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Note to Sub Pub Club

Posted on Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 2:01 pm

In addition to our own weeklies and small daily, D-R Media/Sun Publications prints sixty other publishers over the course of a month.  One of my great pleasures is visiting with those publishers. Each visit recharges my batteries. It is amazing how many creative ways publishers are experimenting with adding value.

In this newsletter, I am going to focus on how folks are adding value with email and video.  I want to start with Miami Community Newspapers and Michael Miller.

Miami Community Newspapers publishes nine papers every other week and two monthlies.  They are glossy on the outside and newsprint on the inside.

What Michael Miller and his brother have done in email and video is pretty amazing.  They have 800,000 email subscribers to their various newspaper email newsletters.  They use those newsletters to reinforce, not replace, their print brand and add value to advertisers and readers.

They also are doing a lot in video.  Almost every day, they create a video.  It could be about an advertiser (paid), or it could be a thirty-minute video about a community issue.

They then “broadcast” that video via their print product, their email list, their website, and then Facebook.  They bring up Facebook distribution last because everyone thinks they can do Facebook.  They ask the subject of their video to share it with the subject’s Facebook friends and the subject’s email list.

Last week Michael had over 70,000 video views.  They have virtual watch parties and generally “rebroadcast” three or four times, so the casual interactor with the Miami Community Newspaper is more likely to see the video.

Michael Miller’s success with video made me ask myself, why don’t I do video testimonials of successful customers?  They could be on my website, and we could use them as email follow-ups or introductions.  Of course, we would turn them into a print testimonial as well

On the other end of the spectrum is Justo Rey with the Key Biscayne Islander News.  Justo has a few thousand circulation with a mix of paid and free.  Yet Justo has an email list of 6,000 which he emails twice every day.  Once in the morning in English. Once in the afternoon in Spanish.  Usually, a couple of news stories but no more than four stories in any daily mailing.

One feature of Justo’s emailing that I particularly like is his focus on helping local restaurants. For just $35, he will feature that restaurant’s daily specials or offers. The post goes on the newspaper’s website every morning, promoted on Islander News’ social media channels, and featured on the morning issue of the daily email newsletter.  $35 is a bargain, but right now, local restaurants are hurting, and Justo wants to be there to help.

Diane Kortus, with The Laker/Lutz News in suburban Tampa, has yet another email model. Her staff creates a monthly newsletter for members of the newspaper’s readerSHIP club, who are the paper’s most ardent fans and community cheerleaders. Club members get a personal letter and swag when they join, and will be invited to VIP social gatherings when it’s safe to get together again.

The monthly newsletter keeps members engaged with short stories and photos about members that are fun to read, a personal employee profile, and a note from Diane with links to her favorite stories of the month. It takes about four hours to put the newsletter together, and has become a great way to connect with fans of the paper who create word-of-mouth buzz about its social and economic value to the community.

Diane has wanted to start a reader’s club for many years, and because of the slower pace during these COVID days, has finally had time to focus on things like this that have never floated to the top before.

Folks are gaining some ad ground with COIVD related special sections or COVID guardian of the week – sponsored.  D-R Media is doing a Chronicles of COVID, which we think will be about 56 broadsheet pages chronicling the first six months of COVID in our markets.  We will do about $50,000 in ad revenue, plus we used our $10,000 Google grant to make this work. It won’t be a big money maker. We did this section because we think it is part of our mission.

We’ve had a few growing pains with our printing plant as we’ve grown our business. I apologize if you have felt those growing pains.   We just hired the former overall production director at the Tampa Tribune, Buddy Kerr, to our team to help us focus on systems and processes.   Before that, we hired the production director for Naples Daily News/Ft. Myers News Press, Jim Zajas, to have overall responsibility for the team.  We want to be the highest quality easiest to do business with newspaper production facility in the state.

David Dunn-Rankin