Every newspaper — no matter how many years it exists — has to decide one day how to celebrate an anniversary, whether it’s 10 years, 25 years, 50 years, or more.
But the question is what to do? Have a big party? Special offers for subscribers? Publish a book with the history of the company?
We at HNA (Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemeine), a local newspaper in the middle of Germany, had to make that decision in 2015 for our 70th anniversary.
The first edition of our local newspaper was published on September 22, 1945. At that time the newspaper was called Hessische Nachrichten, in relation to the part of the country, Hesse, where it was published.
In 1959, two newspapers in Kassel merged to Hessische Allgemeine, and the distribution area grew through the years. In 1974, the newspaper was renamed in Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemeine (HNA) because it was also the newspaper for readers in the south of Lower Saxony, a neighbouring state to Hesse.
Now we have 15 local editions and 180,000 subscribers, about 140 editors, 25 volunteers, and about 500 other employees working for HNA.
When the anniversary rolled around, we had the idea to make a special, localised print edition for subscribers. The edition was filled with a lot of reading material. We told the history of the company (from lead typesetting to the newest projects) and offered the readers an insight to our newspaper — from the printing house to customer service to the newspaper deliverers, the marketing team, and the editors.
Every region in our area of distribution had its own anniversary edition because we wanted all readers to identify themselves with the edition. In each market, we ran localised stories explaining how editors in the region work, we introduced their newspaper deliverers, we explained what the customer service and marketing teams are doing, and so on.
We published the anniversary edition in the end of September 2015. We had three months for planning and implementing, and needed four weeks for production. Approximately 100 employees from different divisions worked together.
The edition looked a bit like the first edition from 1945, but also included a hint to modern times with Web sites and smartphones on the cover. The anniversary edition was delivered with the newspaper in September.
To make money with this anniversary edition, we ran congratulations from business customers as advertisements, and major customers had their own articles, which were also sold as advertisements.
Also, we had special offers for the whole month for our customers. For example, they had the possibility to place their ads in the print anniversary edition and also place ads online at HNA.de.
What surprised us was that we had so many advertisements, the edition grew and grew bigger. First we planned for about 50 pages. In the end, we had 96 pages because so many local advertisements, from butchers to car dealers, from furniture stores to restaurants. Overall, we had more than 450 advertisements in just the anniversary edition.
And now the most interesting point: We earned more than €500,000 in the anniversary month with a profit of €315,000.
The anniversary edition was one of the biggest and most successful print supplements HNA has ever had. It was complex to plan everything, it required a lot of working time and coordination. But in the end, we didn’t have solely financial profit. We also gained because so many divisions worked together and had one common goal, the project was a great motivation for the whole company.