Posted in Newspaper on June 18, 2012 |
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Jim Waterbury, a long-time friend and media guru, sent me news about the demise of daily newspapers in Louisiana and Alabama. I learned of this news not from a newspaper, but from an electronic source—how appropriate.
Why are newspapers fading? They are not listening to their customers. The terminal diagnosis is not because of the Internet, but because you don’t hear newspapers saying that they will deliver the kind of news local people really want to read.
If I ran a newspaper, here is what I would do today:
- Drop national news. I get that on Twitter and Yahoo!
- Never run a story from outside the area. I’d rather run the worst local press release than a story from two states away. Local leads.
- More photos. I’d cut ALL story copy in half.
- More photos of regular people on the street.
- No story jumps. If you can’t read it on the page it starts, cut it down.
- Drop stocks or numbers of any kind—unless it is in a cool infographic. That is stuff perfect for the Internet; get it out of the newspaper.
- No syndicated material. Drop Ann Landers, Hints from Heloise and opinion-page columnists. Go get the local citizen journalists and fill a paper.
- Work deals for exclusive coverage and trademark it so it can’t be shared except by you.
- I wouldn’t put my local news online. I know that sounds counter to all I’ve said, but it doesn’t pay. Make it so people must subscribe and read your paper to get local news. Then sell the heck out of it.
- Use more graphics to demonstrate ideas.
As Mr. Waterbury says, “Local media thrives when it is truly local.” If newspapers are to survive, they must look at subscribers as customers. The lack of listening is killing newspapers, not the Internet.
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Marion, Iowa-based Frank N. Magid Associates, reports that newspapers still deliver consumers like no other medium. The study found that 8 of 10 adults acted on a newspaper preprint advertising in the last 30 days.
Advertising on newspaper websites ranked just behind email for store or product information for electronic options.
So should we immediately shift all our money from other media to newspapers? Stop the email newsletter? Stop sending coupons via email?
This research (which maybe commissioned by the newspaper association) is just a good reminder that you can’t forget traditional media when creating your media mix. Even if newspapers have lost 10% of circulation from the highs a few years ago, it still is a powerful medium that obviously leads many to products and services.
Any plan that includes only one medium is doomed to inefficiencies and low reach. And if your selection doesn’t include some
newspaper, it may not be delivered home.
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Posted in Newspaper on April 14, 2011 |
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Newspapers are not dying—well, maybe the paper part is dying. 105.3 million people per month visited a newspaper website during the fourth quarter of 2010, according to comScore data cited by the Newspaper Association of America. That’s a big number. And, if you think about all that free news you’re reading each day, it is most likely that it came from a newspaper reporter.
The problem for newspapers (and everyone else who owns a business) is how do you make things “pay” online? What is really hurting newspapers is the death of the classified advertising. There are so many sources to sell your car (from autotrader.com to craigslist.org) for little or nothing. Newspapers were too slow to convert classified advertising to a web environment.
What things are part of your business that need web conversion? The airline industry and travel agency industry allowed the Internet to create portals for airline sales. Now, the airline industry is taking back the market. Southwest and Allegiant Air are a few of the airlines where you can only buy their tickets on their websites. American Airlines and others will soon follow with special offers and deals you can only find on branded websites.
If you are being killed by the Internet, don’t die, look to develop your own success in the new environment. The progressive blacksmiths worked on horses and cars.
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