By: Stacy jones
SINCE NEWSPAPERS, AS businesses, survive by making money, it was appropriate that the first session at this year’s Newspaper Association of America convention in Chicago dealt with revenue, cost containment and new products.
Led by newspaper consultant Dave Tipton,
the “Big Ideas for Smaller-Market Newspapers”
session showed that small doesn’t have to mean dull or unprofitable. In fact, many of the advertising ideas presented generated over $5,000, which, said Tipton, amounts to “a nice chunk of change.”
“There’s a lot of dollars out there,” he said. “The number of zeros will surprise you.”
Some of the more successful projects involved directories.
Maine Phone Book
For example, Central Maine Newspapers, publishers of the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and Kennebec Journal in Augusta, launched the Easy-to-Read Telephone Directory in 1996. The papers have a combined circulation of 39,000.
The project aimed to increase market share in the two communities served by the papers and to bring the communities closer together.
The book features large type and listings for the entire region. Such features, said Jim Shaffer of Guy Gannett Communications, owner of Central Maine Newspapers, helped the directory “become the preferred phone book in households.”
The result: a 1,000-page telephone directory, including 200 pages of yellow page ads, 70,000 books distributed and $400,000 in new revenue.
Michigan Family Ties
In Midland, Mich., the Midland Daily News, circulation 17,500, used residents’ small-town spirit to its advantage.
Using data from the local genealogical society, the editorial and advertising departments created a section tying family histories to businesses and individuals who had celebrations or anniversaries, or were just strong, multi-generational Midland families.
The project not only raised $6,500 in revenues, but had a more lasting affect.The section is now used as a reference guide by local families and the historical society.
Single Sheets Sell
Single-sheet inserts generated revenues of $43,000 in six months for the Grand Forks Herald, circulation 38,000.
The North Dakota paper’s concept, implemented last year, was to provide low-cost, high-impact advertising for small advertisers. It offered advertisers an 81/2-by-11-inch circular with the ability to zone as low as 5,000.
The keys to success: good reproduction quality and
a quick turnaround. Herald advertisers could order
the insert and see it in the newspaper in less than a week.
The project gave small, non-traditional advertisers a low-cost way to get big exposure in the newspaper. The Herald anticipates $100,000 in revenue this year.
Newspapers are limited only by their creativity ? or lack of it ? says Tipton, who advises, “Take advantage of what you’ve got in your own marketplace.”
Others at the session urged newspapers to shake free of traditional money-making methods. While such enterprises may not help the core business, said Buck Sherman of Newport, R.I., the money they generate “helps when times get tough.”
Regarding the Internet, small and large papers have a lot in common. Both struggle to wrestle profits from the Internet’s World Wide Web.
While the majority of the more than 100 people in attendance worked at papers with their own Web sites, fewer than a handful could boast of profits.
“We’ve had very little success at revenue,” said a publisher from Illinois.
Promising cyberspace revenue ideas for the future included: becoming Web page builders by helping advertisers and other businesses construct their own sites; charging fees for links between newspaper and advertiser sites; offering real estate classifieds; developing in-depth advertising that goes further than the standard banner ads now dominating newspaper Web sites.
?Web Site: http://www.mediainfo.com.
?copyright: Editor & Publisher, May 3, 1997.