Home' Local Media Today : May 2009 Contents An Official Publication of
Suburban Newspapers of America
Suburban Publisher is published by SNA, the only
non-profit trade association in North America that
specifically represents the needs and interests of
suburban and community newspapers.
Mission: SNA supports the community
newspaper industry and related local online
media through leadership, education,
innovation, promotion, research and the
advancement of high standards.
116 Cass Street Traverse City, MI 49684
SNA OFFICERS & DIRECTORS
Chairman of the Board
Stephen W. Parker
Recorder Community Newspapers
First Vice Chairwoman
Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Second Vice Chairman
Arizona Daily Star
Jon K. Rust
Holden Landmark Corporation
Immediate Past Chairman
Community Newspaper Holdings Inc .
Antelope Valley Press
American Community Newspapers LLC
Review Publishing Ltd Par tnership
East Bay Newspapers
Sound Publishing Inc.
Shaw Suburban Media
843-390 -1531; firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President of Operations
SNA Foundation Executive Director
Classifed Avenue Director of Sales
Advertising & Membership Relations Director
Information Technology Director
Sales & Marketing Manager
Classified Avenue Marketing Manager
Kim Cole 610-345-0795 email@example.com
Suburban Publisher Editor
Deb Shaw 610-793-2474; firstname.lastname@example.org
e-mail to email@example.com
Operations Manager, Bonnie Pitozzi
Accounting & Finance Director, Janice Norman
Membership Manager, Valerie Donn
Database Marketing Director, Clara Cherry
Communications Director, Tonya Ratajczak
Admin Asst Classified Avenue, Beth Leman
Suburban Publisher is printed courtesy of A.F.L .
Web Printing,Voorhees and Secaucus, N.J ., one of
the nation’s leading printers of daily, community
and specialty newspapers
#1 Give us the basics please. What is
mobile technology all about?
Mobile technology enables the use of cell
phones for the delivery of news and
advertising content. Cell phone technolo-
gy is changing at a remarkable pace. The
Blackberry Edge I purchased eight
months ago is not produced today. With
the upgrade to 3G technology more and
more content will be delivered via mobile.
Accessing the web via mobile devices is
now common. Delivering video content
including television programs and movies
is becoming more accessible. As a news-
paper, if you haven’t ventured into the
mobile arena you are vulnerable. At a
recent industry event which I spoke at,
fewer than 25% of the participants had
developed a mobile strategy. The time to
act is now!
#2 Why should we as an industry be
moving in this direction?
With the advancement of 3G mobile tech-
nology, opportunities exist for newspapers
companies to venture into the arena of
multimedia content delivery through
mobile devices. This technology will
continue to grow. In order to maintain our
position as the leading content provider in
our communities, it is vital to dominate
#3 What kind of news to do you send
Breaking news was the first. We have
migrated to sending local high school and
college sports scores directly to sub-
scribers cell phones during the games. We
beat the competition consistently by uti-
lizing this technology. Coupon delivery
for advertisers is an area we are just
beginning to venture into. We are work-
ing with local school districts to use our
system to deliver school closing informa-
tion that traditionally has been delivered
via television and radio.
#4 Who are the best targets for this
type of delivery?
Really, anyone with a cell phone is a tar-
get. We are developing strategies to target
groups with different interests – like little
league parents, soccer moms and so forth.
Using our system to deliver information,
then developing marketing strategies to
link advertisers to customers.
#5The whole notion of delivering
news via ‘mobile’ sounds compli-
cated. Is it?
The technology we use is very simple –
we contract with a company called
TextCaster. The technology is so simple I
can use it. At one newspaper I worked at
all members of the newsroom were
trained to use the system. Here at the
Southeast Missourian we have designated
individuals based on content focus. Our
sports reporters actually send alerts from
a wireless laptop from the events we are
covering. We are currently working with
a local fire department to enable them to
send alerts from the scene of fires.
#6 Is it expensive to set up and oper-
I can only speak to the product we use.
Based on the circulation size of our
organization we pay less than $400 per
month for the service.
#7 How do you make money
There are a couple of revenue strategies
that can be utilized. Sponsorships are
the easiest – selling sponsorships to busi-
nesses based on content - sports, break-
ing news, weather, etc. Or, as was the
case with a paper I recently worked at,
exclusive sponsorship for the whole pro-
gram. This generated more than $20,000
in revenue for that company. We are pack-
aging text sponsorships with online and
online directory sales here at the
#8 You’ve been a fan of mobile for a
while – what has your experience
taught you so far?
There is great opportunity to target using
text. There is also great opportunity to be
creative. There is mobile technology that
can enable businesses to geo-target poten-
tial customers. Say you are a restaurant
and are having a slow evening. You send
a text to a subscriber-base that says –
Tuesday special – buy one meal, get the
second FREE. If you are a bar and are
having a slow evening you might send out
a text message that says – Margarita
Special $1.00! The opportunity to pro-
mote on the fly is very powerful.
Building a mobile subscriber base is crit-
ical to our future and can be monetized
#9 Any hindsight wisdom to share
that can help others accelerate
their learning curve and success rate?
A mobile subscriber base is worth its
weight in gold. The more aggressive you
can be in building the subscriber base the
faster you will have a chance to develop
revenue streams. We have not built our
subscriber base here in Southeast
Missouri very fast. We are becoming
more creative and more aggressive at
building this base now. We currently have
approximately 1,000 subscribers. One of
our sister markets in Dyersburg, Arkansas
built a subscriber base of 1,500 in about a
month. The sweet spot for starting to sell
sponsorships of text alerts is 1,000 sub-
Mobile is another arrow in your multi-
media quiver. In rural areas, like
Southeast Missouri, residential internet
penetration is only 66%. I would be hard
pressed to find an area, either urban or
rural that does not have cell phone sevice.
The mobile providers are upgrading their
systems everywhere to 3G. They are
expanding their bandwidth to enable users
to access more and more features. More
features provide newspapers more oppor-
Looking into my crystal ball, I see a day –
somewhere in the future where more peo-
ple will be accessing the internet wireless-
ly than wired (including fiber optic). As
an industry it is vital to our future success
to engage a mobile strategy.
Rust Communications, Inc.
For Jim Maxwell
Topic: Mobile Text Alerts et al
“As a newspaper, if
ventured into the
mobile arena you
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