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155 chapter seven How to Pursue New Revenue Opportunities For publishers seeking a strategy that will improve bottom-line prospects, the advice to “aggressively pursue new revenue” seems maddeningly simplistic and unfocused. The realization that no one seems to be coming up with the same solution only adds to the frustration. In the highly competitive media landscape that community newspapers now face, there is not just one way but many ways to pursue new revenue. Sallie See, editor of the weekly Hampshire Review in West Virginia, must “spread as wide a net as possible to get the advertising dollars we need to run the paper. We’d starve if I focused only on the businesses in downtown Romney, so I approach the merchants across the county line that my readers patronize.” The Review has also set up an in-house digital ad agency of sorts, having designed more than thirty websites for area businesses, all of which the paper now hosts on its server. Across the continent, in the upscale community of Santa Rosa, California , publisher Bruce Kyse has also created an in-house digital agency at the Press Democrat that offers Web development, search optimization, and social media assistance to clients who are willing to pay more than $1,000 a month. “We are simply following the dollars and the needs of our advertisers in this market,” says Kyse. “We have to develop this expertise to serve them well.” Meanwhile, in the Florida retirement community of Naples, Daily News publisher Dave Neill “reinvented” that daily newspaper’s advertising sales effort by abolishing sales “territories” based on geography and replacing them with a structure built around business categories—including health and wellness, real estate, food, and transportation. Like Kyse, he believes that the key to revenue growth is to “operate at a much higher level of sophistication” for advertisers. And in two very disparate communities in Tennessee and North Carolina , the Columbia Daily Herald and the twice-weekly Pilot have pursued a strategy of diversification. Serving an economically challenged area forty implementing a new strategy 156 miles south of Nashville, the Daily Herald “operates in a world . . . [where initiatives] that bring in a few thousand dollars are valued,” says publisher Mark Palmer. Therefore, the paper has developed a portfolio of seven online services and products; launched three “niche” print magazines focusing on health, men’s lifestyle, and real estate; and developed a host of online opportunities for local merchants. David Woronoff, publisher of The Pilot, which serves the upscale communities of Southern Pines and Pinehurst, has created three slick monthly magazines, two telephone directories, and a local search engine, as well as design and printing businesses. Most recently, the paper purchased a popular local independent bookstore in downtown Southern Pines. As these examples illustrate, the challenges—and opportunities—are different depending on the market. But while a willingness to aggressively seek out new opportunities is key to success in the digital era, publishers of community newspapers need to establish some strategic parameters if they are to profitably pursue new revenue. As Woronoff points out about his own efforts to diversify: “None of these investments come with the kind of fully allocated profit margins newspapers had in the predigital era—nor the income. To compensate for the print advertising loss, you have to diversify your revenue streams—but also choose wisely.” This means that publishers must prioritize and calculate which “opportunities ” will yield the greatest return. To stay abreast of the digital transition currently under way, newspapers need to be diversifying their revenue streams by an average of 6 percent a year. Therefore, at the end of five years, newspapers should, at a minimum, have 30 percent of advertising revenue coming from the new sources. This is more than three times what most community newspapers currently receive from their digital editions. So there is tremendous imperative for newspapers to quickly adopt a whole new way of thinking and selling. Most community newspapers face two significant threats to their current advertising base. In addition to rapidly declining print volume, they must also contend with depressed digital advertising rates. A recent study by the Pew Research Center concluded that for every dollar newspapers gained in digital advertising revenue, they were currently losing anywhere from $7 to $16 in print advertising. Simply increasing the volume of digital advertising is not sufficient to reverse the fortunes of most community newspapers. While print advertising is likely to remain an important marketing tool for local businesses in...


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MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
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