Monday, 14 May 2012

New compact era for the Strathy Herald

The new compact Strathy

The final broadsheet edition
The Strasphey and Badenoch Herald went compact on Thursday, marking the start of a new period for the paper. For me and colleague Mike Brough, though, it was the end of a fascinating project that began almost two years ago. In June 2010 we were asked by editorial director David Bourn (a fellow Geordie boy and Newcastle supporter who used to edit the Norwich Evening News and was deputy editor of the Hull Daily Mail) to look at his newly acquired portfolio of papers. Since then we have helped the editors in Northern Scotland redesign the Inverness Courier, the Highland News (see the changes here), the Northern Scot, the Banffshire Journal and the Forres Gazette. The change to the Strathy, though, are the boldest. It's a hugely popular title and taking it from its text-heavy broadsheet format to a lively compact is, inevitably, a risk. The early signs, I am pleased to say, are very positive. Gavin Musgrove, the Strathy's editor, emailed me on the day of the relaunch to say: “The initial feedback this morning has been fantastic and our fingers are crossed that this will turn into extra sales and advertising revenue this week and for the road ahead. I’m absolutely delighted with the results of the redesign."
The paper looks great but there have been tough decisions on the way. Taking one of the most successful titles in the UK and radically changing it wasn't something embarked on lightly.
Gavin said: "It was not an easy step to take as an editor or for Scottish Provincial Press. Our sales have held up well at a time when many other titles in the UK are suffering declines.
“However, the time had come to freshen things up. Whilst the appearance of the Strathy has changed radically and there is plenty of new content, the emphasis is still very much on local news. That is our unique selling point."
And Gavin (also a Newcastle supporter) was kind enough to give the SMS team a mention too. 
“Peter came up with some very thought-provoking concepts on what a new Strathy could look like which really got the whole process off to a flying start.  And the contribution made by Mike in bringing our vision to reality cannot be under-estimated. I was hugely impressed by his expertise – and he was a pleasure to work with, which always helps." 
Thanks Gavin, it was our pleasure too. The Strathy looks modern and vibrant and is rammed with great content. My only sadness is that our role has finished ... not only because we will miss the Geordie exiles and native Highlanders but also because the Castle Tavern in Inverness has become one of our all-time favourite pubs. Still, I am sure the papers will need some training, consultancy, conference, publishing work in the near future. Won't they David?

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