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'Deal' shrinks format, increases circulation

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The Deal LLC this week rolls out a new look for its flagship newsweekly The Deal, switching from a tabloid to a magazine-size format.

The Deal is one of several publications, including The Wall Street Journal, that have shifted to a smaller trim size. The magazine also plans to boost its circulation to 50,000, from 42,000, by June.

Readership will also be expanded online through the introduction of an e-newsletter in conjunction with the redesign of the magazine. The twice-weekly product will promote the current issue's main features in a Monday e-mail blast and will highlight key columns in a Wednesday blast.

Combining pass-along from its print product, online readership and event attendance, The Deal LLC will soon reach about 200,000 professionals who work in the mergers and acquisitions field, or roughly 40% of the total industry universe of 500,000 executives, said Kevin Worth, the company's publisher-CEO.

"There's still a lot of headroom for circulation gains," Worth said. "You can't pick up any major press outlet these days without seeing stories on the growth of private equity and hedge funds."

Along with the change in size, the magazine has rearranged its content to make it easier for readers "to absorb information from week to week," he said. The front section starts with the "Dealmaker" department, which includes "Movers & Shakers" and "Deal Diary." The "Due Diligence" section and "Commentary" columns precede features and special reports, which will continue to run in the center of the magazine.

The Deal LLC has announced other enhancements to its portfolio, including the addition of seven conferences. These include The Deal's HealthCare Symposium (March 21), The Deal's Energy Symposium (May 15) and the Innovative Deal Financing Conference (Sept. 18). The company is also adding a fourth database, whose content Worth would not yet disclose. It will join existing data-bases Bankruptcy Insider, Auction Block and VCDeal.

Advertisers said the change in format should improve The Deal's appeal as a marketing vehicle.

"The larger publication definitely had an impact because of its scale. However, the larger format is probably a little cumbersome and not as portable, so people may not pass it along as readily," said Scott Poirier, managing director of NewStar Financial, a commercial finance bank that has advertised in The Deal for the last two years. "What it is giving up in impact it will make up for in shareability."

Kevin Windorf, director of marketing and client strategy for BMO Capital Markets, the investment banking arm of BMO Financial Group, said The Deal's size is beside the point.

"The bottom line is audience delivery, and we recognize that The Deal is reaching audiences in the C-suite, boards of directors, financial sponsors and intermediaries," he said, adding that BMO Capital Markets and its predecessor companies have been advertising in The Deal since 2002. "It's a nice, niche marketplace that in the last seven years has continued to grow and become more relevant to investment bankers and their clients."

The Deal attracts a pretty rich audience: 39% of its readers have individual incomes of $200,000 or more, while 17% have individual incomes of $500,000 or more, according to Mendelsohn Media Research.

Since its 2000 inception, The Deal LLC has followed an integrated sales model, with one salesperson selling across all media platforms. "We've never had silos in sales or edit, which puts us in a good position," Worth said. "We don't have to play catch-up" with other media companies that are just starting to integrate their sales forces.

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