Home' Local Media Today : February 2015 Contents 18 | LOCAL MEDIA TODAY | February 2015
Q&A Jaci Smith
CONT. FROM PAGE 2
■ Native ads should be clearly labeled with the sponsor. News sites should have a page
that displays a clear definition of native advertising and the paper’s mission statement in
■ It should be clear to the advertiser that while creating the native ad is a fully collabora-
tive process, the ad is ultimately the property of the publisher and therefore subject to its
standards of ethics and journalism.
Those are just a few. There are plenty more and they’re all written down. They have
Q Do you have a current native advertising program at your newspaper and how
does it operate?
A Yes, we do. Here’s how it works:
1. Our media consultants go out and provide base level information on all of
our advertising products, including native. If an advertiser expresses an interest in na-
tive, the consultant gives me their contact information.
2. I talk with the client to determine their goals and what kind of native advertising they
may be interested in (One-off or longer term campaign and type of ad – story, video, gal-
lery, social media post, etc.).
3. I create a proposal, which I then share with the client and the consultant. Once the
client selects which product interests them, the media consultant books it and I create it.
4. Once done, I send it to the client and consultant, with the caveat that they are
welcome to provide feedback but that they do not get final say on the content, look or
placement of the product. To date, I haven’t had a single client back out after seeing my
5. The product runs. A couple weeks later, I send the client the metrics on the ad to let
them know how it performed.
My “day job” is as the Daily News’ managing editor, so when I took over producing/
helping sell native there were several conflicts that needed to be addressed:
1. I could no longer edit copy. Those duties went to an editor at a sister paper.
2. I could no longer coach reporters on specific stories. Those questions/discussions
were funneled to another editor and a reporter who expressed interest in getting some
experience in coaching reporters.
3. I could not engage with the public on any native advertising we ran or any story that
included a native advertiser in it. Another editor or our editorial assistant handled that
Obviously, the editor at our sister paper did not have the time to simply pick up some
of my duties and add them to his own, so I took over some of his work that wasn’t a
1. I write the editorial pieces for both our papers
2. I do the overall growth and development coaching of staff
3. I organize the story budgets for both our papers
4. I do most of the social media work for our papers
Q Changing gears, we know that audiences engaging with digital content offered
by news media are continually growing and that younger adults are increasingly
predisposed to mobile access. What are you and your colleagues doing to address this
shift to mobile? What mobile products do you have in place, or are you planning, to be
A Just this year, we unveiled our mobile app that also has an enhanced user
experience built in. People who have our app can scan a logo in the print edition
of the paper, or the “trigger” photo online and be treated to additional multi-media
content, whether it be a photo gallery, audio clip or a video. Advertisers can load
coupons or additional information in their triggers. Thus far, it has proven to be pretty
popular with both users and advertisers.
We also stress a “digital first” mentality in our newsroom. That’s why we have nearly
5,000 likes on our Facebook page and a reach of more than 5 times our print circulation
for most of our FB posts. We’re also on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
We engage pretty heavily with our social media audience, which includes younger
adults (depending upon the platform, of course!). Most social media is now being ac-
cessed via mobile so we spend some time developing it.
Q Social media has opened the floodgates of two-way communication with
audiences. Do you value social media as a tool for engaging audience? How are
using Twitter, Facebook, etc? Getting max engagement?
A Again, yes, that’s critical to us. Other than our website, we reach the largest
audience through social media. We’ve asked for and used photos of community
events and breaking news, and we frequently crowdsource our stories using social
media. We’ve found interesting people and stories to pursue and we’ve changed our
angle on stories in response to visitor feedback. With Facebook’s recent changes to
reach and its limitations on certain types of posts, we’re also looking to broaden the
types of social media we use as well.
Q Can you give us some insight into how you are achieving a spirited workplace
culture that enables innovative thinking and new initiatives? Are you able to
share any up & coming projects you and your team are percolating?
A I allow Snickers, Mountain Dew and swearing. (http://jimromenesko.
In all seriousness, I make a habit of trying to find ways to say “Yes” as much as pos-
sible. I try to ask more questions than make statements and I am honest in admitting
what I don’t know. I am really excited about 2015 because we will be looking at restruc-
turing our newsroom to further emphasize “digital first.”
And I will continue to push the envelope when it comes to the blending of the adver-
tising and editorial departments.
Q Finally, and this is the loaded question, what do you foresee for community
newspapers? What do you think local newsrooms should be doing to remain
current and vital as the definitive local source of news and information?
A I think community newspapers will remain the top place people go for informa-
tion on their towns. No one does hyper local like a small town newspaper. But I
am not sure that a small town paper will look the same in print, or have the same
content that it has now. I envision fewer editions with more in-depth work that readers
can’t find anywhere else.
I also think that small market newsrooms need to become more digital and more
mobile right now. Doing that requires letting go of some of the legacy practices that our
industry has held dear for so long.
The longer we wait to make this change, the greater the opportunity for someone
else to come in and nab those younger adults who consume their news almost entirely
via social media and on their smart phones.
President & Publisher
“ TownNews.com has it
right when it comes to
the next generation of
Call 800.293.9576 today.
Say hello to Jaci Smith at the Mega-Conference this month! She’ll
be presenting on Tuesday morning and discussing her findings
from her RJI fellowship project on native content.
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