4 ways to make the most of summer’s last gasp with readers, advertisers


Summer in the United States is almost over! 

This fact slapped me upside the head recently as I drove past a school sign that read: “7th Grade Orientation August 27.”

What? Summer just started, right?

It’s true, this summer has been ridiculously distracting, its sunny beauty and charm tempting even the most stalwart sales executives and editors.

“Listen, I get it,” I told them in June, “but keep your focus. Come in early if you must, keep your heads down, set daily, even hourly goals, hit them, and then … I don’t know, go jump in a pool.”

We even threw out a giant departmental pool party and barbecue as incentive, the memo beginning with lucrative commission details and ending this way: “I myself am very much in touch with my inner lizard,” a lame allusion to the brain’s so-called R-(Reptilian) Complex, which I mistakenly linked to sloth and pleasure-seeking behaviours. (It is, in fact, tied to territoriality, greed, and aggression, not necessarily bad in sales executives, in my way of thinking.)

But I digress.

Face it: There are phases when staff is in touch with a solid work ethic, and there are – other times. For those other times, I offer up some summer-inspired distraction that can be translated into great reader and advertiser content, and that just might make your news media company a place customers turn for brain happiness.

Go jump in a pool. In a weekly meeting with our editor, he casually mentioned that one of our interns planned to create a mobile tour of local public swimming pools, complete with colour photos, hours and pricing, maps, and historic photos of the pools in yesteryear.

We created splashy colour house and mobile ads, and readers jumped in. On the site are ad positions; editorial next created a mobile tour of local golf courses.

Go jump in a lake. The Pacific Northwest is blessed with hundreds of lakes, and our readership area boasts scores of them within a short driving distance from the city centre. How long has it been since we produced the ultimate lake guide? (Quite a while, I’m told.)

Use the mobile tour, of course, to capture the lakes. But add a giant double-truck print pull-out map, the kind your readers will keep around for a long time.

Ask readers to share their lake stories, their favourite beach spots, the best place to grab a burger after a long day in the sun. How much does it cost to snag a lake cabin? Bet your real-estate advertisers would be glad to help readers with that information.

How do the businesses in the small towns around those lakes keep their doors open? Send a pair of sales executives out right now to find out about their challenges, be ready with an intro rate for fall and winter, and then knock their socks off next season.

Go jump in line at the spa. I’ll admit it: I’ve pushed the limits by coming home later and later from the lake on Sunday, often falling into bed at 10:50 p.m. after the drive home in the dark. And OK, I’ve wondered the next morning, “How many times can I hit the ‘snooze’ button? Can I get away with not washing my hair this morning so I can sleep longer?”

Which leads me to: the Ultimate Summer Beauty section, via mobile, online, and in print! What is this dry shampoo I’m reading about everywhere, and could it buy me more pillow time?

What about all these self-tanners: How are they better than the orange-tinged products of two years ago? Yes, of course, I bought a spray-in product that promised “beach waves” this year, but is there a more organic way to achieve the look?

What about fall and winter nail color – how will it ever compete with summer’s vibrant blues, bright yellows, hot corals, and shocking greens? At present, I’m sporting a shade called “Dreamer,” a lovely blue that caused my sister to ask, rather critically I thought, “Do you wear that at work?”

Go jump into some hot summer music. Admit it. Mungo Jerry singing “In The Summertime” can shoot you into a grand summer reverie of epic proportions. It is more than likely that you’ll hear that song, along with “Grazing in the Grass” (The Friends of Distinction) and “Brandy” (Looking Glass) at least once this season.

It’s OK. But you better know 2013’s song of the summer (or songs of the summer, depending on who is voting). Is it “Get Lucky” or is it “Blurred Lines”? Let your readers tell you. Let your staff tell your readers their favourite summer songs from this year, from the past, and the stories behind them.

Do as Stephen Colbert did recently on “The Colbert Report” and dance your way through a 7-minute-long version of “Get Lucky” and create a companywide sensation (“The publisher can DANCE? Who knew?”). Sell the package to local record stores (they are out there!). Sell the package to stores that rent instruments to local students.

Sell some summer joy while you’re at it. You might remind readers of the summer crush they enjoyed as teens, the one that changed their lives – or the one that didn’t.

I recently overheard a barista telling her co-worker, as she prepared my order, “My boyfriend and I hit eight different bodies of water in one weekend. He’s so cute. He said, ‘I’m a good boyfriend.’ He was so proud of himself for pulling that off!”

Your media company can’t be a boyfriend. It can’t be a girlfriend. But it can be memorable, there to anticipate and enjoy, hour by hour, day by day, season after season.

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