Against a background of tumbling circulation numbers, slashed adspend budgets and the carnage in the aftermath of the debilitating postal strike, there’s a glimmer of good news in the form of encouraging growth for SA’s leading sci-tech title, Popular Mechanics.
The magazine’s latest audited figures, for Q1 2016, show a healthy 7,4 per cent improvement in total paid circulation, compared with its 2015 year-end performance. If assessed on the basis of total paid circulation plus free circulation – for a total of 37 285 – that improvement is an even more noteworthy 16,5 per cent.
Popular Mechanics’ latest cover story – Tough Guys – could not have been a more apt description for print media survivors battling for survival in extremely tough conditions. “We are well aware that this positive news comes on the back of a year-on-year slump,” says editor Anthony Doman. In common with other major players, Popular Mechanics has much work to do to return to the buoyant times of a year or two ago: year-on-year, its paid circulation is down 17,5 per cent.
“Our readers’ trust in a massively successful brand that’s more than a century old plays a big part in maintaining our competitiveness,” Doman says. “And that’s backed by an editorial mix that is, effectively, unique on the South African market.”
Recent tweaks to that mix are designed to ensure that Popular Mechanics remains a compelling package for readers – and, by implication, advertisers. “We’re working on some great ideas to keep us ahead of the curve,” Doman says. “For instance, in the past year, we strengthened our consumer tech offering and in time will be looking to formalise product testing. This year, we’re getting set for significant activity in an often neglected area – youth skills development. As always, we’ll be sharpening our focus on content that syncs with our readers’ lifestyles to tell great stories, especially those with a distinctly local flavour.”