Newspapers are not only news carriers but also a product that consumers -- our readers -- want to identify with. Building a relationship with them is the goal of the Dubai’s free daily 7Days, which wants readers to relate to the newspaper and to be associated with it.
“The newspaper’s role is changing the world over. Newspapers do not break news anymore. We have to create a role in people’s lives. Having a community aspect allows us to participate in their lives. By building a brand, we protect ourselves against competitors since readers become loyal to a brand more than a newspaper,” says Gemma McKeown, 7Days’ Marketing Director
In an effort to build the brand, 7Days set out to create an atmosphere in which readers believe "all people like me" read the paper.
The paper tries to achieve this with stories written with a consistent tone of voice. Editors select stories based on the relevance to the reader rather than purely their news worthiness. “This creates a strong bond with our readers – they feel we are speaking to them and that we are interested in their lives,” says McKeown.
The motto is, "The newspaper that gets you talking." Since 7Days reaches a mass audience (over 64,000 according to an audit carried out by BPA worldwide), and there is no terrestrial TV in Dubai, the goal has been achieved: “It is 7Days content that will be discussed in the office the next day,” says McKeown.
“Now we want to know what people say. If they go to a movie recommended by 7Days, we want to know their opinion about it,” she says.
More than a newspaper
Besides classical initiatives such as a large section of letters to the editor, or the possibility of commenting about articles online, 7Days has launched a radio program with a local station and a podcast function in its website.
The weekly radio talk show, ‘Viewpoint’, involves the best letters to the editor of 7Days being read on air, with listeners invited to call in and air their views.
“The program is a natural extension of the 7Days product positioning. It allows readers to further express their views to the rest of the nation and creates a live discussion forum on air. Readers feel they are being listened to and that their issues are being heard,” says McKeown.
Be a debutant at the Opera Ball
As a part of its strategy to create a community sense in Dubai, 7Days “has a role to play in bringing people together, giving them the sense that they are all reading about the same issues and aspiring to the same trends. Young people here are living a typical urbanite life, but they feel they are doing it all alone,” says McKeown.
“We also want to make them take part of what is going on in Dubai, something particularly important for our youth audience, from whom we have received countless letters complaining that there is nothing to do here,” says McKeown.
Through an application form in its website, 7Days currently offers its readers aged 16 to 25 the possibility of attending the Dubai Opera Ball 2006, an extension of the famous Viennese debutantes ball.
The ball is in its second Dubai edition and was looking for candidates. Due to its good international reputation, 7Days decided it could be a good opportunity to strength the papers position as provider of the right options in Dubai.
7Days decided not only to promote the ball, but also to encourage its younger readers to participate. “We highlight relevant activities to our readers that maybe they would not know about through other channels. We want to be a reference and to provide them with opportunities,” says McKeown.
The first step was to make readers aware of the ball. “We realized that the traditional debutante audience no longer exists and so the notion of partaking in a ball needed to be re-positioned for today’s audience as the trendy thing to do. The key proposition for the advertising was ‘being a debutante is trendy – and 7Days is giving you the chance to be one,” McKeown says.
The second step was to give young readers the opportunity of applying to attend the ball through an entry form in their website. “Entries were directed online to drive web traffic and also so that we could list the entry criteria in more detail,” says McKeown.
The 7Days’ brand strategy has allowed it to strengthen its place in society. As a result, the newspaper is gradually increasing its distribution. Although 7Days prefers not to give numbers, “the success in attracting advertisers reflects we are doing well. We have achieved our objectives and the paper is doing very well,” says McKeown.