As always happens in a society looking for change, especially in how we get our news and information, new ideas come and go, and the more “traditional” or established brands have to find ways to adapt, shift focus or decide to stay the course. Usually the more progressive brands are able to adapt, split fad from solid business, and re-invent themselves. It gives the entrepreneur the chance to excel in an open market, and lets brands on the marketing and communications side find new ways to connect directly with the consumer. One of the traditional stand-by's has always been the printed newspaper. Even with the late adaptions that many have had with blogs, accompanying video and long form pieces online, the idea of the daily hard copy of a newspaper was one that brands knew could always reach a core group of casual consumers, especially in the sports marketplace. Hard copies are what many brands always looked for. However as dollars become more scant, production costs rise and information becomes distributed in various new media, especially on the electronic side, the local mass market newspaper seems to be dying very quickly. In the last 10 days the Rocky Mountain News is closing (Friday), the New Haven Register, Philly Inquirer, and Daily News and Minneapolis Star Tribune went chapter 11, and the San Francisco Chronicle and the Seattle Post Intelligencer are having major issues financially. So what does that mean to the marketer and the communicato. Innovate and address the places where your fans and partners go to find their news, and develop those partnerships while creating new ones. Mark Cuban on his blog recently listed some ways to aid the newspaper business, working with satellite and cable services. Many organizations have taken to making their site the place where their core fan can go for detailed information, but even others are now using their site as a place to break news which normally would have gone to “mainstream” outlets. Does this mean that all dailies will become a thing of the pas. No. The need for the hard copy still exists and the smart brands will augment, with many even now sharing content. However as the newspaper world re-defines itself it is VERY important for those looking to reach the consumer and gain marketplace be aware of what the new opportunities are to maintain relevance, get exposure and grow return. Some key ideas:
1- Local is Local: People still look to local newspapers for news in their community. If there is a story that has local relevance, don’t slight the coverage one can get there and its home online as well. The same goes for non-English publications and ethnic outlets in print and online. Merchandising that coverage through hotlinks and viral emails is also important. A good story placed is a good story placed.
2- Blogs: While major sports organizations find ways to deal with the numbers of potential blog coverage and regulation, the days of thinking blogs are not credible news sources that reach the consumer and can grow brands are over. Embrace the key blogs, who may have the new era of journalist writing for them, set policy like one would for any media outlet, and give those who are looking to cover the team or brand or athlete and tell the story the chance to do it. It is not dissimilar to when sports radio started. There was pushback, but eventually the brands figured out how to work together to grow.
3- Check the colleges: Another key to distribution that are often overalloked are college radio, print and now even TV and digital. The young journalists there are smart, eager to learn and would be willing to probably help tell the story you are looking to tell, especially to a young audience.
4- Radio: From the traditional to digital to podcasting, the sound of the spoken voice and the ability to have audio tell the story is still very important, and the ability to push audio content to key decision makers is growing in importance. Somehow many have forgotten audio as a driver, but now it has a wide impact and again can be very effective.
5- Sports 3.0: From twitter to short form video to chat rooms and interactivity, there is any number of ways to learn more about distribution of good stories. Will all work and be effective for an athlete, team or bran. No. but having a casual working knowledge of what is out there, what is cost effective and what others are doing, and finding ways to adapt that technology is also a key part of the plan.
As a lover of the good printed word, I hope the newspaper industry resurrects itself and quickly. However regardless, growing and embracing that which we did not understand and finding new media outlets among “new media,” and then merchandising those ideas, is even more important.
Some other good reads…another piece worth reading on the topic is Newsday's decision to start charging for online content, and the reasons why…Media Post has a great Twitter guide for b to b…and Marketing Daily has a good promotional campaign Quizno's is doing to grow their brand.