In July, I blogged about our new venture at The Register-Guard called “Storytellers.” We had just launched the sales effort and have since launched the campaign. We’ve had some great response and feedback.
We’ve also learned a lot, and I thought it would be worth sharing our ups and downs in a progress report.
As I explained in the July post, we launched this programme in coordination with our hometown university journalism school. That partnership has been great. The former students, students, and professors involved have been wonderful, sharing their talent, creativity, and professionalism.
The approach to this programme was a first for us, in the native advertising vein, and has taken a bit longer than anticipated to explain to advertisers (see video below.)
It’s also taken longer than expected to roll out completed projects, once sold. But, as established early on, we have very low overhead in a modest but fair arrangement with the university and a long-term success goal that doesn’t require overnight sales spikes.
We launched the programme with print and online promotion on October 2, when we had two businesses to feature on our Web site. We’ve had positive feedback from our participants, readers, and interested future participants, with a number of advertisers in production currently and several others inquiring.
The “Storytellers” programme has multiple layers of benefits, beyond the obvious video production.
We are targeting our ideal candidate list of advertisers that we would like to see featured here. This programme is not for everyone. We hope to see long-time, locally owned and operated businesses highlighted here, as well as ones that have a unique story to tell.
In addition to the three- to four-minute video created — in journalistic, not commercial style — we provide a consistent promotional print and online advertising package. It’s one thing to create something interesting and provocative; it’s another to place it on a pedestal to ensure it is seen. We provide both, and that’s something we can uniquely provide.
We also took the opportunity to tell our own story, which is something we as an industry have never been very good at. We talked internally a bit as we did this, wondering if we could have done this ourselves, without the university group’s assistance.
While we obviously were technically capable of doing so, I don’t think we could have possibly accomplished what we did in the final edit had we chosen to do it ourselves. And we would have sacrificed some measure of opportunity cost, as well, given our limited time/resource constraint of today.
In the end, we went through a similar process that we are asking our advertisers to go through and learned from that, as well.
The benefits of this programme for us have been new revenue gain, certainly, but also the opportunity to showcase our creative potential with a multi-media package unlike anything we have previously done.
It’s also provided us the opportunity to have a more engaging conversation with our advertisers, to help them craft their message in a different light.
The ability to tell our own story has been a great bonus. We feel this programme will grow exponentially as we get more businesses on board. So far, this venture has been a successful one, with limited risk and high reward.