"We're back" says The Racing Post, the British daily horse racing newspaper, which has marked its return to print by channelling the famous fax Michael Jordan sent ahead of his NBA comeback.
The title suspended print operations for the first time in its 34-year-history in March when the UK went into lockdown and sport came to a standstill. Now, with horse racing lining up to be the first mainstream sport to return to live action in the UK on 5 June, the title is gearing up for its own return next week.
While Racing Post endured as a streamlined digital newspaper, app and website news service, it claims its return to print has been highly requested by subscribers.
Racing Post editor Tom Kerr said: "Both when we stopped publishing the newspaper and since the return of racing came into view, we've been inundated with messages from readers of the newspaper bemoaning its absence and asking when we'll be back.
"While print is a challenging environment at the best of times, never mind during a global pandemic that has shut down large swathes of society, it's evidence again that readers continue to have an incredible loyalty and passion for newspapers."
PR firm Ready10 was tasked with announcing the return. It had already enjoyed a long-term relationship with the title to handle PR and SEO, with a brief to get the most out of the paper’s content, attract new audiences and get content consumed as far and wide as possible.
David Fraser, founder of the PR agency, said: “With racing scheduled to come back, we got a call two weeks ago and told we were back on – and this time with a different brief. Relaunch the newspaper. We’ve had 10 weeks of pretty depressing stuff and to work on such a positive story is truly refreshing.”
With the Last Dance, the story of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls career the sports hit of the lockdown, Fraser took inspiration from the star's legendarily pithy ‘I’m Back’ press release. Racing Post's tribute was shared on its owned channels.
Fraser said: “This was a cultural moment I had forgotten about but it chimed immediately – it just seemed a perfect way to invoke a famous comeback, newsjack something very current but also make people smile.”
With much of the conversation moving towards digital solutions and many magazines migrating online, the return to print seems to be a strong message right now. “The reaction shows there is life in it yet and that papers like the Racing Post still have a very relevant role to play," Fraser added.
While the Jordan imagery was an instant hit with the client, there were efforts to recreate iconic horse racing moments without crowds. But the idea felt a bit tired already.
“This has been done with other sports already. But the most important thing to emphasise here though is that this is just the start of the campaign.”
There are a few more executions in the coming weeks to highlight the Racing Post’s print return.