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Telegraph increases student circulation with scrapbooking programme

The Telegraph Genius programme ad that attracts young readers to participate through scrapbooking activity.
The Telegraph Genius programme ad that attracts young readers to participate through scrapbooking activity.

As a challenger in the market of the Indian state of Odisha, ABP’s The Telegraph implemented a plan to increase circulation numbers enough to eventually move it from No. 3 to No. 1 in the market by encouraging younger people to become habitual newspaper readers and a dependable part of its audience as well. 

Ambitiously, ABP also sought to remedy a predictable seasonal drop in circulation and to generate an additional revenue stream. The beauty of this educational programme is that it reduces those circulation drops, even during exams and summer and winter breaks. 

The solution? Scrapbooking. 

Scrapbooking encourages family involvement with The Telegraph and can make learning a fun-filled exercise. By meeting several criteria for which a scrapbook was the core, students could be a Telegraph Genius.

The requirements were to: 

  • Be a student in one of seven schools in Bhubaneswar or in one of three schools in Rourkela in the state of Odisha. 
  • Show competence in the fields of general knowledge, current affairs, and self-development over a three-month span by scoring above 50% on randomly held classroom quizzes. 

After meeting those criteria, students faced additional challenges: 

  • Maintain a scrapbook with articles mentioned in a message board appearing in random locations in The Telegraph (50 points). Class monitors were appointed as “genius facilitators” to ensure that students maintained their scrapbooks on a daily basis. 
  • Answering daily questions that appeared in the message board appearing for monthly open-book quizzes using their scrapbooks (30 points). 
  • Attending self-development workshops (10 points). 
  • Participating in a slogan contest (10 points).

The programme had two categories for students of different ages (IV to VII Standard, and VIII to XI Standard). Every month, top students from each class received medals of recognition, and at the end of the three-month period, those scoring 90 points or higher were honoured with a co-branded certificate of completion in The Telegraph Genius Programme.

These honours further “brand” the household, ensured word of mouth among neighbours and relatives, and raised curiosity in other parents about the programme in schools not yet participating. 

The scrapbooking programme was designed to regularly draw not only students, but their parents, teachers, and principals to the newspaper as well. They, in effect, become brand ambassadors for the newspaper and create demand through word of mouth.

The programme was successful in establishing The Telegraph as a new brand in the market, moving it from a lesser-known and lesser-read newspaper to greater brand salience and recall.

As a result of this effort, Telegraph circulation figures in Odisha moved from 120,000 to 170,000 within a month of the programme. It became the No. 2 newspaper in Rourkela, and ABP predicts that it will move from No. 3 to No. 2 in other Odisha cities as well.

The “Telegraph Genius” name ensures top-of-mind recall for the brand. It also provides positive reinforcement for the brand by leaving parents with the feeling that The Telegraph is the first to recognise the latent genius of their children; the newspaper serves as a private tutor that provides their children both general and specific knowledge, especially about current affairs. 

The programme also produces an ad revenue stream, since advertisers can place their strip ads below the message board that contains the question. 

In all, this was a low-cost brand initiative with high returns. 

About L. Carol Christopher

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