In an environment where many advertisers perceive “the newspaper” as being old and perhaps out of touch with the latest technological advancements, changing up your look can have a big impact.

Take a look around your office. I’m guessing you see cubicles, yes? And several square desks in a row with computers and stacks of newspapers, paper, etc. Oh, maybe a ficus plant in the corner?

Next to the cubicles, you’ve got a chair for clients to sit in when they make the occasional in-office visit. You certainly have some meeting rooms available, though, each with a rectangular table, chairs surrounding, and a conference phone.

We saw the same things around the advertising area in our office at The Register-Guard several months ago, as we discussed how to transform our newspaper into a media company with heavier focus on digital.

And it dawned on us that we needed to start with some physical change.

Like many news media companies these days, we have some extra space in our building. So we reorganised our cubicles –  yes, we likely will always have cubicles – for increased efficiency and a more open environment.

And we re-purposed a corner of the office that had been used for storing five half-broken chairs and a computer from 1998 into a modern meeting space, with mounted flat-screen connected to a computer and an Apple TV device.

With some paint, new furniture, and stick-on white-board material for brainstorming, we created a fully functional and fairly impressive meeting space. We dimmed the fluorescent lights and brought in some lamps to add to the homey and casual atmosphere.

The Apple TV device allows us to connect to our iPads and use them for demonstrations if it suits the situation. Our default screen is a Quantcast real-time analytics image showing active visitors to our Web site: where they’re coming from, what pages they’re looking at, and the source of their arrival (Google, Facebook, etc.).

We have online display ad demo pages bookmarked for easy access, to showcase our work to visiting clients or for sales reps to brainstorm ad design looks with the creative team.

We utilise the large screen to go through our presentations with clients (although we hand them paper copies as leave-behinds) and can easily bounce around the Web with a wireless mouse and keyboard when using the computer.

One of our first advertisers to visit said, “I feel like I’m in Minority Report,” as we showed our real-time analytics and outlined our behavioural targeting techniques. She was very impressed, telling us our digital marketing abilities and presentation package far exceeded those of our regional media brethren she had recently visited.

More importantly, she bought a digital advertising package.

We’re still exploring the space and have yet to really put it to regular daily use. But we feel confident the very cheap remodel (we traded advertising for the furniture, so we really only paid for some paint and few other things) created a better use of space.

It also shows folks internally, as well as externally, that we’re committed to functional change and growing digital emphasis.

So I suggest you take a look around your office and see if there’s a do-it-yourself project that might have a similar effect on your media company’s evolutionary strategy.

Ours is certainly not a company-wide building remodel (such as The Des Moines Register is going through) or one that will change employees’ philosophical outlook overnight. But for us it’s a step in a new direction.

Whether you remodel your entire floor or just rearrange the furniture, one thing is for certain – leaving everything the way it is is not a strategy for affecting change.