Newspapers Find Success with ‘Star Wars’ Special Section

Star Wars Special Section
For two newspapers in California and Oregon, a “Star Wars” special section proved to be a great way to sell ads.

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” Well, maybe not that far away.

For two newspapers in California and Oregon, a “Star Wars” special section celebrating the release of the seventh installment in the franchise, “The Force Awakens,” proved to be a great way to sell ads, connect with readers and work with the community.

Created by Content That Works, a content marketing firm based in Chicago, the special section included stories about the cast and crew, past films, and reviews for its newspaper partners.

“Newspapers in general have gotten out of the business of covering celebrities and entertainment,” said Paul Camp, Content That Works CEO. “(But these special sections are) like having a staff member do in-depth coverage.”

Camp said inserts like this can bring in advertising dollars and increase single copy paper sales. And when Tricia Bergeron, general manager of South County Newspapers in King City, Calif., was presented with the “Star Wars” section she thought a lot of people would want to hold on to it.

For Bergeron, the section provided an opportunity to work with a theater a couple hours away in Monterey. King City is a small town and Bergeron said it’s common for residents to drive a distance to see a movie.

The theater in Monterey had previously advertised in the South County Newspapers, but when approached to advertise in the “Star Wars” section, they decided to sponsor the entire insert.

“When you approach a client at the end of the year it can be difficult to get them to advertise,” she said. “But when they see it in print boy do they want to part of it.”

A few hours north, The Siuslaw News in Florence, Ore. joined forces with its local community theater, which had just reopened a year ago after being closed, to generate buzz for the movie. When the paper reached out to the theater about advertising in the section, general manager Jenna Bartlett said they were excited about the partnership and sponsored the back page. After that, Bartlett said they had no trouble selling ads, which resulted in $1,500 for the newspaper.

When E&P spoke with Camp, he said 33 newspapers had signed up to use the “Star Wars” section. Bergeron said they had worked with Content That Works before and she plans to use them again.

Although movie sections provide great benefits, special sections don’t just have to be about major film releases. Inserts offer newspapers an opportunity to focus on a community’s needs, such as back to school guides and holiday guides, and partner with local businesses to better serve the community.

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