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« Why we moved from a Facebook Group to a Fan Page | Main | The increasing importance of freelance journalists to media relations efforts »

February 26, 2009

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Daniel Durazo

Interesting post and very timely. I was having coffee this morning with Tim Loughran, GM of Centro de Richmond (an RTD publication) and this was the exact topic of conversation.

I have a journalism degree so I have a soft spot for newspapers, but I've spent the last 15 years working for ad agency holding companies and I can tell you that old line media companies are moving too slowly to take advantage of new technology and are ultimately leaving a lot of potential advertising money on the table.

A case in point is the move to mobile marketing. The interest in using cell phones as mobile marketing devices is exploding and there is a race to see who will profit from introducing clients to mobile marketing. Ad agencies, PR agencies and mobile agencies are quickly buidling capabilities in mobile marketing as clients demand this very useful technology.

Newspapers are in the best position to take advantage of mobile marketing because of their existing relationships with advertisers and their control over a very powerful "drive to mobile" medium. But because they don't see the opportunity or have failed to put forth the necessary resources to be successful, they are leaving much needed revenue on the table and are passing the opportunity on to others who are more nimble.

Mobile is a tremendous opportunity for newspapers and they need to move forward now while they still can.

R. Anthony Harris

Hearst came out with a new e-reader.

As a publisher, imagine not having to pay daily production costs. Include a one time fee for getting this e-reader along with your yearly subscription.

As a customer, imagine having the days newspaper ready everyday. Have you tried to eat breakfast and read the paper? Its old news.

Its a few years off because they are still expensive but very soon you will have e-readers available for less than $50.

Scott McLaughlin

Some very related thoughts and a recent post from my blog:

The old joke goes "What is Black and White and Red all over?" A newspaper. While this held true for the past few centuries the newspaper industry today is dying at the hands of the almighty Internet. While the Black and White are still there, the Red now only shows up on the balance sheet. Newspapers, like magazines, are able to exist because of advertising and to a lesser extent, paid circulation. Numerous articles and blogs have been written on the state of the industry and what it should do to survive. Part of the problem is the consumers expectation for free content which forces newspapers into a corner. Do they try and charge readers for the content or do they offer it for free on their website? Charging for it generates a revenue stream much like charging for the print edition. Giving it away for free draws a bigger audience which translates into higher rates for online advertising, but effectively eliminates the business case for the printed version. So how do printed newspapers survive?

Almost all markets have at least one newspaper, usually the amalgamation of the what used to be two or three papers. They have a Front section, a Local section, a Sports Section, maybe a Business Section and Classified ads. A vast majority of the front section is usually AP wire stories that you could read in 1,000 other papers across the country. More importantly, you could find the same stories, but in REAL TIME, on thousands of websites. The Local section has stories about local schools, nonprofits, crime, etc and that are usually only available in that particular metro area. The sports section is a few stories about local high school and collegiate teams along with a lot of AP stories, once again, that could be found on thousands of websites in REAL TIME. The Business section highlights a few local businesses, local publicly traded companies and pages and pages of stock market results that, once again, can be found on thousands of websites in REAL TIME.

So, out of all the content listed above, the Local section is the only part that is unique to a particular paper. Why not make the entire paper local? Don't have enough reporters? Publish the numerous local blogs that exist in every community. Newsweek magazine is changing from a reporting-the-news reactive format to a opinion based analysis of the news stories. Or in simpler terms, they are in effect using personal opinion, called blogs on the Internet, as the main part of their content. I am sure every local paper received ten times more oped pieces and letters to the editor than they publish. Why not include more of these?

The basic business idea of product differentiation seems to be non-existent at newspapers. What is the other thing that makes the newspaper different from other forms of media? They have people that come to your door on a daily basis to deliver something. Who says they have to be delivering a newspaper? Team up with local florists and direct mail houses to add a new line of business with very little additional overhead. Do something, anything other than serving simply as the local AP print house.

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