The Battle Over Broward County p. 26

By: STACY JONES IT'S NOT obvious, but there's a war in Florida.
The combatants? The stalwart Miami Herald and industry hotshot Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.
The battle site? Southern Broward County, increasingly a haven for Miami residents looking to get out of the city.
Situated between Miami's Dade County and Boca Raton's Palm Beach County, Broward County is the battleground for an intensifying market war that Florida newspaper executives insist will have the winner turning profits into the next century, and the loser consigned to the left-overs.
""We've been fighting over that territory for the last few years,"" said Herald President Joseph Natoli. ""Our future is tied to being a success in Broward.""
Since many of the new residents of Broward County came from Dade County, the Herald considers them their readers and believes they will be loyal. The Sun-Sentinel feels the transplants want their own identity, separate from Miami, and will embrace the offerings of the Fort Lauderdale-based Sun-Sentinel.
At the moment, it's hard to say who has the upper hand. In the north Broward and south Palm Beach area, the Sun-Sentinel has a commanding presence, while in south Broward, just over the Dade County line, the Herald is holding its own.
According to an Audit Bureau of Circulations county penetration report, the Sun-Sentinel has 33.3% of the daily and 48% of Sunday coverage in Broward County. The Herald stands at 16.4% for daily coverage and 20% for Sunday.
In Dade County, the Sun-Sentinel's county penetration numbers are almost nonexistent. It has just .3% of daily and .4% of Sunday coverage ? about 2,200 sold daily and 2,800 sold on Sundays ? while the Herald's penetration stands at 34.6% for daily and 45.7% for Sunday coverage.
When the circulation figures are concentrated on south Broward County, the intensity of the competition is more evident. According to a 1996 ABC audit report and additional research, daily circulation for the Herald is 66,982, the Sun-Sentinel, about 48,000. Sunday numbers have the Herald at 85,896 and the Sun-Sentinel at about 71,000.
Because the two papers have different ideas on which cities make up south Broward County (the Herald has a more extensive list), calculations were done using only the cities both agree on.
The move into Broward is not the first time the Herald has tried to expand into another paper's territory. The last attempt, in the early 1980s, sought to gain ground in Palm Beach County. Despite a seven-day-a-week local section and staff dedicated only to Palm Beach County, the push failed. The Herald withdrew gradually in the early 1990s.
""Over time we found it was difficult to compete effectively when you're far from your home operation,"" said Natoli. ""It's really difficult to be successful in other home markets.""
And how are the Herald and Sun-Sentinel planning for success in southern Broward County?
In keeping with its reputation for marketing know-how and moneymaking skills, Sun-Sentinel executives have derived a number of methods for taking control of Broward, and unlike the Herald's top guns, they aren't guarding their plans as if they were top-secret government documents.
Said the Herald's Natoli, ""For competitive reasons, I can't discuss current plans, but it's fair to say that in the last year we've revamped local news sections, launched cable-specific TV books and improved our saturation advertising program by putting it in the mail in Broward County. We're promoting our papers more in both Dade and Broward counties.""
The bottom line for the Sun-Sentinel is it doesn't care what the Herald is doing.
""We're not going to gear our approach to what someone else is doing,"" said Earl Maucker, Sun-Sentinel editor and vice president. ""If there's others competing for [Broward] readers, that's their problem.""

The History
The Sun-Sentinel hit its stride in the 1980s and early 1990s with a population boom, innovative marketing strategies and a cash-rich parent, the Chicago-based Tribune Co.
In 1991, Sun-Sentinel publisher Scott Smith, (then with the Tribune Co. in Chicago, who'll soon return there) convinced the company to invest $6 million in a new computer service. The computer service was America Online and the initial investment in that business is worth upward of $200 million today.
Another plus was the Tribune Co.'s decision in the early 1980s to merge the staffs of the Fort Lauderdale News, an afternoon paper, and its morning sibling, the Sun-Sentinel. In 1991, the News was phased out.
The merger of the two staffs was, according to Maucker, ""when the Sun-Sentinel began to emerge.""
In the span of a decade, 1985 to 1995, the Sun-Sentinel's circulation grew about 33%. Sunday circulation jumped from 252,600 to 368,130, while daily circulation reached 266,000 from 199,000.
Integral to the paper's rebirth in the early 1990s was marketing ? and it will be the key to any future gains.
""You have to be an effective sales organization. You have to give people the opportunity to read the paper,"" said Jim Smith, the Sun-Sentinel's vice president of marketing.
The difference in going forward, said Sun-Sentinel publisher Scott Smith, is ""the complementary information business will play a bigger role.""
With that sentiment, Smith explained the paper's three strategies for growth: targeted publications, electronic media and direct marketing.
""We want to be the most valued source of information,"" said Smith. ""And the best method is a multi-pronged approach.""
Not content to grow only in its own backyard of Broward County, the Sun-Sentinel has used creative distribution methods to encroach on the Palm Beach Post's territory in Palm Beach County.

Palm Beach County
About a year ago, the Sun-Sentinel began distributing the New York Times to retail outlets and home subscribers in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Besides making money for the act of delivering the Times, the setup was the perfect segue for moving the Sun-Sentinel into those areas.
By using the existing routes ? saving on the cost of creating their own ? and delivery trucks that had to be in those areas anyway, the Sun-Sentinel found a way to expand into a competitor's territory at very little cost. Home delivery of the Sun-Sentinel in Palm Beach County began in October 1996.
Scott Smith said when the paper agreed to deliver the Times, it was always part of the plan to use the deal as a stepping stone into its competitor's market share.
Sun-Sentinel home delivery has also been available to residents in Dade County since October 1996. With this method Smith hopes to make inroads ""on both the North and South areas [of Broward County] where we compete head to head.""
While the strategy has been successful, Smith is realistic about how much can be gained.
""We're not expecting loyal Herald or Post readers to leave and drop them in droves,"" said Smith. What is expected is ""modest circulation growth.""
The challenge, he said, ""is to be the paper of choice door-to-door.""
The Herald adopted a similar plan even earlier, partnering with the Post in October 1995. That's when the Post began home delivery of the Herald in Palm Beach County.
Of the two papers' tiptoe into Palm Beach County, the Sun-Sentinel is taken more seriously by Tom Giuffrida, publisher of the Palm Beach Post.
""The Herald is less of a factor,"" he said. ""They're focused more on Dade and Broward County.""
The Sun-Sentinel is another matter.
They ""will continue to try and dominate,"" said Giuffrida.
Yet he was unsure if they would succeed. ""Not if we do our job right . . . or perhaps, if they put enough money behind it.""
The Herald has also realized the importance of marketing in its newspaper operation, and the need to change the way it does business. ""Years ago,"" said Natoli, ""We were ad takers, less competitive for ad dollars.""
Now the Herald is a ""far better marketing partner than we have been in the past,"" he said.
Competition Online
Another outlet that has both papers furiously developing products to market is the Internet. Its vastness and newness has executives seeing dollar signs, though they don't expect a windfall to be quick or easy.
The Herald and the Sun-Sentinel, along with the majority of American newspapers, are trying to crack the conundrum of how to incorporate advertising (profits) into a medium they have yet to reign in.
""If advertisers don't want to play in that media, the prospects are slim,"" said the Sun-Sentinel's Smith, who despite the present uncertainties expects electronic publishing to become profitable in three to five years.
Smith saw the ""clearest potential in taking classified advertising online"" and a ""reasonable potential with retail.""
Both papers have established Web sites, with the Herald putting its Spanish-language daily, El Nuevo Herald, online, as well.
Sun-Sentinel editor Maucker has embraced the online offerings, saying, ""It doesn't matter to me how we attract readers. Pick your platform.""
The goal, he said, is to ""whet [readers'] appetites online. It may steer them to pick up the newspaper.""
While embracing the possibilities of new media, the Herald and Sun-Sentinel haven't forgotten an old competitor: television.
Unlike the past, when newspapers routinely slammed the shallow, photo-op quality of television news, today's news executive is more likely to tout its assets, and go into partnership with local stations and cable companies.
The Herald formed such a union with an NBC affiliate in January 1996. During each local newscast, a spot is saved for the Herald. Shooting from inside the paper's newsroom, a film critic, columnist or reporter promotes topics or stories that will be covered in the next day's paper.
The Sun-Sentinel has formed such unions with Florida stations, a process which Smith describes as ""cross-promotion.""
""It buys access to the broadcast audience,"" said the Sun-Sentinel's Jim Smith. It allows the paper ""to meet our objective to reach people that aren't newspaper readers.""
""There's a lot of enthusiasm from both sides,"" offered Herald president Natoli. ""There is more than one TV station who wants to do this.
""People are liking the opportunity,"" he said.

Who Will Dominate?
The market maneuverings and product machinations of the Herald and the Sun-Sentinel are cutting edge, but will it propel either to dominate the region?
Probably not.
Success, or failure, as always depends on the quality of the core product ? the home-delivered, rack-bought or newsstand-purchased newspaper.
Success, said the Post's Giuffrida, ""all depends on how you cover the news and where you cover it.""
You won't get much disagreement from the competing papers on that statement.
The discourse comes when you ask who does it best.
""I feel that we are the local paper of record,"" said Sun-Sentinel editor Maucker. ""No one covers the local area like we do.""
The Sun-Sentinel is ""in the Top 10, clearly, of well-edited papers,"" said publisher Scott Smith. ""We not only compete, but excel.""
However, he admits, ""there was a time when we probably weren't up to the Herald.""
Giuffrida of the Post offered mild praise for the Sun-Sentinel.
""It may be getting harder on the news side,"" he said.
""In the past, the Post and Herald have had a harder news edge.""
True to form, the Herald's Natoli let his paper's record ? rather than him ? speak for itself.
Concerning the future, both papers seemed prepared for some metaphoric jousting. Mostly, they were of the opinion that their destiny was affected only by themselves.
""No one's going to hand us this future. No one will cede anything to us just because we're good guys,"" said the Sun-Sentinel's Smith.
The Herald has also embraced internal change.
""I don't think we can be successful by being a traditional newspaper,"" explained Natoli. ""We have to be an entrepreneur.""
Giuffrida was more philosophical, maybe because the Post is removed from the center of battle. Still his words on the market scramble rang true for all involved.
""They're always going to be here,"" Giuffrida said. ""They make us better and we make them better.""

?(The Battleground Situated between Miami's Dade County and Boca Raton's Palm Beach County, Broward County is the
battleground for an intensifying market war that Florida newspaper executives insist will have the winner
turning profits into the next century, and the loser
consigned to the leftovers.) [Photo & Caption]

?(""We want to be the most valued source of information. And the best method is a multi-pronged approach."") [Caption]

?(? Scott Smith, publisher, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel) [Photo & Caption]

?(""We're not going to gear our approach to what someone else is doing. If there's others competing for [Broward] readers, that's their problem."") [Caption]

?(-Earl Maucker, editor and vice president, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel) [Photo & Caption]

?(""We've been fighting over that territory for the last few years. Our future is tied to being a success in Broward."") [Caption]

?(? Joseph Natoli, president, Miami Herald) [Photo & Caption]

?(Circulation Penetration Entire Broward County
Sun-Sentinel 33%, Herald 16%,
Sun-Sentinel 48%, Herald 20%) [Caption]

?(Circulation Figures For
South Broward County*

Miami Herald66,98285,896
Fort Lauderdale

* Calculations were done using only the cities both newspapers agree make
up South Broward County) [Caption]
? Web Site:http://www.
?copyright Editor & Publisher- April 26, 1997.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here