By Scott Marshall
The other day, someone very close to me dropped a bombshell on me that actually rendered me speechless for a few moments – and those of you who know me, you know that this almost never happens! These words that were uttered to me were short and simple, but left such a profound impact on me that it left the wheels turning furiously in my head.
What were these words, you ask? The seven silent killers?
“Newspapers won’t be around in five years.”
My Dad and I were sitting around one night, just catching up on politics, recent happenings, and the ups and downs of life, when our conversation shifted to my career and how things were in the marketing world. At some point during the conversation, my Dad asked me where I saw myself being in my career in five years. For me, that answer was easy; I have dreams of being an Advertising Director for a newspaper, and though I may not be quite there in five years, I’d like to think that I’d at least be several steps closer. My Dad, who happens to know my passion for the newspaper industry, kind of scoffed (or perhaps he just had a piece of food stuck in his throat?!), and said “Newspapers won’t be around in five years.”
There. Right there. That was the bombshell. The pivotal moment in our conversation.
I sat there, speechless for a moment, trying to gather my thoughts and comeback to the all-too-frequent notion that the newspaper industry is a dying one. After pondering over his words for a few moments, I said to him, “Well, if I were running a newspaper, let me tell you what I would do to prevent that statement from becoming a reality.”
The truth is, there may be some truth to my Dad’s thoughts. You see, my Dad’s generation relied on newspapers to get their information. For them, there isn’t anything quite like sitting down in the morning with a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a good newspaper in hand. My generation, on the other hand, well, we’re a bit different. We want our news now, and in the most efficient manner possible. We want the most breaking news to be pushed to us on our smart phones, our iPads, our emails, and/or whatever the latest technology is. We’re very demanding, aren’t we?!
If the newspaper industry wants to “stay alive,” it really needs to keep up with the changing times. Social media and reader interaction and engagement are two concepts that newspapers will need to implement – and soon.
64% of information that is found online comes from some sort of newspaper source, whether it’s from the Associated Press, freelance journalists, or local newspapers. And, in many cases, the number one local site for any given city has been the newspaper’s website. Sadly, this has actually dropped in the last couple of years due to the increasing competition that newspapers find themselves in with other media outlets. With all the competition, the challenge for newspapers becomes how to make their site more cutting edge than all the others and how to get people talking about your site, referring their friends to your site?
We live in an opinionated world – hence, the phenomenon of Twitter. People like to be able to voice their opinions about the happenings of the world, so what better way to draw traffic to the newspaper’s site than by putting your readers to work. Allow them a “profile” page on your site, where they can set up preferences and settings than enable to see the content that matters to them most. Allow them to sort their news by section, topic or keyword. But now comes the money-maker: allow them to integrate their own social media sites.
Doing this will be beneficial to newspapers for two big reasons. First, chances are, your readers are going to be “reporting news” simply by updating their Facebook statuses and/or Twitters. Say, for example, Jane Doe posts a status that she’s frustrated with the unfair treatment of female employees at her job. Her status links to her profile on the newspaper’s website, so the editor sends one of his journalists out to investigate. The journalist uncovers years and years of sexual inequality and mistreatment, leading to a big story that technically, Jane Doe broke first. Give Jane credit on the newspaper website, and now she’s excited that she got to be a part of that story and the process of developing the story. When the story publishes on the website, Jane then uses her profile to link the story to her Facebook and Twitter. Her friends all see the story, and are drawn to the newspaper’s website. And with that, you have your second big win. By linking her story to her social media, Jane has just put the newspaper in front of 500 of her friends, who may share it with their friends, who may share it with their friends, and so on.
So while it may be true that one day, we may see a diminishing existence of physical newspapers the newspaper industry itself has the opportunity to be more relevant than ever! Newspapers just need to get creative on how to deliver the most breaking news in the most technologically savvy methods.
And that, Dad, is where I’ll be in five years.
If you have questions about your marketing campaign or would like one of our Executives to come and do a free consultation please fill out the form below.