As the voice of their communities, newspapers have always been strong supporters of local businesses, and the Saluting Best Workplaces program is helping them to strengthen those bonds. As partners in the program with DataJoe, LNP Media Group, Lancaster, PA, and The Colorado Springs Gazette, Colorado Springs, CO, are forging closer relationships with local businesses while also expanding their revenue-generating opportunities.The success of the Saluting Best Workplaces program for these two community newspapers was the topic of the discussion during an Editor & Publisher Webinar (August 4, 2021), hosted by Mike Blinder, CEO of Editor & Publisher
Chris Tumbaga, director of business development at DataJoe, explained the Saluting Best Workplaces program creates a new channel for community newspapers to engage with local businesses, provides their HR department/manager with free data from employee surveys and generates new revenues for the publications.
A 50% profit margin with $50,000 in ad sales during just the first year of the program has convinced Sally Reynolds, digital marketing operations manager at LNP Media Group, the paper made the right decision to promote the program in the Lancaster community.
“Initially, what I appreciated so much about DataJoe is Chris and his team welcomed our participation when similar companies said we were too small,” said Reynolds. “The greatest value for our paper is we’re able to engage with local businesses that are not regular advertisers. We’re able to attract program sponsors and businesses that want direct exposure to the companies participating in the program and each other to market their businesses services.”
During LNP Media Group’s first year with the program, only the recruitment sales team pitched the program, but all sales teams will be eventually selling the program. HR departments/managers were more receptive to participating once they understood there was no cost to them. HR managers are typically eager to gain new data, especially from their employees via an anonymous survey. Not only can they identify the positive qualities of the workplace, but also discover any problems and address them.
“Our recruitment sales team also emphasizes the value of being saluted as a Best Workplace, which HR managers quickly understand is a powerful recruitment tool,” said Reynolds. “The culmination of our first year in the program was a breakfast event to salute those Best Workplaces. The 100 tickets purchased by our guests were another revenue stream.”
Karen Hogan, director of advertising operations at The Colorado Springs Gazette, said the paper has been a Saluting Best Workplaces partner for five years. She said the program is generating revenues for the paper in the six-figure range. She agreed with Reynolds the key to promoting the program successfully is emphasizing to HR managers the opportunity to be nominated and recognized. Once a company is nominated, the paper’s salespeople can return to the company, share the good news and then pitch participation as a paid sponsor and advertiser.
“Our paper promotes the program through every channel at our disposal, including ads, Websites and e-mail blasts,” said Hogan. “We also partner with the Chamber of Commerce and various HR associations, which promote the program separately. Another method that has worked very well is sending a letter through the mail from the paper’s publisher to local business owners and CEOs. It’s a gesture that has opened many doors for our sales team.”
Both Reynolds and Hogan agree newspapers are more likely to succeed with the Saluting Best Workplaces program by starting slowly. Obtaining salespeople’s buy-in and training them is the biggest challenge initially. Reynolds emphasized the importance of a single point person at the paper managing the program and Hogan said she has the paper’s sales reps take the survey to help familiarize themselves with the program.
Tumbaga explained DataJoe works closely with publication partners to customize the program for their communities as well as developing surveys reflecting the special qualities of local businesses.
“Since diversity and inclusiveness have become major issues for HR managers and their companies, we’re able to add those questions to employee surveys. We can also include questions about working from home, how their employer has responded with health and safety protocols during the pandemic or any other topics pertinent to a participating company,” said Tumbaga.
DataJoe creates and deploys a survey link, so employees can participate anonymously online. It processes the data and provides newspapers with summary reports, which their salespeople can present to HR managers at the participating companies.
Reynolds and Hogan said the Saluting Best Workplaces program has proven to be a significant revenue generator, but also highlights their papers’ value to the entire community and especially local businesses.