Magazine article Editor & Publisher

On the Rise: Virginia Weekly Increases Circulation by 25 Percent, Sees Revenue Grow

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

On the Rise: Virginia Weekly Increases Circulation by 25 Percent, Sees Revenue Grow

Article excerpt

While it seems more newspapers are reporting declining print revenue and circulation numbers, this is not the case for the Chesterfield Observer, a weekly based in Midlothian, Va. An independent audit conducted last spring showed the paper increased its circulation by 24.6 percent to 69,244--making it the largest-circulation weekly newspaper in the state.

The Observer is bulk mailed and delivered every Wednesday. The paper recently increased the number of copies bulk mailed by adding two new ZIP codes to its distribution area, boosting the mailing list by almost 14,000 homes. These new homes are located near the Richmond metro area, opening up a new market. Publisher Greg Pearson said the paper reaches about 60 percent of its readers by bulk mail. The paper also mails out about 200 copies to paid subscribers and advertisers.

The circulation increase would not be possible without a dedicated sales staff willing to take on the challenge. Pearson said he proposed several options for increasing circulation, and the sales team chose to work toward having the largest circulation in the state.

But, they had to increase advertising rates by 27 percent to obtain that goal. The Observer had not raised rates in three years. Pearson said he lost a few clients because the new ZIP codes did not add to their customer base, but the paper's year-to-date sales as of December 2011 were still up 39.2 percent compared to last year's, which was previously the paper's best.

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Pearson attributes the paper's rise in numbers to what he calls "an old business model based on print circulation. …

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