‘KC Star’ to Charge for Biz Announcements

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By: Jennifer Saba

Taking a cue from the wedding and obituary sections in many newspapers, The Kansas City (Mo.) Star now plans to charge for business personnel announcements, E&P has learned.

Starting March 9, businesses wanting to publicize new hires, promotions and other employee-related notices will have to pay $4.45 per line, including text and photos.

Until the change takes effect, personnel announcements continue to fall under the auspices of the newsroom and run on Tuesdays in a special tabloid business section called Star Business Weekly under the heading “Personals.” They typically take up three quarters of a page. Come March 9, they will run under a new heading called “Business Announcements” and will be labeled as paid advertising.

“I’m not aware if someone else is doing this,” said Arthur Brisbane, publisher of the Star (Click for QuikCap). “This idea came up through the ranks and it’s something we’re willing to try.”

The Star has been notifying readers of the change by running a notice in the business section. Classified sales reps have also contacted larger accounts about the new policy, Brisbane said.

This does not mean, however, that the Star newsroom will succumb to the business side, stressed Chris Lester, business editor: “The one thing I want to emphasize is that we are going to pick up newsworthy promotions.”

The new change will perhaps give businesses more of an opportunity to get the word out about employee changes, at a price. Lester noted that announcements tended to pile up and there was a level of frustration in keeping tabs on releases. Of course, there was no guarantee that the newsroom would ever run the announcement.

It remains to be seen if businesses will take up the Star on its new offer. One Kansas City public relations company is not happy about the new policy. “My clients are very upset and they’re saying they’re not going to pay for it,” said John Landsberg, principal of Bottom Line Communications. Landsberg sends about six or seven announcements to the paper a month on behalf of his clients. “It gives employees recognition and gives a little plug for the company. Most of them ran. I know they get a ton of them and it’s always a tough thing to keep up with.”

Brisbane said that he hasn’t experienced any wave of outrage. “But that doesn’t mean it will go over. It’s one of those things that will be proven over time. We’re going to have a wait-and-see attitude about it.”

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