One Ad Category Ready to Boom: Political Messages

By: E&P Staff

Advertising revenue for newspapers may be plunging, but the outlook may brighten in at least one area in coming months as the 2008 political campaigns.

At least that’s what the Wall Street Journal’s Kevin Helliker suggests today in a major B1 piece. It opens with Seattle Democratic political consultant Cathy Allen promising to make “heavy use of an old-fashioned advertising vehicle: newspapers.”

Then she utters these heart-warming words: “Newspapers are back.”

Helliker reveals that, indeed, amid the general ad slump, “the political message is making a comeback. As overall spending on campaigns doubled to $3.1 billion between 2002 and 2006, the amount spent on newspapers, including their online editions, tripled to $104 million, according to PQ Media. The rate of growth appears to be highest in races for local posts, such as mayor and state legislator, because newspapers boast greater penetration and influence in small- to medium-size markets.”

He adds that “a growing number of political consultants say newspapers can offer distinct advantages over television and other media. ‘Recognition is growing that newspapers are highly effective and highly cost-effective,’ says Jordan Lieberman, publisher of Campaigns & Elections magazine, which conducts seminars for candidates, consultants and other political professionals.

“Newspaper readers vote at above-average rates. Even amid circulation declines, newspapers in many markets reach an audience that is competitive with any single broadcast channel, a strength that online editions are bolstering. Online editions also are reaching a demographic group that their print editions have been losing — the young reader.” And you can make a more “sophisticated” pitch.

Helliker concludes: “The nation’s fourth-largest newspaper chain, Lee Enterprises Inc. of Davenport, Iowa, has appointed a corporate sales executive to drum up political advertising at Lee’s 50-some papers in mostly small- to medium-size markets. Among other strategies, the executive, Joanna Smith, is holding forums for candidates on how to use newspapers to their advantage. Lee already boasts some powerful testimonials. South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, a Republican, used newspapers in 2002 to upset tremendously better-financed rivals, and again in his successful 2006 re-election campaign.”

The full article is at http://online.wsj.com.

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