Even as local newspapers digitally transform their business models, they must continue to provide their local communities with traditional services – and obituaries are one of the oldest and most often requested. During the March 3rd Editor & Publisher Reports Webinar, hosted by Mike Blinder, publisher of Editor & Publisher, two publishers shared their stories of how they were able to maximize their obituary revenue.
The two guest publishers were Bruce Potter, Publisher, InsideNoVA and CEO of Rappahannock Media, who oversees weekly newspapers, monthly lifestyle magazines and their associated websites, and Eric Johnston, President, Western Division, Adams Publishing Group. Adams is a family-owned media company with community publications throughout the United States.
Both Potter and Johnston explained how they increased obituary revenues and enhanced their local funeral home relationships through their turnkey partnership with Adpay Memoriams.
Gregory Hall, location manager for Georgia Memorial Park Funeral Home in Marietta, GA, also offered his perspective on the relationship with publishers, and how important it is for them to make the obituary process easy for directors and families. He reiterated what both Potter and Johnston said about the importance of obituaries. They are typically an important part of funeral homes’ services, and families ask funeral directors to help them place these notices in newspapers. Obituaries are also integral to any community’s history, especially small communities. Not only are they remembrances for families, but also the sources of genealogical information for descendants and others.
For both these publishers, this funeral home manager and thousands of others, the Adpay Memoriams program has been the key to making the process of obituary publishing easier for everyone, while also helping funeral homes and publications maximize their obituary revenue.
Deb Dreyfuss-Tuchman, executive vice-president of sales for Adpay, explained the Adpay Memoriams program is a no-cost solution for publishers and funeral homes, and now serves more than 3,300 newspapers, specialty and ethnic publications and even some TV stations who are eyeing this audience-driving space. It also delivered $9 million to incremental revenues to publishers outside of the local market in 2020. Memoriams keeps obituaries front and forward, and simple to place, for families and funeral directors.
Funeral homes easily upload text and photos locally through the digital system. Then, they have the option to select from a long list of media across the U.S. and Canada for additional placements in the same seamless order. Funeral directors create the obituary according to each media site’s layout and template specifications and can see a real-time preview of the obituary and a real-time price.
“The simplicity of the Adpay Memoriams program is what makes it so helpful for me and the families we serve,” said Hall. “I don’t have to research the names of the publications where the family wants the obituary to appear, contact them all and distribute the text and photos by various methods. The program is a one-stop convenience for families and a one-click process for me.”
According to Potter, the Memoriams program not only made the obituary publishing process easier, but also the opportunity to increase revenues prompted him to meet with each of the local funeral homes in Northern Virginia.
“Almost all of the funeral homes we contacted responded positively to Memoriams and many could see the benefits immediately and appreciated the option,” said Potter. “Deb and the people at Adpay are very supportive, providing materials to help us explain the program to funeral homes, and sending regular emails directly to funeral homes with important information.”
Johnston added, “Memoriams allows family members and friends who have moved from the local community to have access to local obituaries. We’re working with Adpay to place all the obituaries we receive behind a paywall, which will help bring revenues from outside the community from those living at a distance.”
Johnston also said he initially thought funeral homes would not like the program, but it helped to change the dynamic between Adams Publishing Group’s local publications and funeral homes.
Another beneficial element of the Memoriams program helps funeral homes generate maximum revenue from floral vendors. The program includes a link in each obituary to the local florist with whom the funeral home has a relationship. This helps maximize their revenues, rather than competing with them for those important dollars.
“Adpay’s relationships with funeral homes have been crucial to the evolution of the program,” said Dreyfuss-Tuchman. “That interaction has helped us develop various extensions and other online elements to support funeral directors and satisfy families’ expectations for the publishing of obituaries.”