We are surrounded by news, yet still Canadians seek it out throughout the day in various ways.
Newspapers continue to be an important resource for news because they have developed strong brands and established their credibility.
However, technology plays a large part in the “if,” “how,” and “when.” It has driven the change in how readership has evolved.
Millennials and baby boomers seem to be polar opposites in their behaviour, and I thought I would look at those pesky, hard-to-attract young adults in this blog post.
We conducted an informal study of 18- to 34-year-olds to gain better insight into how Millennials access news and what they consider news. Combined with what we can take from the NADbank Study, we start to see a very different picture of news consumption emerging.
Today’s young adults have grown up with the Internet, computers, and mobile devices. Their behaviour has been shaped by the tools and toys they have been surrounded by.
Their expectations are completely different than those of their boomer counterparts. Boomers know the routine and the news cycle; they have their habits and media platforms. Young adults are in spin mode; they have a number of preferred channels, but much of their consumption happens by snacking and serendipity.
It’s all about convenience.
11 June 2013 · by Elisabeth Clark
It happened like this. A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were at a gathering of our sailing friends, and discussion turned to, of all things, work.
I was talking about my current projects, and how there are times I’m not sure which way to turn. Then, out of the blue, my husband mentioned that my project load was just like the “guy with the spinning plates on the Ed Sullivan Show.”
Now, a little background might be necessary here. My husband is a few years older than I am, so this reference didn’t mean much to me, but it got a chuckle from the over-50 crowd. They all knew exactly what this meant.
Seeing the puzzled look on my face, he showed me the clip below. Take a minute. It’s worth it.
This clip really hit home. I am that person! There are many days lately when I feel just like this guy, but I cannot afford to let any of my plates drop.
You know the feeling, right? There is so much to do, and it is hard to effectively get everything done as well as it should be done.
Newspapers are transforming themselves at an amazing pace. Because of the need to move rapidly and because of the staffing changes we have all experienced, there are times when, as my boss, Kim Wilson, says, “We are actually building the airplane at the same time we are flying it.”
Let’s face it. We can’t do everything all at once, so how do you choose what matters most?
Some people would say to first work on the revenue-producing items. That can make sense. But if you really think about our future, it all comes down to giving our customers what they want.
That’s my simple message today....[more]
29 May 2013 · by Kathleen Coleman
It doesn’t hurt that The Wenatchee World, in north central Washington state in the United States, has a clear, concise mission statement: To “engage, inform, and inspire our North Central Washington communities.”
And it doesn’t hurt that current Publisher Rufus Woods grew up schooled on his family’s early legacy: economic development of Washington state’s Columbia Basin.
For 23 years, the Woods family and its newspaper championed the Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia Basin Irrigation project, which gave life to the region’s vast agricultural industry.
In the years following, the Woods family pressed forward, studying regional energy resources and maintaining a heritage of community service and development, paired with service journalism.
Today, Rufus Woods has launched Community Connections, a nice turn of phrase that simply means communities need newspapers more than ever.
Newspapers encourage conversation, tap into issues and perspectives that might otherwise go unshared – and they serve their communities.
“Asking people to build a stronger community seems to be the hook to engage people with this effort,” said Woods, noting with a smile that he and a non-profit community partner have “launched a civic engagement centre in what was our old pressroom.”
The initiative includes first-person columns submitted by a core group of 36 people — with six to eight new recruits coming on each week — who write on topics they are passionate about: education and technology; bridging the culture divide; solutions to homelessness; suicide prevention; recovery from addiction; leadership and economic development.
The second component is profiles, done in question-and-answer format by local non-profit organisations from their own perspective. The newspaper is actively pursuing profiles of young Latino leaders, highly effective teachers, and others who provide a unique community insight.
“Community Connection” pages appear a couple of times each week in print and of course online — with an eye toward a blog format this summer, as well as possible co-created themed newsletters on topics like local history, local food, technology, and others.
“The first-person columns are crowding out wire stories that are less relevant to many local readers,” said Woods, who is the project’s main champion. “I spend a lot of time on this, thinking about things we aren’t covering but that are relevant and interesting for the community.
“This may be more than most people would be willing to do. But in the end, we need to do more curating, convening, and facilitating meaningful perspective and ideas than being just a producer.”...[more]
22 May 2013 · by Dan Johnson
I was astounded this past week to receive the March 31, 2013, AAM Snapshot (formerly Fas-Fax) report.
It wasn’t so much the incredible year-over-year gains in total circulation. In fact, as has been discussed and reported in other blogs and articles, it is really meaningless to make year-over-year comparisons due to new categories of digital and branded edition circulation.
No, what struck me (and this is what newspaper companies have been trying to drive home for years) were the incredible audiences that newspapers continue to command!
When I was director of sales and marketing at The Spokesman-Review, one of my favourite things to do was to use readership studies to create promotional ads that compared the reach and penetration of The Review to other media in the market.
We would brainstorm clever representations that would illustrate the number of TV spots or radio ads you would need to run to match the reach of the daily newspaper.
There was not another media outlet in the market that could even come close to the number of consumers the newspaper touched on a daily basis, and this is especially true when you look at the net combined audience of print and digital together!
Advertising revenue continues to be a challenge at most media companies — not just newspapers. But in the newspaper industry, the transition from a focus on the number of net-paid subscribers to the vast number of audiences served by multiple products has clearly come a long way.
During this time, I believe the newspaper industry has finally begun a shift that will secure its future in some form for years to come....[more]
19 May 2013 · by Cynthia Collins
“Should newsrooms act more like advertisers? Or should advertisers act more like newsrooms?” asked Tim Nolan, the Interactive Group Director at BBH NY, at the Social Media Summit at The New York Times on April 20.
He proposes: “Somewhere in the middle is probably where we need to be.”
Real-time marketing. Some wonder if it’s already over. Some say it’s a myth. Some claim, and I agree, that it’s just beginning. And thanks to social media and mobile devices, “the need to move faster is greater now than it has ever been,” Nolan says.
Why aren’t the marketers for news organisations, whose very brands epitomise “real time,” working to lead the way?
One of the day’s first discussions at the Social Media Summit in April focused on what social media techniques journalists and news organisations can borrow from the worlds of politics, branding, marketing, and advertising.
Representatives from top agencies acknowledged that some of the most successful marketing programmes over the past year have resulted from brands and agencies borrowing the tricks of a conventional newsroom....[more]
14 May 2013 · by Claire Hawley
I was recently hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu.
At the start of the trail, the path forked, and I chose the path that seemed to have fewer hikers.
I hiked for about four hours until I reached what appeared to be the end of the trail. Disappointed, I returned the way I came.
If I had veered the other direction at the split, I would have traversed a complete loop with vistas of both the Pacific Ocean and the wildflower-dotted mountains.
My hiking options — the linear and circular paths — can be used to illustrate a metaphor of what was coined in a 2009 McKinsey Quarterly publication as the “Consumer Decision Journey.”
The traditional purchase funnel starts with a large pool of brands from which consumers can choose; narrows to fewer choices as they gather information and are exposed to ads or sales pitches; and, finally, results in the sale.
This is where the funnel stops — the end of the linear trail.
However, as the study proposes, the journey in the digital era is much more like the trail that loops.
There are many places to diverge from or connect to the loop, as well as points to maintain interest and motivation to continue on, rather than back track. Also, the hike is more likely to result in repeat visits, social recommendations, and future group outings with friends.
The CDJ model describes this as the post-purchase experience, which leads to a “loyalty loop” in which the customer continues along the path in an even tighter relationship with the brand.
For news organisations, a traditional funnel might look like this:
- Customer has a variety of news publications to choose from.
- Customer picks up a copy of the Los Angeles Times at the newsstand.
- Customer views insert promoting a special subscription offer.
- Customer calls to subscribe.
02 May 2013 · by Elisabeth Clark
A few weeks ago, Bob Provost reminded us all, in his Bottom-Line Marketing blog post, of the scene from Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail.
You know the scene. The one during the Plague, when the dead people are being loaded onto the “dead body cart” being wheeled through the streets.
During the scene, an overly eager relative tries to dispose of an old man who’s still alive.
“I’m not dead!” — “He says he’s not dead.” — “Yes he is!” — “I am not!” — “Well, he will be soon. He’s very ill.” — “I’m getting better.” — “No, you’re not! You’ll be stone dead in a moment.”
Bob used that scene to illustration how the newspaper industry needs to make meaningful investments to transform its future.
I’d like us to think about that scene on a more personal level — the need to arm our employees against the media blasts foretelling the demise of newspapers.
We need to give our employees an inoculation against the black plaque of negativity.
How many of you have seen that look? You know the look. Of course you do! We all have seen it. The look of pity people give you when you tell them you work for a print media company.
That look is immediately followed by comments such as, “Are you really going to make it?” Or: “How much longer do you think you’ll have a job?”
Isn’t it interesting what we have done to ourselves? How many articles have the media thrust out there about their own demise?...[more]
21 April 2013 · by Lynne Brennen
Spurred on by John Newby’s April 10th blog, “Smaller markets or print footprints: Which approach will win?” I re-read Warren Buffett’s 2012 shareholder letter, with a particular focus on an explanation of why he bought newspapers beginning on page 16.
(As an aside, I recommend all executives make this an annual read. Mr. Buffett’s shareholder letters provide a wonderful tutorial in strategic thinking, economic wisdom, and humble stewardship.)
Back to newspapers. Yes, Mr. Buffett believes in the power of print. He also believes in the economic equivalence of print and digital — valuable content shouldn’t be given away for free.
Mr. Buffett’s letter also references a strong audience development credo, linking relevance and the perceived value among readers.
You can debate Mr. Buffett’s perception of what constitutes shrinking content when it’s disseminated across both print and digital platforms, but he’s right on point in advocating consumer pricing across platforms for highly relevant content.
Find the greatest points of relevance between readers and the newspaper. Then, promote them!
An excerpt from Mr. Buffett’s letter reads: “Charlie and I believe that papers delivering comprehensive and reliable information to tightly bound communities and having a sensible Internet strategy will remain viable for a long time.”
17 April 2013 · by Claire Hawley
When an Australian tourism agency offered up “The Best Job In the World,” 130,000 people filmed and submitted video applications.
Last month, in another user-generated content (UCG) phenomenon, 4,000 users uploaded their own Harlem Shake videos to YouTube in a single day.
Preconceptions about user-generated content run rampant, including assumptions that participation is motivated by prizes, spurred by extreme reactions (such as restaurant reviews), or stoked by a desire to be showered with likes and laughs.
(Luckily for all of us, most Internet users can resist the urge to submit their precious progeny to a “cutest baby” contest in the hopes of rearing the next Honey Boo Boo.)
But user-generated content does offer publishers an opportunity to appeal to a larger audience and build brand loyalty, while also adding meaningful context and depth to credible news reporting. And it does so by appealing to a motivation that 100% of homo sapiens respond to: the need to belong....[more]
14 April 2013 · by Sandy MacLeod
Paywall programmes for newspaper publishers are definitely in vogue, and my newspaper, the Toronto Star, has announced it will be joining the fray with the introduction of a paid digital content plan in the summer of 2013.
There are times when a business can benefit from being a “first mover.” But, in this case, I am happy to be a follower, learning from the mistakes of others, picking up the wisdom of experience, and benefiting from lower launch costs.
The Star has been planning this move for many months and has invested significant resources in understanding what makes for a successful paid digital initiative for a North American newspaper.
Here is my top 10 list:
- Selling digital subscriptions requires expertise not normally found within the traditional newspapers’ circulation or marketing departments. It requires expertise in banner ad optimisation, landing page optimisation, and specialised digital direct marketing skills.
These same skills need to be developed for selling print subscriptions, as well as digital subscriptions. You may need to hire external experts because you may under-perform if you try to get by with your current circulation or marketing resources.
- Selling print, digital, and combination subscriptions requires significant and consistent presence on your Web site’s homepage, even if it means taking up valuable space normally allocated to news.
- Digital subscription marketing requires specialised third-party resources, such as a paid-search agency and conversion rate optimisation consultants. You must budget for this necessity.
- Plan for about 40% churn in digital subscriptions after your first full year in operation.
- Expect the vast majority of digital-only subscribers to come from internal electronic sources. Plan for 85% of digital-only subscribers to come from or through the landing page or Growl. The remaining 15% will come through paid media, search, display, or e-mail.