The Southern Newspaper Publishers Association’s Annual Convention took place in Williamsburg, Virginia, last week. Below are a few highlights and top quotes of the conference:
“I can’t compete with your brand.”
From Warren Webster, President of Patch, when asked how newspapers can compete with Patch.
Patch is in 863 neighborhoods covered by 1,000 journalists. In 2010, they were ranked the 10th largest local property by comScore in terms of monthly unique visitors – in 2011 they moved up to number five. They are investing in infrastructure. In terms of town penetration, 50 percent of a town population visits Patch within 7 months of site launch and over 80 percent of the population will visit monthly after one year. Currently, 90 percent of their advertising is local and 10 percent is national. They want to be the “concierge” of the web.
When asked about revenue needed by Patch, Webster noted the example that they would need $10-$12,000 of revenue per month in a 26,000 populated market.
“Eat your own dog food.”
From Earl J. Wilkinson, Executive Director and CEO of International Newsmedia Marketing Association, when referring to Google’s microculture.
“Eat your own dog food” means testing within the company with associates before launching. Other references to the Google culture include: hire people smarter than you and then get out of the way; hire generalists to deal with “what’s next” rather than specialists; don’t reward good planning, reward results.
Wilkinson highlighted a number of successful case studies where “culture trumps strategy.” He mentioned that according to Pew, in two years there will be as many people in this country reading a paper digitally as they do in print.
“People are coming out of the woodwork waiting to write for us.”
From Barry Leffler, CEO and Managing Partner of 1360 WCHL, referring to their Chapelboro.com hyper-niche within hyper-local website.
They launched with ten blogger columnists and are now at 22. The columnists aren’t paid, but must write once a week. In terms of revenue, they have a dedicated sales team for the site and do not sell remnant space.
“You have immense brand equity. You reach important and valuable audiences every day….It’s time to diversify your revenue.”
From Jim Moroney, Publisher and CEO of The Dallas Morning News, on how to keep your print economics stable.
After 20 consecutive quarters of print decline, they saw this as the time to diversify. They raised the home delivery price of the Dallas Morning News 40% across the board and even higher outside the immediate delivery market. They eventually raised single copy as well.
They got out of the telesales business in 2009 and were able to cut churn from 52 to 31 percent. They take no “promise to pay” orders and experienced a tremendous decrease in expenses.
They launched Briefing ahead of the price increase. This is an opt-out product delivered to 200,000 non-subscriber households. It’s made up of 57% preprint revenue vs. 43% display. It’s distributed Wednesday-Saturday and is 12-24 broadsheet pages. In 2011, they exceeded $14 million in revenue vs. $1.8 million when launched in 2008.
“Newspapers can dominate daily deals.”
From Matt Coen, Co-Founder and President of Second Street Media Solutions.
According to Coen, newspapers have loyal audiences and established brands. When the size of email lists increase, the better the deals response. Groupon spent $179 million in subscriber acquisition. They signed more than 32.5 million new subscribers in the first quarter of 2011.
According to Michael Lambert, Advertising Research Manager at the Virginian-Pilot, in their first full year of deals they will top $1 million. Their top volume deal was 3,500 in one day for a yogurt company. Their top revenue volume was $54,000 for one customer (golf course).
Learn more about the deals space at SNA’s Deal Summit in Tampa next month by clicking here.