Target Media Directory is a comprehensive media database that provides in-depth details of publications, broadcast stations, websites and blogs in South Africa, as well as prominent media titles across the African continent.

The brand spoke to Gerhard Oliver, owner and publisher of Rekord Media. He shares how the publication has built up its subscriber base across towns throughout the Free State by distributing local content.

What elements do you think make up a quality community newspaper that readers want to read?

Rekord readers love the way we package our news content. Our focus is on providing local and regional news in a way that our readers can read quickly and move on.

The days of lengthy articles are over. We keep it as straight-to-the-point and informative as possible.

Rekord has WhatsApp subscribers in each of the towns it operates in. How do you use WhatsApp to reach people?

Rekord Media plans to stop print copies within the next three years and go completely digital. In the majority of our smaller towns, like Memel, our subscription base has surpassed our print run.

Our online presence is growing steadily, and we are very proud of the growth we experience on these platforms. We have 11 WhatsApp broadcast lists, seven WhatsApp groups, 24 Facebook pages, 14 Issuu website pages and a website.

In the majority of our smaller towns, like Memel, our subscription base has surpassed our print run.

The majority of our subscribers receive Rekord via email, but we identified a younger market – readers between 21 and 35 – who spend more time on WhatsApp, so we launched WhatsApp subscriptions. To date, we have about 1 300 subscribers across the region.

The paper gets packaged in a PNG format and is sent to the subscriber, page by page, ensuring that all phones receive it as a picture. We also publish the digital copy one day before the printed edition, which is also a major advantage for advertisers who have specials. Our newspapers are also well supported on Facebook, with more than 74 000 views a week.

You also use email and Facebook to reach readers. Why do you think it is critical for your different publications to use a multi-pronged approach?

The answer is convenience. Why [would] you go and buy or get a local newspaper if you can receive it for free by email, or if you know you can read it for free on Issuu or Facebook? People spend more time on electronic devices than they do in retail outlets.

By offering this option, we manage to ensure that:
  • our newspapers reach the target market our advertisers are aiming for
  • we continue to reach the reader on a weekly basis, ensuring they get the newspaper and don't have to go look for it —especially farmers who, by norm, don't come into town on a daily basis
  • our readership stays steady
  • we can determine who reads our newspapers and then align our content accordingly
  • we get advertising — be it in print or on digital platforms.
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