NAA Opens Its Golden Gate at Morning Session, Gets Ad Pep Talk

By: Jennifer Saba Those trying to shake off last night's Parade-sponsored welcome party at SBC Park (which continued at the Fairmont Hotel's famous Tonga Room) got some help this morning. The 8 a.m. opening session at the Newspaper Association of America's annual convention in San Francisco began with a stirring -- and given the hour, somewhat jarring--rendition of "San Francisco." An actress from the city's campy and beloved musical revue "Beach Blanket Babylon" sang her heart out while wearing a gigantic hat of the skyline. It took up a good portion of the stage.

After that, outgoing NAA Chairman Gregg Jones addressed the audience with another, less entertaining eye opener. "We are under a sustained attack," he said about the newspaper industry's dwindling circulation and inability to attract young readers. "But we're not going away."

Though admitting the industry is strong, viable, and profitable today, Jones told the audience of publishers they have to "unlearn many of the truths," including the idea that newspapers automatically dominate local markets. "[Newspapers] must reflect the life experiences of the audience we are trying to attract."

"Let's get with it," he said, adding that many exciting things are taking shape, like free papers and growing Web sites.

Jones, who is co-publisher of The Greenville (Tenn.) Sun, also told his fellow publishers who operate in small markets that they are not immune to the problems the industry is facing, that it's not just the big metros with challenges. "More and more, we're playing the same game," he said.

From there, keynote speaker Greg Bogich, director of media marketing at Valassis Communications, gave a motivational pep talk addressing what the industry gets right

He cited several successful advertising campaigns that Valassis placed in newspapers on behalf of skeptical clients.

For example, TV-happy McDonalds needed to get the word out about its salad line. Valassis dropped a co-op insert in thousands of papers and a study found the combined media buy of TV and newspapers increased awareness 28% when compared to TV alone.

Furniture-maker Ikea turned to newspapers when its 1.1 pound catalogue was too expensive to mail. Valassis saved the company $1 million by poly-bagging the catalogue with newspapers. Where the paper didn't deliver, Valassis used direct mail to reach the remaining target. Eighty-seven percent of people recalled receiving the catalogue via newspapers, 19% higher than direct mail.

As the session came to a close, Bogich delivered some good news. Ikea's campaign proved so successful the company is thinking about doubling its spend with newspapers.


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