Leveraging core newspaper assets: credibility, brand equity, reach


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Success for any business, including newspapers (local newsmedia companies), depends on their ability to pursue strategies that leverage their core assets. Getting the most from “what you’ve got” is not only logical, but essential for survival.

For some unfamiliar with the way newspapers deliver audience and make money, “what you’ve got” starts and ends with the “news.”

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released results from their “Ideological News Sources: Who Watches and Why” research study of U.S. consumers in September 2010. The study revealed that 9% of U.S. consumers got their news exclusively through digital channels, compared with 39% who used only traditional media and 36% who used both digital and traditional media to obtain news on a daily basis.

Study results prompted a senior analyst from eMarketer to predict that “while the number of digital newspaper readers will continue to grow as digital devices proliferate, the number of print newspaper readers will remain flat or continue to drop.”

The analyst goes on to suggest that future success for “news publishers” depends on retaining credibility, keeping loyal news seekers coming back, building communities around content and taking advantage of social channels to disseminate information and enable sharing.

While this is sound advice, it is based on the overriding assumption that consumers only read or buy a newspaper for the news and that newspapers are only in the “news” business.

Future success for “news publishers” depends on identifying and leverage all core assets — which begins with an objective assessment of existing resources and capabilities and their relative strengths and weaknesses (value) today, and in tomorrow’s competitive environment. Local newsmedia companies — those with paid, home delivery newspapers — possess core assets that provide a competitive advantage over other local, regional and national sources for “news” — and advertising and entertainment and information. Those core assets include credibility, brand equity, audience reach, and delivery of a known audience. When combined these core assets provide local newsmedia companies with an “unfair advantage” for acquiring, retaining and dominating local audience delivery and advertising market share.

Yes, it starts with credibility as a source for accurate and objective news and information driven by journalistic standards. And it is reinforced daily with the advertising and promotion of legitimate goods and services and amplified further with ongoing community involvement and leadership on local issues that matter.

A recent article asked the INMA.org audience whether they would be willing to invest in newspapers. Many would be willing to invest based solely on the value of the local newspaper’s brand equity. While a brand is the sum of all contacts over time, the newspaper brand derives its value — and competitive advantage — from its local presence (building, lands, employees) and long-term relationships (advertisers and community) that are reinforced by decades of continuous, and generally uninterrupted, service.

It is a newspaper’s credibility and brand equity that are responsible for helping deliver unmatched local audience reach across print and digital communications channels. From mass to niche to one-to-one audience delivery, newspapers provide unmatched channel and frequency options to advertisers. No other local, regional or national “news” source can come close to aggregating and delivering the local audience reach a newspaper can.

Local newsmedia companies — those with paid, home delivery newspapers — possess the capability to deliver a known, identifiable and quantifiable audience that provides advertisers with greater value and the newspaper with a competitive advantage for retaining and acquiring a greater share of local advertising revenue. Newspaper customers have names and live at physical addresses. They also have Internet access, e-mail addresses, mobile phone numbers, and postal mail boxes, all of which add to their value to local advertisers and newspapers.

So when developing business strategies for success it is essential to leverage all core assets of the business. And when it comes to newspapers — or local newsmedia companies — it should include credibility, brand equity, audience reach and known audience delivery.

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