Advertiser Friendly p.6

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By: DEBRA GERSH HERNANDEZ

The Newspaper Association of America is launching a major initiative called Partners 2000 that is designed to improve the industry’s relationship with advertisers.
“We’ve been hearing for years ? and it’s more focused recently ? that one of the biggest complaints about newspapers by the advertising industry is that they are too difficult to do business with,” commented NAA president and CEO John F. Sturm.
To that end, Partners 2000 will begin with a focus on improving the product, the business process and production.
Advertisers involved with the project will be regional and local, as opposed to national.
The three-to-four-year project is led by a steering committee headed by Dick Gottlieb, president and CEO of Lee Enterprises.
As an association, it is NAA’s role, according to Sturm, to help the industry become more advertiser friendly. “We’re not talking about rates,” he said.
The NNN will not be directly involved in this project, as its goal is not to sell ads, but to improve the process.
The project, coordinated by Summit Media Partners of Denver, Colo., will begin after the first of the year at a couple of pilot newspapers and is to include input from their advertisers, using a “value chain analysis” to examine the efficiency of the ad process from beginning to end.
Although streamlining and efficiency are sometimes seen as euphemisms for cutbacks and layoffs, Sturm said that is “not the name of the game. This is about the process of improvement.”
The ultimate goal of the project is to create an “industrywide model of how to do it right,” Sturm explained, noting that while different papers have different needs, this will focus on the common factors.
In addition, production standards will be looked at, as well, perhaps aided by sending trainers to small and medium papers needing assistance.
A parallel project, launched by the technology committee, will see 40 experts examining the possibilities for consistent color in newspapers and setting standards for general color quality.
“We think this has an excellent chance of success,” Sturm said of Partners 2000. “The timing is right. The market is more competitive; there’s more advertising choices. There’s a greater need.”
Sturm said that the only risk is “some dues money” ? and NAA has the option to bail out of the project at several points.
The initial phase, which will be the most costly, is conservatively expected to cost about $750,000 over 12 to 18 months. As it is implemented, in the second phase, there will be some cost sharing with the industry, but that has yet to be determined.
“We spent considerable money on telecom [legislation]. That dwarfs this initiative. It’s not an insurmountable number for a $26 million association,” Sturm noted.
“Our goal is for newspapers of all sizes to adopt common business practices, procedures, common product standards, perhaps a common core rate-card structure, to make newspapers easier to be bought anywhere in the country,” Sturm commented. “We want to take out the complexity and difficulty of dealing with newspapers.”
Newspaper Association of America launches initiative to improve industry’s relationship with advertisers
?(“Our goal is for newspapers of all sizes to adopt common business practices, procedures, common product standards, perhaps a common core rate-card structure, to make newspapers easier to be bought anywhere in the country. We want to take out the complexity and difficulty of dealing with newspapers.”) [Caption]
?(? John Sturm, NAA president and CEO) [Photo]

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