Ah, the ABCs – the six-monthly pain-fest for consumer publishers, where one part of their output (sadly, the declining part) is examined in minute detail and in isolation.
With some honourable exceptions, it’s not a pretty sight.
But publishers are nothing if not resilient and they come up with ever more imaginative ways of reporting bad news in such a way that it sounds like good news.
Here are some of the top techniques, executed with some panache last week, for spinning disappointing ABCs:
- Create your own metric. Find a big figure and talk about that instead. ‘Total copies circulated in last 12 months’ will normally produce an impressive sounding number.
- Talk headline figures, ignore the detail. Printing extra free copies is a time-honoured way of keeping the total ABC figure ticking upwards. There’s always a chance that media buyers will see the increased total and won’t notice the ongoing decline in your ‘actively purchased’ figure.
- Turn a negative into a positive. This is where your creative writing skills really come to the fore. Focus on your continued leading position in the market / increased market share / outperforming of market trends rather than on your own circulation falls.
- Report figures in isolation. If your circulation is still over 100k, then that’s not a bad sounding number. Highlight that and don’t make any YoY and PoP comparisons. Who needs to know that it was 200k last time?
- Muddy the waters. Magazine circulation might be down, but you’re attracting gazillions of followers on social media. Talk at length and in great detail about that.
- Keep quiet. Most people are still on the beach. There’s always a chance that no-one will notice…