“Well, you asked for it….
Here’s a starter to that rant:
Why not utilize new ideas (i.e. these unique ad shapes and designs) and new forms of technology to increase the profitability of your newspaper?
Newspapers are OBVIOUSLY not making a whole lotta cash right now. This I know for a fact because I’ve taken a 12% hit to my own pocketbook along with everyone else at my small local newspaper more than 18 months ago and see no return of that in the near or foreseeable future.
Now ask yourself, “Why?” Why are newspapers not making the profits they once were?
My simplified answer: Advertising and readership.
Advertising has found a new vehicle to spend money on—and I hate to tell you this but it’s not in print. It’s in the new-fangled thing called modern technology: smart phones, internet, twitter, blogs, etc…all that “free” stuff you might think is silly. Well, I can tell you: The millions and millions of people who use all that free stuff? They like it. They use it. They pay attention to the advertising on it, heck they pay for it, too—because it is presented to them in an easy-to-use-and-digest fashion that fits their on-the-go lifestyle.
How many newspapers advertise themselves in an alternate medium? How many provide their advertisers a way to get their message out other than on their own personal websites and in print? Can we not create a web ad for our clients and have them pay to place it on several other sites, too? Do we not have the staff or the motivation to provide good marketing to our clients? No? Well, our clients think that we should be able to do that—because we are in the business of advertising. If we cannot provide these services to our clients, they will take their dollar to someone who can. Maybe a local marketing agency that CAN put their message on blogs, social sites, mobile phones, free news sites. etc…and that dilutes their dollars to spend with us, small community newspapers.
In short, support new advertising ideas because they are working. Advertising clients like it. They PAY for it.
It’s time to think outside the box—or, in this case, the page.”
Ed says: My follow-up to Lauri’s “rant” came the moment I saw it. 01.04.11: “Hooray for you! And…here comes the shocker for many editors out there…I agree fully. More to come…Ed”
MORE FROM ED
I have worked at and for newspapers for 44 years. During that time, I have seen newspapers travel a long road. From the days of Linotypes and cast, nickeled press plates, we are now on the internet, on the iPhone and outsourcing ad design…and even some reporting.
And during that time, I have grown from a newsroom purist to a consultant who sees the much bigger picture and is delighted by the understanding that newspapers will continue to thrive for many years to come. Perhaps we will eventually leave print behind us and become totally digital. Perhaps we will find our eventual niche in the internet cloud. And perhaps print design will eventually go the way of the Linotype and the Compugraphic.
Nevertheless, one truth remains: Advertising will continue to pay the bills. Without advertising, we would be unable to support the newsroom. We would not be able to buy the computers, the cameras and the software and the very desks at which we work. Certainly, the money to pay for all that doesn’t come from the newsroom.
Here’s a quote worth reading, from Lachlan Murdoch, the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch: “The industry is littered with self-styled purists who believe the business of media…the requirement to make a profit…somehow corrupts the craft.” Now, you are entitled to your own opinion about old man Murdoch and his media outlets, but there’s no arguing with the financial success of his empire.
Here’s another quote, from a guy I know pretty well: “If you’re in the newspaper business only to make money…you’re in the wrong business.” That’s a quote from newspaper consultant Ed Henninger. Like I said, a guy I know pretty well. What I meant when I said it some years ago—and what I mean now—is that newspapers need to be driven by more than just profits. We have a responsibility to inform readers and to bring meaning to their lives. We have a responsibility to be a watchdog for the community. We have a responsibility to be fair…and accurate…and balanced…in our reporting and presentation of the news. And…we have a responsibility to offer our advertisers a medium that helps them to deliver their message to readers.
Let’s remember that the advertiser wants us to succeed. He’s the guy who puts his money where his mouth is—every ad he buys is an affirmation that he believes in us, that he sees the value of being a part of our product. He wants us to succeed because every ad he buys is an investment: in his business, in our newspaper and in the future of both.
So, if an advertiser comes to us with a new idea—a new way of presenting his message—wouldn’t it be foolish for us to reject that idea without giving it due consideration? And wouldn’t we want to work with him to help him present his idea—at a premium rate?
I do not believe that publishers and advertising directors are Faustian. They do not lie awake at night searching for new ways to sell their souls for another buck. Instead, I believe that they are genuinely interested in the well-being of their newspaper and they are open-minded enough to search for—and respond to—new ways of contributing to that well-being.
So, when I see a new approach to advertising, I am not so ready to man the barricades and cry “Never! Not now! Not here! Not ever!”
Instead, I’m more inclined to want to study the concept, to walk around it as I would an intriguing sculpture, to eye it from different angles in different lights…and to look for the good in its form.
I believe in advertising. I believe in advertisers. I believe in newspapers. I believe that they are inextricably bound up in each other.
For the good of each other…for the good of the reader…and for the good of the community.