Monday, July 29, 2013

Learn from The Newspaper Entrepreneurs

The audience for newspaper readers has been in decline for years. Last year I moved to Orange County, California after eight years in Arizona. 

In Arizona, I took the Arizona Republic. One rare day in the desert, it rained and I called the Republic for a replacement paper. The customer service person explained, “We let our replacement team go several months ago. We can either bring a replacement tomorrow or credit your account.” I was not interested in receiving today's newspaper tomorrow.

This week my Sunday newspaper didn't show up so I called the Orange County Register customer service department. They promised that I would have a replacement newspaper within the hour. Indeed, I had it. Also they promised to call me and check to see if I got the replacement newspaper. Later that morning, they called and I reported that I had my newspaper and thanked them. What a different customer service experience.

Last Friday I learned why my local paper is expanding it's coverage and customer service—plus the newspaper is growing in circulation. As I've read this newspaper for a year, I've noticed new sections of the paper and new magazines. As this article validated the numbers

3: New daily newspapers including The Current in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, the Irvine World News and the Long Beach Register (launches Aug. 19)

25: Expanded broadsheet weeklies

22: New stand-alone sections, which include a daily Business section, Faith & Values, Fashion, OC Family, Food, Go+Do, Movies, Wheels, Celebrations, OC Varsity twice-weekly sports sections and OC Varsity Arts

3: New magazines including OC Register Metro, OC Register Family and OC Register Magazine

350: New employees, of whom 175 are in the newsroom (my emphasis)

71 percent: Increase in daily content from May 2012 to May 2013

162 percent: Increase in weekly community content from May 2012 to May 2013

25: Average increase in pages daily”

Ironically I noticed both of the new owners are not from the newspaper industry. Each made their careers outside of the newsroom—yet they and other investors have invested in the local newspaper business.

As a writer and communicator, I've seen the merits of marching to a different drum some times and pitching innovative ideas. Sometimes you fail when you try something new. Yet sometimes with these risks you break out and do something that becomes a bestseller.

Are you striking out into some new directions to see if the door of opportunity will open for you? I hope through a careful reading of this article, you can see some valuable lessons for your own writing life. 

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