Do not misjudge the power of The People

Despite having more than half a million readers, Sunday tabloid The People is often overlooked by PR professionals targeting the higher-profile nationals.

This could be because The People's circulation, although respectable, has dropped dramatically since the glory days of 2000 when it stood at 1.6 million.

Currently, the Trinity Mirror publication has a circulation of 585,527 - somewhere between The Independent on Sunday and The Sunday Telegraph, but nearly half that of stable-mate the Sunday Mirror.

But bosses are on the case to turn the paper's fortunes around. Former Daily Mirror assistant production editor Lloyd Embley was appointed as editor last June. Trinity Mirror also recently appointed Paula Scott as The People's first publishing director, ahead of a relaunch planned for autumn. In addition, the newspaper is trialling a youth sport supplement called JSP.

Under Embley the paper has changed direction slightly. 'We know we are a red-top but we have turned our back on needless grubbiness,' he says. 'We aim to entertain, amuse, shock and inform but we don't see the point of sleaze for its own sake.'

This approach makes The People an ideal target for PROs with celebrity, real-life or sports stories to pitch. And those who have not forgotten about The People agree the journalists are good to work with.

EdenCanCan account director Crissie Bushell sells in celebrity-based stories. 'Obviously I am not going to pitch in high-end clients such as The Roof Gardens or some of our high-end fashion clients, but for some of my bars and clubs it is great coverage as the readership and target market are just who they are aiming to reach,' she says.

Mercieca PR director Gemma Oakes has worked with The People for clients Black & Decker and DeWalt, for whom it is 'bang on target audience'.

'They want exclusivity, but will attend group interviews and will react quickly to last-minute opportunities,' she says. 'They always deliver when it comes to branded images and copy mentions.'

Jessica Newsome, board director at Kazoo, says: 'We have worked with The People's sports desk for the past eight years. They are very clear about what will and won't work, and have a good understanding of what we need to deliver on the client side without jeopardising journalistic integrity.'

The People also has opportunities for more than a simple story sell-in. Citigate Dewe Rogerson associate director Billy Partridge says: 'The sports desk will sometimes tie in a competition or promotion to an idea. The personal finance editor is keen on case studies so trying to source one before you pick up the phone is a good way to show willing.'

QUICK FACTS

Frequency: Every Sunday

Circulation: 585,527 (ABC February 2009)

Contacts

Editor: Lloyd Embley, 020 7293 3000, lloyd.embley@people.co.uk

News desk, 020 7293 3201/3202, peoplenews@mgn.co.uk

A MINUTE WITH ... Lloyd Embley, Editor, The People

- What makes The People different to its competitors?

It is closer to its readers, giving them leading real-life content, sport that covers not just top teams but lower leagues and community football, and regionalised editions. It champions what readers care about. The People is easygoing and sunny.

- Who reads The People?

It is enjoyed by people who live a simple life and like to take things at their own pace. They have strong family values, know their own mind and are comfortable with who they are. They have homely interests and they rely on The People to champion what they care about.

- What are you looking from PR agencies?

Clever, unusual, innovative solutions. Proper engagement with journalists.

- What does the future hold for The People?

We have invested in full colour and are working on a redesign with a bright, fresh look. We have dramatically increased our marketing spend and have built partnerships with brands including Disney and Paramount.

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