PART B: BE BOLD
So now: What can newspapers do to lure readers back to print?
As our quiz last week suggested, after our 30-year honeymoon with computers, and 20 solid years on the Internet, people are getting tired of screens and starting to miss the newsprint experience. It’s time for newspapers to earn their way back into readers’ minds and pocketbooks. Here are some suggestions:
Fight for Your Paper
Everybody’s waiting for publishers to do something — to, in the first place, define the benefits of newspapers that computers can’t offer. If you run a newspaper, the time has come to get out there and tell readers: Our paper publishes the kind of stories in print that you can’t find on the Internet.
This means that the newsprint version will be different from the website version, so you have to believe in it. If you don’t think that newspapers are far ahead of the Internet in key ways, get outta the biz.
Create an Aggressive Ad Campaign
Billboards, cable TV, talk radio, buses, cabs and yes. computer banners are waiting for newspapers to re-stake their claim.
Run the most simple kind of ad:
*a giant photo of the morning newspaper invitingly spread out on a kitchen counter or desk, next to
*a cup of steaming coffee
*a blank computer screen.
*a headline like one of these:
GIVE YOUR EYES A BREAK
NO CLICKS, NO BANNERS, NO POP-UPS, NO NOISE
WE PUT IT ALL ON THE TABLE
YOUR WRISTS, YOUR EYES, YOUR BACK WILL THANK YOU
TAKE A MINI-VACATION EVERY MORNING
WE PAY PEOPLE TO BRING YOU THE WORLD AT A GLANCE
Get Your Executives Behind It
Start right now to train your executive management to place this campain on a person-to-person level. Get your PR department to book these top guys on the media and lecture circuit. You should join them and speak to groups ranging from Rotary to Wiccan, Unitarian to Morman, book clubs to fight clubs and every school and library in town. (Take the Freedom of Speech-in-jeopardy angle and you’re in.) Go on talk shows, start blogs, help with charities, sponsor events.
This old-fashioned passionate appeal 1) heightens morale, which is currently in the gutter because you’ve cut your staff to shreds and nobody knows who’ll be terminated next, and 2) it stops general readers from feeling sorry for newspapers as expendible dinosaurs and reestablishes high journalistic standards (and deliciously low entertainment values) that work best in newsprint and promise to enrich daily life. Continue reading