By: Mark Fitzgerald
THE WAY SUN Newspapers publisher Steve Rose figures it, if the same thing had happened to Ford, the automaker would have recalled its automobiles.
So when a sudden and unpredicted downpour soaked nearly all his free-distribution papers as they lay on porches and lawns in the early morning of Wednesday June 28, Rose ordered a recall ? and reprinted the entire press run of 100,000 newspapers.
Readers received a new ? and dry ? Wednesday paper with their regularly scheduled Friday paper.
Overland Park, Kansas-based Sun Newspapers has a policy of bagging all papers if there is a 20% or better possibility of rain.
But as Sun carriers began their delivery late at night Tuesday, none of the three television and radio forecasters the newspaper relied on was predicting even the remotest chance of rain, Rose said.
“At about 5:30 in the morning, I bolted upright in my bed when I heard a thunderclap. And about 45 minutes later, it was raining so hard it was gushing,” Rose recalled in an interview from his office.
The vast majority of papers had been delivered?and ruined.
“Rather than wait for the majority of our advertisers and readers to get p.o.-ed at us, we decided, look, this is a new age of customer service in the newspaper industry,” Rose said.
“If this were an auto dealer,” he continued, “they would recall the car. If this were Johnson and Johnson, they would recall the product. So if we can’t recall the paper, the least we can do is another press run.”
Before a single complaint could come in, Sun employees alerted advertisers that a new pressrun would be delivered Friday. Customer service representatives assured readers that a dry paper would be on its way.
Advertiser and reader reaction has been extremely favorable, Rose said.
But the people probably most surprised by the action were some visiting sales representatives from Sun Newspapers’ main newsprint supplier ? Abitibi-Price.
“They had never heard of anybody doing this, especially with the price of newsprint the way it is,” Rose said.
Rose explained his action in a front page column in June 30 editions, which, incidentally, went out bags ? even though the weatherman was again predicted a dry night.