It might be the Sunday papers…

st.jpg…but is anybody reading?

Ask anyone who knows something about anything and they’ll tell you that the Sunday Times is influential, that it has significant reach into high-end demographics, that it drives recommendation and purchasing decisions…blah de blah de blah.

Well, it’s a myth.  Like dragons.  And let me slay this one once and for all.

I was featured in the Sunday Times yesterday (as was my family).  Not just a little mention either.  The first two words of the article were my name, the next one my age and the next four my occupation.  It then went on to discuss our life here in France…or at least the bit of it related to the rental of our holiday properties.  And there was a picture.  I was even quoted as using the word “caboodle”.

I don’t know about you, but if I saw someone I knew featured in the Sunday Times, I’d probably give ’em a call.  Or send an email, or a text:  “Saw your ugly mug in the Sunday Papers…nearly hurled my cornflakes…”  That sort of thing.

Twenty-four hours on from the article’s appearance and what have we had?  One call.  From the Mother-in-Law.  And she gets to stay here for free.

My only conclusion – based on an admittedly small research study – is that the Sunday Times exerts no influence whatsoever over its readership.

Actually, that’s not my only conclusion.  Others might be that I have no friends that read the Sunday Times.  Or, more simply, that I have no friends.  But my Facebook profile tells a different story (OK, so this might be a slight flaw in my otherwise rock-solid argument).  I also recognise that the Property section comes fairly well down the Sunday Times hierarchy.  But surely it trumps Travel and Appointments? 

I’m also concluding that the purchase of the Sunday Times is purely a habit.  In the same way that I flick the kettle on upon entering any kitchen, a decent proportion of the UK population searches out a newsagent and buys the Sunday Times every weekend.  Both are largely a waste of energy.

Extrapolating my bitterness argument, I’m also going to conclude that old media is well and truly dead.  Indeed, the only positive result that will come out of the article will be due to this blog post, confident as I am that it has greater reach (and if anyone would like to sign up to my new training course: “How to extend the influence of traditional media coverage through the creative use of social media” than please drop me a note).

I said “caboodle” for Christ’s sake.  Surely that’s good for something?

29 thoughts on “It might be the Sunday papers…

  1. Here’s the killer question: what piece of coverage has led to most leads/bookings?

  2. Macca says:

    You raise some interesting points. 1. I don’t think people are reading papers like maybe they did in the past (especially when you have little kids running the show like in my house) 2. Have the Saturday papers, and all their various supplements and magazines impacted the popularity of Sunday titles? I admit, I didn’t buy a Sunday paper this week (naughty me) 3. Have Sunday papers, the Sunday Times especially, in its desire to out ‘do’ each other, got so many supplements and inserts, full of adverts, that many actually get lost AND some good editorial is therefore left unread?

    All that aside, I think you look lovely in the photo – bit like a cowboy looking over his ranch…only in France…and you are not a cowboy…are you?

  3. rax says:

    Spotted this yesterday, Mark!

    By ‘eck… you’ve made it!

    Rax 😉

  4. Mark says:

    Wadds – this is actually the first piece of media coverage we’ve ever been included in, so it’s difficult to say. The company that was the main focus of the article (Tots to France – tells me that they’ve seen a significant uplife in site visits this morning, so my already weak argument is further undermined.

    Macca – I’m not a cowboy, no. Though the wife’s a bit of a cowgirl, I’m happier with the traditional French phrase: “A horse isn’t for life, he’s for lunch”

    Rax – thanks for noticing!

  5. grantie says:

    How very interesting. The thing is, i DID buy the sunday times yesterday and i didn’t see you chap. Reason? Because the Sunday Times is so bleedin huge these days that even a Sunday spent vegging doesn’t provide you with the hours to read every bit.

    So you prioritise (probably based on habit, but more likely based on interest) and so i read main paper, sport, business, culture, review, magazine, travel. IF i have the time. Property doesn’t usually get a look in (although i will of course read this eve now).

    I think what you have beautifully highlighted is the issue around mainstream media penetration and the fact that there is a singular lack of data on what parts of these ma-hoo-ssive papers people *actually* read by numbers and demographic. Instead you are just told they have a huge circulation and therefore it must be good to be in them…

  6. grantie says:

    Well i can tell you that by using the word ‘caboodle’ you have pushed the article to the heady heights of 8th on a Google news search on caboodles the world over! Well done chap

  7. Mark says:

    Yes, it’s the prioritisation that’s the killer, isn’t it? Though with you in the market for a house, I did at least think Property might beat Travel at your place. And main section before Sport? What’s wrong with you man?

  8. Rob Rhodes says:

    You’ve got no chance with me mate, don’t buy a Sunday paper these days, to busy driving up and down the M1. When I’m at the farm I read the parents Sunday paper, but as they are staunch Conservatives, they only buy the Telegraph.

  9. James Warren says:

    Sport, Style, Business.

    Nice fence.

  10. Mark says:

    Thanks mate. Mark Adams creosoted it for us. And there aren’t many who can say that.

    Sport, Business, Style for me. But you can tell that just by looking at us.

  11. Toby says:

    Even the physical act of carrying the weekend papers home is becoming a true feat for even the manliest of men. Supplements are the old news’ attempt at creating something for everyone which, incedentally, the internet already does.

    The future of news isn’t the end of hard copies just yet, but is certainly won’t consist of 3,000 pages of copy each weekend…

  12. Wadds says:

    Isn’t creosote an illegal substance ?

  13. scottdouglas says:

    I’d very much like to sign up for your course on extending the life or the traditional media through blogging.
    As long as I don’t have to plough through the the Sunday Times to find the application form in the classified columns of the Business section.

  14. Mark says:

    Not over here pal. We drink it.

    Actually, I was using the product name as a verb, like when the wife ‘hoovers’ but we don’t actually own a ‘Hoover’. In the interests of full transparency, the fence was actually painted with Targobois. It stinks.

  15. Matt Ravden says:

    Two problems, mate. First, 89% of Sunday Times readers also buy the Sunday Sport, and get distracted by the nipple count. Second, nobody books holidays in Europe at this time of year. People will stash it away and you’ll be flooded with bookings in January/Feb.

    On the Gadget Show last night they had a competition between the girl and the bald bloke on how to get famous over the internet. He did a caterpillar break-dance through the streets of London, while she took her kit off in a computer game designed by a viral marketing agency. She got 250,000 hits, and he got more than 2 million on YouTube. So you need to pull a stunt, not talk to boring old ‘press’ journalists. Get on your bike and cycle naked to Provence. That should do it.

  16. Simon Marks says:

    Hmmm… is this thing on? *tap* *tap*

    I’ll try a second time. First time round I wrote something incredibly clever and witty, but it’s too early in the morning to try that again.

    So – nice blog. Nice fence. Don’t read the Sundays as I have too much other stuff to get done and I’m usually still working my way through the Economist. Oh, and surprised it took you this long to realise that PR doesn’t actually work. But don’t tell the clients… shhh…


  17. Mark says:

    Well, as you know, I’m already cycling from London to St-Emilion next May, so if I strip off everything should be OK, yes?

    I saw the Gadget Show video thing too. I was thinking that maybe I should do a ridiculous video diary of me as a stereotypical Frenchman (stripy t-shirt, onions) ’cause that fella on the show who was doing the ‘how to be English’ videos was getting loads of hits.

    Do you think that’d work?

  18. Simon Marks says:

    Well, you can get the hits – but then you’ve just got a bunch of xenophobic nutters or nude cycling pervs who want to stay at your place. I’d like to read the case study on that.

  19. Matt says:

    Funnily enough, I didn’t get loads of calls from insulation companies when my house and I featured in a CENTRE PAGE SPREAD of the Homes section of Sunday Times a few years back for a ‘how crap is your house at conserving energy’ feature. I think Chris Wright noticed I had been in it, but he was busy buying a boat (or a Ferrari, I forget), so he only mentioned it in passing… I was gutted…

    I love to buy the Sunday Times, but never, ever read it other than glancing at the Travel section a few weeks later when I’m clearing all the papers out of the front room…. I blame being a dad.

    As for the naked bike ride…I think that’s a winner mate…probably need liberal amounts of vasoline (or similar), but nothing too slippy, those seats are quite narrow and you could end up having a nasty accident.

  20. Simon Marks says:

    Cycling, nudity, vaseline and the French…

    I think I feel a Billy Connelly monologue coming on…

  21. Chris Wright says:

    Sounds like The Sunday Times is going the same way as the Interweb. Most people only ever have time to read it at work.

    Carry on creosoting. The 1998 vintage was a particularly good one. Adams drinks his with poached buzzard. Here in Yakkidahland we prefer a more ecofriendly casein version. Tastes of cheesy milk though.

  22. Mark says:

    Hello pal!

    I thought about you yesterday evening ’cause I was watching that programme with Griff Rhys Jones doing up his cottage in Pembroke. I was half expecting to see you and Cliff pop up, but I guess it was that other lot? It’ll probably fall down next week.

  23. Chris Wright says:

    Nah. It’ll be fine. Cliff taught the guilder (girl-builder) about lime at Aberglasney about 10 moon years ago. We were warned off by the artichoke (top bloke). His comment about Gruff Rice-Bones: “He’s a bit bloody London.”

    All good PR for lime though. It’s on tele so it must be true.

  24. Mark says:

    Yeah, it was all very credible until that bit where they said that cold lime stuff made the water boil! Pah! As if.

  25. notetoeditors says:

    B*llocks, I’ve got a piece for a client running in this Sunday’s edition. Wish I’d pitched the Observer now.

  26. pr-otagonist says:

    Sadly it looks as though your impressive comments haul on this post might have already outnumbered the readers of the article. Oh well, I guess its just another thumb in the eye for traditional media.

    Totally agree with the comments above on the obesity crisis affecting Sunday papers. Utterly bollocks I wish someone would stop feeding them supplements through the railings!

  27. James Warren says:

    subject hi-jack: blur’s alex james devotes almost three full pages of his (spectacularly brilliant) autobiography to extolling the many virtues of the cheese baguette at la rochelle airport. it is, he maintains, the finest cheese sandwich anywhere in the world (and he knows his cheese)

    c’est tout (as they say in Holborn)

  28. Mark says:

    It’s a goody, and no mistake. Though I normally restrict myself to a Leffe and a chat with the barman. It’s pretty much my local now, the little restaurant at La Rochelle airport. I should have a tankard hangiing above the bar.

  29. […] while back, Mark Pinsent blogged about the value – or not – of getting featured in the Sunday […]

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