In their reactions to the latest ABCs, publishers have again proved themselves to be masters of spin.
There’s no circulation fall big enough that can’t be respun to your advantage. If you’re unlucky enough to have suffered a circulation dip, here are a few pointers when crafting your press releases: 1. If your circulation has fallen, but not by as much as your rivals, then focus on your “increased market share” and describe how you “out-performed the market”. 2. If your rate of circulation decline is less than it was last time around, then talk about “improving trends”. 3. If your circ was down, but at the same rate and comparable to your main rivals, then you’re “performing in line with the market”. Depending on your situation, you might be able to say, “still market leader”.
In the spirit of accentuating the positive and discouraging too close an examination of the actual figures, it’s also advisable to talk at length about any recent redesigns and key appointments, all of which sadly came too late to affect this set of figures, but will undoubtedly have a big impact next time.
Generally speaking, avoid words like ‘drop’, ‘fall’, ‘minus’ or ‘precipitous’. If you’re going to include actual figures, then best to only use the current ones; include nothing that will invite an actual comparison. The fourth option is to simply say nothing and hope that no-one notices.
If you can’t manage any of the above, then check your pulse; you might have already headed for that great newsstand in the sky.
If your circulation has actually grown, then the advice is somewhat different: be very detailed and specific, include lots of figures, avoid ambiguities, show trends and use the word ‘growth’ as much as possible. Congratulations, you are a star, and no spin is required (this time).