"The fact that we are independent and are editorial-led is crucial. We stay true to what we are doing and we take great care to ensure the news is specifically only about the area of each magazine. "
The Now Magazines group last month posted 13,000 brand new copies of Kendal and Windermere Now through the letterboxes of every home and business in the area - the next edition will see 22,000 copies distributed.
Editor and publisher, Chris Plumb, took the decision to launch the new magazine in Kendal due to customer demand for the ‘editorial-led, community focused’ news that has seen the other titles in the group grow in popularity over the years.
Chris said: “Over the summer, we took part in a market research exercise and asked our customers what they would like to see from Now Magazines in the future. The idea of a Kendal edition has always cropped up over the years, but the response we had from our readers in the questionnaire really spurred us on to go ahead and launch it this year.
“We will be a different offering from the other media in the area, as we are a lifestyle magazine that focuses on uplifting, positive news stories, running bimonthly initially. We don’t cover any ‘trauma’ news. We are heavily involved with community groups and issues that are important to the local area.”
Chris took the helm as editor and publisher of the first magazine in the group, Grange Now, almost five years ago. Since then, he has developed three sister titles – Ulverston Now, Windermere Now and Kendal Now, and the group now has a combined circulation of 37,000. Chris worked alongside two part-time staff members when he took over the paper, which was founded in 1991. Now, he has a 12-strong team working across Cumbria on all four titles in the group.
Chris said: “When I took over, Grange Now had been going for more than 20 years. It had always been well received in the local area, but was more in the style of a parish newsletter. As I had worked in the print industry, I decided to modernise it and turn it into colour print and run a different style of editorial. It’s a formula that works.”
Chris added: “The fact that we are independent and are editorial-led is crucial. We stay true to what we are doing and we take great care to ensure the news is specifically only about the area of each magazine. So Ulverston Now is purely about news in Ulverston and so on. It’s always relevant and that’s why people enjoy reading it. Without sounding like a cliché, the reason why it works so well is because the whole team is so passionate about what they are doing and we never veer away from our formula.
“Each member of our team is based geographically in the area they write about, so they really immerse themselves in the community and get to know the issues that are important to them. They are all heavily involved, they will go to all the council meetings and events in the community. They can offer readers editorial that is high quality and balanced. We take great care to remain neutral and won’t take sides. We champion local issues and we write about what’s important to the local people. We always aim to be a voice for the community.”
Despite ABC reports this year that print newspaper circulations are continuing to fall, Chris is optimistic that print media still has its place cemented. He said: “We know our readers still like to pick up a newspaper or magazine and take their time to read it. People still enjoy the print experience. It might be the case that tech savvy 20-year-olds digest their news differently, but we know our readership and they certainly prefer print. We want to build on what we’re doing – it’s a formula that works and it’s an exciting time for us.”