Good in-paper content promotion isn't difficult
to accomplish. Here are five basic rules that can help every newspaper
create promotions that will connect with readers.
stuff readers want to read
That seems obvious, but newspapers are remarkably inconsistent about
this. So what things should newspapers promote?
topics that rank high on the Readership Institute's Opportunity
Scorecard. These are the topics the research has shown have the
greatest potential to grow readership. Promotion is the way you
alert readers that these stories are in the newspaper.
that appeal to target audiences. Many newspapers are trying to
reach specific audience segments, based on their own proprietary
research. If that's what you are doing, consistently promote content
that appeals to those segments.
items. Community announcements are at the top of the opportunity
list. Think small. Promote the presence of school bus schedules,
event schedules, honor rolls and other utility items that are
important to readers and don't appear in the newspaper on a regular
good reads that have drama, conflict, human interest, especially
when they involve ordinary local people.
NOT promote the obvious. Far too many content promotions are devoted
to standing features and routine coverage. Stuff like: "Read
Dear Abby daily in the Eagle." Or routine coverage:
"Basketball update. See Sports." (We didn't make that
up to prove a point. We copied that promotion directly from the
rail of a newspaper sitting on our desk.)
Why do consumer product companies advertise? To sell their products,
of course. In-paper content promotion, whether it is a house ad or
a skybox, is advertising. Treat it that way. Use headlines that sell;
short, pithy text; and eye-appealing pictures. Follow the key rules
of advertising: Keep it simple and clear. Emphasize the practical,
utilitarian aspects of the story that readers can identify with. Give
your promotions prominence, presence and flair. Too many newspaper
promotions are limp or uninformative.
The more specific the promotion, the more impact it has on readers.
Not just "Food section Thursday," but "World's best
brownie recipe." Not "More Nation-World News, Page B8,"
but "5 killed in Gaza violence." Include page numbers. Many
newspaper skyboxes or rails promote stories and only indicate the
section the story is in, such as Sports or Living. Readers don't want
to hunt; tell them the page number, too.
on existing space
Do a simple audit of your promotions. Count up all the house ads,
skyboxes and other in-paper promotion you do in one week, and analyze
what is in them. Can you use the space better? One example of poor
use of space we often use in seminars is the newspaper that used the
very same house ad in three different sizes on the same page. Don't
think of promotions as filler, think of them as marketing opportunities.
promotion a routine part of the daily process, not an added task that
can be skipped when time runs short
If content promotion is an add-on, it won't be done consistently,
and consistency is a key element to improving reader satisfaction.
It has to be part of the daily process.