivers more readers than the rest of the Sunday market combined, both in Auckland and across the Northern Region, and it increased its overall circulation by three percent to 102,031 (this was slightly down on the previous quarter's results, however).
Connecting with 384,000 New Zealanders each week, its readership increased by 2,000 on last year and its audience grew by 10,000 in the Northern Region to 362,000, delivering 5,000 more readers than the two other Sunday titles combined. It has experienced similarly strong growth in Auckland, increasing 11,000 to 252,000 readers, 9,000 ahead of the rest of the combined Sunday market.
The Herald on Sunday has out-performed its competitors in both readership and circulation growth since launch in 2004 and currently has a 48 percent readership lead against the Sunday Star Times in its core circulation area north of Taupo (the Sunday Star-Times was down across the board in the last round of figures, registering an overall decline in readership of 14 percent year on year and going from 540,000 to 466,000 in an average week. It also registered a 14 percent decline in circulation in the past year to 134,956).
The new look Herald on Sunday launches on 17 February.