Editorial: Buzzwords Mean Business
Posted: 2/29/2012 | By: Jeff Fleming
“Who can retire at 50, receive annuities exceeding $100,000 a year, and collect a pension while staying on the same job? Find out in next week’s Arizona Republic.”
“Which city officials secretly enriched themselves with extravagant salaries and benefits while illegally raising your taxes? Read all about it in Thursday’s L.A. Times.”
“What our investigative reporter didn’t find in the Fort Knox vault will shock you. Buy Tuesday’s Courier-Journal and get the facts.”
The time, energy, and resources that go into a compelling investigative story are many — and the cost, high. Most of the deep thinking and financial support are spent on the front end of the story, the editorial side — not on the back end, the business side. The traditional operandi of releasing the story is to immediately run it after the copy editor dots the last “i.” Meanwhile, reporters, editors, and publishers anxiously stand by, waiting for muck to hit the fan — followed by the stinky smell of success signaling a job well done.
But what most newspapers are missing is the opportunity to cash in on their investigative stories and harness social media’s infectious power to disseminate information. If there is one thing social media is good for, it’s spreading information on a global scale at speeds faster than light. Newspapers should employ social media as a revved-up marketing engine, which stands ready 24/7 with broadcasting power to reach millions in a matter of seconds.
Two or three days prior to the release of an investigative story, newspapers could Tweet themselves into social media heaven and promote their upcoming story with riveting headlines — arousing curiosity, stimulating readers’ adrenaline glands with punchy and persuasive headlines, piquing the interest of even the “Jersey Shore” cast. The more interesting the teaser, the more potential for increased page views and single-copy sales.
With each investigative story comes the opportunity for newspapers to earn more revenue by selling more subscriptions, single copies, and views of the online edition. Sales departments could develop special ad buys such as an “exclusive report” display ad offering advertisers the benefits of increased circulation.
Newspapers would do well to develop a marketing initiative that fully utilizes today’s social media and emphasizes “revenue first” — proactive programs designed to convert the golden words of a reporter into a revenue crown jewel.
TV, radio, and magazines have used news teasers for decades; it’s time newspapers enjoy the good buzz of increased profits and aggressively market their hard-earned enterprising features — and hopefully strengthen the ability to offer more of what they do best, investigate.