Home' Local Media Today : January 2006 Contents HAPPY NEW YEAR ... IT’S RESOLUTION TIME!
I was so relieved to be reminded about the fast-approaching deadline for
my monthly column. This is not just any old monthly column. We’re not
talking about a slice of insight on the order of 500 words or so. It’s January
2006 and that means it’s time to formally declare our New Year’s resolu-
tions. I’m all business when it comes to resolutions. This is more than just
a seasonal ritual for me. It’s time to set the agenda for our industry – a no-
holds barred “must do” list that we commit to relentlessly drive home. I
know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking there’s no way I can avoid
incorporating a few “family and friends” resolutions along the way, such as
the old “spend more time at home” pledge. Sure, my wife reads Suburban
Publisher from time to time, but business is business. Not going to happen!
In the spirit of “less is more,” let’s collectively focus on just three resolu-
tions I’ve identified on our behalf.
FIRST, THIS BUSINESS IS ALL ABOUT PEOPLE. This is a great
time of year to commit to regular employee meetings that allow sufficient
time for employees to ask questions of us. Let’s create an open dialogue
and engage our employees in addressing the challenges we’re facing.
Perhaps creating a series of “roundtable” discussions to focus on one or
two specific issues would yield some fresh thinking. Let’s especially seek
to involve younger and newer employees so that their media habits and
workplace expectations can inspire and influence us. Based on what we
learn from these meetings, let’s formalize a better training and develop-
SECONDLY, WE ALL RECOGNIZE THE CHALLENGES WE’RE
FACING TO MAINTAIN OR GROW OUR CLASSIFIED REV-
ENUES. I suggest we take an inventory of best practices in terms of serv-
ices and pricing models and honestly assess how we’re doing. Are our ver-
ticals supported online with progressive applications? Are we accepting ads
via the internet for our print and online products? Have we established the
right sales structure and culture? Are we aware of how we’re doing against
our online and print competitors? Are we operating with a business plan
for developing our classified marketplace and researching how we’re
doing? Are we taking these categories for granted - still?
FINALLY, AND I DO MEAN FINALLY, WE MUST STAY
PLUGGED-IN TO HOW OUR NEWSPAPERS ARE MEETING OUR
READERS’ NEEDS. Regrettably, many newspaper companies had to
reassess staff levels in 2005 and reduce staffing. In good and difficult
times, it’s important to have objective evidence of how well we’re meeting
our readers’ expectations. Our circulation department, along with varying
degrees of research can sensitize us to the “street perspective.” A former
boss of mine liked to quiz me about how well I was hearing what the
“street” had to say. I’ve never forgotten his advice.
Wait, did I say finally?
Well, since I’m shy of my 500 “words of wisdom,” perhaps I should recon-
sider a “family-oriented” resolution. So, let’s just all pledge to strike a
healthy balance between our work demands and spending time with the
ones we love. Yes, in my case, I’m talking about my wife, Laurie, and our
children, Dylan (9) and Skylar (3).
There, I said it. The space was available so I took it.
Now I don’t have to worry about bringing my copy of Suburban Publisher
home from the office.
Sure, I ran a bit over my 500 word limit, but these are challenging times
and we had a lot of business to cover – some personal.
Have a great year!
SNA Board Chairman
Chairman of the Board
Learn about the latest web
strategies & statistics
With other website choices just a click
away, it’s fair to say that the world wide
web is a very fragmented universe. As
users become more and more comfort-
able with “hunting and pecking” their
way around the net, newspaper company
sites have to be even more compelling to
keep the readers attention.
SNA conferences have been boasting
web experts on the meeting agendas for
the past couple of years and members
who attended the Publishers’ & Ad
Directors’ conference in Denver, CO late
last year had the pleasure of hearing
from two leaders in the field. Rob
Runett, Director of Electronic Media
Communications for the Newspaper
Association of America, and Andrew
Langhoff, General Counsel & Vice
President of Internet Development for
Ottaway Newspapers, addressed the
gathering on current usage statistics, and
strategies being used to attract, maintain
and grow newspaper website activity.
SNA’s website features a current news
article on their presentations and mem-
bers are urged to check it out now and
begin to craft their strategies for the new
year. While the ideal newspaper compa-
ny website has yet to be discovered,
Ottaway’s Langhoff believes they’re not
too far away from it and he gives a pret-
ty strong call to action for publishers at
suburban and community newspapers.
NAA’s Runett makes a compelling case
for capitalizing on what newspaper sites
already have – a very attractive audience
who is educated, employed and willing
to do commerce on the web, a real plus
when it comes to attracting advertisers.
See the top news story now, entitled Web
Strategies & Statistics, at www.suburban-
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