The Standard is counting down to a major relaunch this Wednesday 29th March in what is billed to be the most comprehensive retouch of the newspaper. The relaunch, which is basically a redesign of its pages and refining content, is hoped to excite the market and accelerate growth in readership as the election draws nearer.
Standard insiders say the company has spent between Ksh10 million and Ksh20 million on the redesign, a huge chuck of it paying newspaper design experts from the United States, regarded among the best in the world, while some of it has gone into hiring new writers and editors. “Let me put it at 10 to 20 million shillings,” said someone close to Standard’s commercial operations.
This is a huge gamble for a company that is just emerging from loss-making caused by a drop in advertising revenues coupled with an expensive retrenchment. But it can payback if the relaunch translates into more circulation and advertising.
The newspaper size will reduce by almost an inch to match the Daily Nation and help it cut the cost of newsprint, one of the biggest expenses in the production of newspapers. Insiders say two magazine pullouts will be introduced in the new-look standard. The education pullout could make a comeback to replace Wednesday magazine that currently carries general features.
To back up the new direction, the Standard has strengthened its team by hiring new editors and writers. The writers include Dominic Wabala, who was retrenched from The Star late last year, and a number of reporters who had been pushed out Standard through retrenchment. Also, former Daily Nation counties editor Sammy Wambua has joined the Standard.
With Joseph Odindo, a former top editor at Nation, as editorial head, backed up by former Nation news editor Eric Shimoli and special projects editor Dennis Galava, Standard is firmly in the hands of a reunited NMG team that will be out to teach its ex-employer a lesson or two.
Waiting for the big change
Standard has been running teaser adverts emphasizing change, which has raised expectations in the market.
Higher circulation will attract more advertising at a time when the government has banned ads in private media. But the challenge in a relaunch for newspapers is sustaining the excitement beyond the aesthetics with more attractive content, as the impact of a redesign dims after two or so weeks.
Standard follows the relaunch of the Business Daily on 20th March, which media observers say was brought earlier by the Nation Media Group management to steal the thunder from its rival.