Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The information wave

Last year, The New York Times reported a 9 percent drop in circulation among the 25 largest newspapers in the nation. Some individuals newspapers saw a decrease of over 20 percent in their weekly subscriptions. At my own newspaper, circulation decreased dramatically, dropping from around 60,000 on a weekday to 48,000. Sunday circulation saw a smaller decrease, but still substantial.

Howard Owens poses the question: well, what about readership?

For so long, readership has been considered to be at least 2.5 people per newspaper. For so long, it made sense. A husband and wife exchanging the paper in the morning, a waiting room full of individuals looking for something to do, an office break room full of coworkers at lunchtime - the presence of a newspaper in any of these scenarios would raise the readership rate by a significant amount. But would we still find these results today?

A husband and wife now have individual smartphones or laptops and can navigate and browse hundreds of articles within minutes while still sitting together at the kitchen table. What do most people in waiting rooms do to pass the time? Send emails on their Blackberrys and play games on their phones. And in an office break room? They're reading the news or checking Facebook on their tablets or smartphones.

But that's what's so interesting about this whole shift in print media. While some would have you believe that print is dying and people don't care about news, it is evident that people still crave information. However, now we get to choose what information to receive.

If we want hyperlocal information, we know that a local newspaper is the best source. If we want information about our friends, Facebook will be our first stop. If we want information about our country, a Google search will turn up everything we could ever want to know. Not to mention Wikipedia, IMDb, WolframAlpha, iTunes and the millions of other references that can turn an idea or a memory into a realization.

So people are turning their backs on a paper product - so what? That doesn't have to result in lost revenue. Once we fully embrace the evolution of print to digital media, we'll come out of it with revenue lining our pockets and everyone wanting a piece of the pie.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Firsts

Apparently, this Christmas was a record-breaker.

For the first time ever, Facebook was #1 on Christmas. On both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Facebook was the most visited website in the United States, beating out both Google and Yahoo, Facebook's frequent competitors. Why Facebook on Christmas? Wishing family members and longtime friends a Merry Christmas, perhaps? Sending messages to find out what kind of sweet presents your roommates got that you can use next semester? Extra time to spend chatting with your best friends? Whatever it is, we know Facebook has worked hard for this moment. Maybe they'll surprise us again in 2010.

Also for the first time ever, Amazon sold more Kindle books than printed books on Christmas. While many people may have received Kindles for Christmas and needed to stock up, it's still a milestone for the Kindle due to the sheer volume of purchases and its increased presence within our society. Much like the younger generation's tendency to flock toward online news rather than print, perhaps we really will start to see the same trend with books in the coming years.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A gate provider's delight

On Monday, the New York City Council decided to ban the use of opaque storefront gates in favor of eliminating graffiti and beautifying city neighborhoods. However, the Council is not supplying funds for new see-through gates, laying the responsibility on store owners to carry out the legislation.

The ban will officially go into effect in 2026, a whopping 17 years from now. I suppose they figure that it will take that long for some of New York City's store owners to save up for a new gate. New meshed security gates can cost thousands of dollars, which is a lot of money for inner city store owners who are already struggling to protect their money and keep their businesses afloat.

And while this is a very bad thing for business owners, it's a very good thing for local gate providers and locksmiths.

With all new storefront gate installations required to be mesh after 2011, the storefront security gate industry will certainly spike overnight. The demand for mesh gates will rise and since currently there are not a significant amount of providers, the costs of gates will skyrocket, making them even more unreachable for small business owners. In an economy as tight as it is now, this law is sending local small businesses into a downward spiral.

Is the elimination of residential expression worth the demise of local economic stimuli?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Giving newspapers my advice

When I become a publisher, my game plan will be this.

Full disclosure, readers filling in the blanks, full audience participation, community support, inventive stories - all are essential to a current successful news organ. We need to reinvent the way we deliver news at the same rate that people change the way they consume news. And right now, we're falling quite short.

Another tidbit from Journerdism: Stop giving the newspapers your advice - they don't need it.

Oops... :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The world according to Landy

I'm back from hiatus and ready to hit the ground running!

With nearly six months of sales experience under my belt at this point, I realized today that I don't know any more now than I did when I first started. I've been flying by the seat of my pants and selling advertising, but I've been going about it all wrong. I've been performing the act but not understanding the process. Now I'm set on going back to the beginning and rebuilding myself to do my job the most efficient and satisfying way possible. I want to make what I do less of a performance and more of a service.

I heard the powerful words of Landy Chase this afternoon, and I feel compelled to share some of his groundbreaking ideas on the art of sales.

1. Your main goal should be helping your customer get desired results, not obtaining a certain amount of revenue. Don't wait until the last few days of the month to try to push for those last $300. Slow and steady wins the race, and the more your customer trusts you, the more likely he is to invest with you.

2. The word spend should be erased from every salesperson's vocabulary. If we're asking our customers to spend their money, that amount is automatically seen in a negative context. We need to focus on the customer's investment so that they can be sure to gain from the relationship, not lose. Perform a needs analysis to establish the best way to help the customer get results. In that way, the focus is taken off of a one-visit sale and made into forming a long-term relationship and marketing plan with your customer.

3. Branding and name recognition are vital to businesses, especially those offering services. Your customers shouldn't buy advertising to get the phone to ring tomorrow. They should buy advertising so that when people decide they need something, whether it's next week or next year, your customer's business is the first place they think of, again reaffirming the necessity of long-term investments.

A final thought:
Since I entered into the realm of sales, I've realized that all salespeople feel that they share a certain bond. "You're in sales? Oh, me too!" It's a product of the tough environment that we face that we feel the need to reassure each other and lend a helping hand if possible. However, I've also noticed that newspaper sales strategies vary greatly from the strategies of retail or other businesses. For many businesses, the bottom line is more important than the customer. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. But I can tell you that I enjoy what I do much more when I do it for my customers and my community rather than for myself.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Whoa there, pardner

After a veto by Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, the Tennessee General Assembly is voting to override his decision in order to pass a law that will allow guns to be carried in restaurants (and bars) that serve alcohol, according to AP.

My question: why would you need to carry a gun into a restaurant anyway? What sort of violence or danger or threat to your safety do you expect to encounter? Maybe restaurants in Tennessee are shadier than ones in Georgia, but rarely do I ever feel endangered when I go out to get a bite at Chili's.

I picture the results of this sort of like an Old Western. Men piling into bars, pistols slung on their waists and engaging in competitions of who's got the bigger gun. I can practically see the saloon doors swinging.

Do I think people are going to die because of this law? Not necessarily. But I do think that the obvious presence of guns in public places sends out a message of paranoia and distrust in a time when we need to be joining hands.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In the Year 3000...

I think Conan's right on the money about this one:

YouTwitFace is gonna rock!