AAsales executive with a typically silo’d American newspaper shared the following story recently that illustrates the cultural challenge for newspapers that want to become multi-media companies.

The newspaper salesman pitched a small company on making an investment in print advertising. The company’s manager shared that, in fact, he invests with the newspaper’s web site.

Yet the company wanted to grow, the newspaper executive heard the man’s story, and went back to him with a proposal. Why don't you increase your marketing budget 500% with the newspaper – mostly online, but also a small print component which is what he was pitching the man on? The salesman was trying to meet the needs of the company while generating incremental revenue for the newspaper -- even though there would be little in the form of print advertising. 

The newspaper salesman went back to his management with the good news … only to be pummeled by the web site’s manager for unauthorised selling of web site advertising inventory without the web site manager’s sales team.

The only good to come of this story is that the newspaper’s publisher stepped in, got everyone on the same page, and is changing the rules to allow for “total audience” selling.

The story illustrates that while newspaper companies have developed multiple media, they must overcome tons of cultural hurdles to sell truly synergistic multi-media solutions.