A Concrete Investment in a Soft Economy

Newspapers are dying or dead. That’s what any reasonable person would think with major metro dailies shutting down and the vaunted New York Times slashing jobs and reducing salaries.

Yet not all newsprint is headed toward obsolescence. Community newspapers continue to thrive as a vehicle for local news and small businesses that want to target local customers with affordable advertising.

And one unemployed man in Concrete, Washington, a small town in the Skagit Valley, is raising $10,000 to revive the Concrete Herald, a community newspaper that began in 1929 and continued publishing until 1991.

I read about Jason Miller and his quest in Marketing, a Seattle-area trade newpaper. Larry Coffman, publisher of Marketing and a longtime friend, spotted Miller’s story in The Seattle Times. “There are community newspapers, which are thriving like never before,” Larry wrote, “because people in this Internet-crazy age are hungry for local news packaged in a form they can’t get anywhere else.”

I hope Miller succeeds. Here’s his pitch for the “new” Concrete Herald.

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Seth Says: A Show Is Not a Story

My friend Aly Colón, a journalist turned global communications manager, sent me an item from Seth Godin’s blog on the excessive showmanship of Super Bowl ads.

“The lesson of these ads is simple,” Seth wrote. “Putting on a show is expensive, time-consuming and quite fun. And it rarely works.”

Here’s the marketing nugget from Seth:

“Marketing is telling a story that sticks, that spreads and that changes the way people act. The story you tell is far more important than the way you tell it. Don’t worry so much about being cool, and worry a lot more about resonating your story with my worldview. If you don’t have a story, then a great show isn’t going to help much.”

I’ll add this: You can’t tell much of a story in 30 seconds — even during the Super Bowl. A 30-second spot can only reinforce the story you’re telling across all media and channels.

Related:

2009 Super Bowl Ads Were Super Duds

Two Fatal Mistakes of Newspaper Industry

Paul Gillin, a consultant who specializes in community journalism and social media, recently penned an instructive column in BtoB on the demise of major metro dailies and other newspapers:

Learn from newspapers’ mistakes

The first mistake was the “failure to respond to changing media consumption patterns.”

“The best response would have been for newspapers to localize their products,” writes Gillin. “Instead, they consolidated.”

(Note: Some tried. The Seattle Times Company, a longtime client of mine until 2007, experimented heavily with zoned editions and tried to enhance local content.)

“The industry’s second mistake was failing to see the implications of new technology,” adds Gillin. “What executives didn’t foresee was that technology would democratize media.”

Gillin calls democratization the dominant trend in media for many years to come. Brand will matter; delivery channels will be less important.