It was April Fools' Day yesterday, but it feels more like Valentine's Day today, as the Sunday Herald attempts to entice lost readers back to the paper with a voucher pricing the paper at just 50p tomorrow.
A full-page advert on page 12 of sister title, The Herald, reads as if it should be voiced by Barry White. This is no ordinary newspaper promotion, this is a Sunday Herald promotion.
It begins: “Hey.”
And continues: “You don't know how good it is to see you again. How have you been? Have to say…you're looking fabulous.
“Here? Yeah it's good. Things have been pretty exciting in many ways since you left. But, to be honest, you've been missed. There's been a bit of an empty feeling when you weren't around to share things with.”
The sales pitch follows a 21 per cent drop in the paper's year-on-year sales in Scotland, according to the latest official circulation figures, for February. On January 9, the paper became a single-section, 'news magazine', but last week, in response to reader feedback, a sports supplement was introduced. A common complaint has been people unable to share the paper around the breakfast table on a Sunday morning. Its February average sale was 32,936.
“So,” continues the schmooze, “There have been rumours you were seeing someone else. No…shouldn't have asked. That's no one's business but your own. All that matters is we're back together. Let's just concentrate on the future…and the good times ahead.
“OK things went wrong between us. It wasn't you…it was me. Took some decisions which really annoyed you. Thanks for the chance to put things right.
Readers are required to cut out a voucher that they present to their retailer, in order to purchase the paper for 50p.
And the promotion ends: “sunday herald – The news magazine that heart [the symbol] its readers….. YOU TALKED…WE LISTENED”
A media release issued by publishers, the Herald & Times Group, reads: “The award-winning Sunday Herald, relaunched this year as a pioneering newspaper that feels like a news magazine, is attracting plaudits from readers.
“Initially produced in a single section, the title last Sunday introduced a pull-out sports section as a response to reader feedback.
“Readers Tweeted: 'Delighted that the Sunday Herald has a pull-out sports section again. Cracking poster too.'
“Another said: 'Love that! Well done for listening.'
“'We're proud to respond to our readers,' said editor Richard Walker. 'They love the format but wanted to share so by popular demand we've changed sport and we're considering other innovations.'
“And it's not just readers who love the Sunday Herald. The title has more than a dozen shortlisted nominations in the Scottish Press Awards in which the newspaper business honours the best of Scottish journalism. Last year, it won the prestigious European Weekly Newspaper of the Year accolade.
“The Sunday Herald circulation held relatively stable last weekend when the newspaper market in Scotland generally fell, pleasing advertisers who appreciate the vivid design and fine print quality which show adverts at their best.
“The newspaper that broke the expenses scandal story about former Livingston MP Jim Devine, sentenced this week to 16 months in jail for falsely claiming more than £8,000 of public money, maintains its record as tops for breaking the exclusive news that readers need and want to know along with the in-depth cover of everything from crime to culture.”