Samantha Bee Helps New Jersey Newspaper Attract New Subscribers

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(From left) Ziajah Nellom, Samantha Bee, Carlos Ramirez, Charlie Kratovil and Jennifer Goldberg pose for a photo during a break in filming inside the New Brunswick Today’s office. (Photo provided)

There really is no such thing as a typical day for Charlie Kratovil.

As editor and the only full-time staff member of New Brunswick Today, a small monthly newspaper in New Jersey, his irregular schedule tends to leave him with a new surprise each day.

However, one phone call he didn’t expect to receive came last December from a producer of “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” inquiring about the possibility of having the paper featured on an episode of the show.

The premise of the segment, which aired in March, revolved around increasing the number of subscriptions for the paper by entering new subscribers into a lottery to win $500. As a result of the promotional campaign that put the concept of gamification to use, the paper was able to increase its subscription base by 400 percent.

“Like an angel, Samantha Bee came to us and gave us a clever, creative way to get people excited about supporting our work,” Kratovil said. “It was a huge success.”

According to Kratovil, New Brunswick Today had “much less than 100” subscribers prior to filming of the episode in January. A subscription to the paper is priced at $5 per month.

At the time producers of the show first made contact with Kratovil, he and his team of freelancers had actually just begun their own membership campaign to get people to sign up for a monthly donation.

“We had some minor success with that but obviously got a big boost when the segment aired in not only subscribers but also folks just looking to give,” Kratovil said. “It’s really cool to have this unique new way to draw people to our paper. I think we’ll give it another shot in the future.”

Filming took place over the course of one day, with the paper’s downtown New Brunswick office serving as the home base for the production crew of nearly two dozen people.

“I’m used to doing very low budget kind of interviews and this was the complete opposite of that,” Kratovil said. “I wasn’t quite sure how the whole segment would end up looking like but they ultimately did a professional job. It was just a great experience across the board.”

Founded in 2011, the paper originally began as a small website before expanding its online presence and launching a monthly print edition distributed throughout the city of New Brunswick. A large portion of contributing writers come from nearby Rutgers University and Middlesex County College.

“Witnessing the filming process was unlike anything I have ever encountered,” said contributing writer Jennifer Goldberg, a senior at Rutgers University. “I never thought about what kind of crew it would take to produce a show like this but watching it come together makes you appreciate all the hard work that went into the planning, organization and execution.”

Editor’s Note: Kratovil posted on May 15 that the segment helped raise more than $20,000 for the newspaper.

 

Published: June 9, 2017

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