Having spent more than ten years in Africa and understood the trend in media industry, Paul Marshall, a publisher, has made a big thing of his leading free daily newspaper ‘X News’ in Kenya and is aiming to reach new heights.
With his vast experience spanning across several countries and working for some of the sectors’ biggest businesses, the CEO of Xtra Publishing Limited took the plunge to invest in print media which has a promising future. As a fact, the launch of the first ever free Nairobi evening daily newspaper in March this year was a real time game changer.
In just a few months of being in the market, the publisher cheers up for making a blast in the industry with distribution of over 30,000 copies of the newspaper a day, and emerging the country’s third largest newspaper by circulation, running only behind longstanding industry players Nation and Standard.
Business Mirror spoke to Paul about his decision to invest in newspaper publishing and how it has affected the media industry, as well as the future of his publishing company.
BM: Can you tell us why you decided to invest in print media, coming from a technology and financing field, and how much have you invested in the business?
Paul: Although I had trained in technology and financing field I had for some time thought it a good idea to introduce a free newspaper in Kenya. I believed that the print media sector is a promising platform for an investor, and earlier this year we launched the country’s first free evening newspaper.. The concept of free newspaper has already worked across Europe, the Americas and Australia, with brands like Metro International, London Evening Standard, City AM etc.
Going with the traditional Kenyan print content, you will realize that it has not been able to attract a strong urban youth audience. Independent research proves that X News has already captured that audience by delivering fresh news that target 18-40 years young people and especially when leaving their offices.
Xtra Publishing has invested Ksh 320 million in the daily newspaper which is distributed in Nairobi County, and has involved other stakeholders like Fusion Capital.
BM: Besides X News targeting young professionals demographically, it also eyes big brands for advertising. Since you started the production what has been the response from both readers and advertisers?
Paul: The response from the readers has been very affirming since the newspaper is accessible and delivers fresh news. Even though paid for newspapers are widely available, the young professional Kenyan has not embraced newspaper purchasing due to the lack of relevance of the content and the poor value for money they tend to provide. For the young people who are hustling. our product has become their real time and relevant choice.
Unlike traditional newspapers which focus on politics, the X-newspaper focuses on fresh news mix that is inspiring, informative, credible and consumer-driven, giving little space to old style personality politics, and focusing on social issues and practical ways of improving the readers’ wellbeing.
The newspaper has been able to attract major brands already and if generating consistent and growing revenue.
BM: What do you attribute to the success of X-newspaper?
Paul: Extremely strong leadership and vision from the Xtra Publishing’s team, timely innovation and a laser focus on audience and markets. We are the platform that runs in the evening when most spending decisions are made and when commuters have an abundance of time on their hands.
The company has gone a milestone to enhance distribution across the city by shelving the newspaper at key matatu and bus termini within the Nairobi Central Business District, targeted office buildings and along major roundabouts and highways in and around the city. It is also circulated in Industrial Area, Westlands, Kilimani, Karen, Lavington, Muthaiga, Spring Valley, Parklands and Upper Hill. XNews also distributes over 3,000 copies daily to the University of Nairobi (UoN), the largest university in the country.
BM: What has been your major business challenge? How have you managed to overcome it?
Paul: When I started the business the major challenge was to increase the visibility of the newspaper to our targeted audience. This, however, has been a thing of the past since our team has been able to spread the gospel about the brand.
BM: Being the pilot of X News what are you planning to ensure it stabilises in media industry?
Paul: The major focus currently is to ensure we are able to reach our readers through digital newspaper. This will strengthen our value proposition to advertisers and also increase our availability to Kenyans in the diaspora.