News International looks to PR to boost flagging titles

The Sun and News of the World set to bring in new PR agency to stress online prowess.

News International is planning a major PR offensive to breathe new life into The Sun and News of the World brands.

The publishing giant has already drawn up a shortlist of three agencies for a brief to find fresh ways of promoting the two 'red tops', which are seeing declining circulations. A pitch is expected to take place later this month.

The promotional rethink emerged days after the news that The Sun editor Rebekah Wade was to become chief executive of News International, charged with re-energising its five newspapers.

An insider said the PR brief reflected the company's ambitious aims for its key tabloid titles. The source said: 'It is looking to grow its brands at a time when newspaper circulation is facing its biggest threat in decades.'

The insider added that News International was looking for a consumer agency and that the ensuing PR campaign was likely to stress the online offerings of The Sun and News of the World.

Another well-placed source with a News International background said: 'It could be trying to get across the message that it doesn't just have the printed product, but also a strong website offering.'

The pitch is understood to be led by News International PR manager Helen Prowse, who joined the company in April from her role as account manager at 3 Monkeys. Prowse confirmed a pitch was under way but would not disclose any details of the brief.

Wade will become News International's chief executive from September. She will be in operational charge of its four national titles - The Sun, News of the World, The Times and The Sunday Times - and freesheet thelondonpaper.

Announcing the appointment last week, Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of parent company News Corporation, said Wade would help to 'develop a new model for our industry'.

CIRCULATION FIGURES

2,984,103 - Average circulation of The Sun during May 2009. Down 5.24 per cent year on year

2,924,137 - Average circulation of News of the World during May 2009, down 6.84 per cent

4.53 per cent - Fall in average circulation year-on-year across national dailies in six months to May 2009

6.66 per cent - Drop in national Sunday papers in six months to May 2009

Figures from ABC.

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