Oops…I Just Lost My Local Newspaper
It’s almost like hitting the delete button on your computer. One second it’s here, and the next it’s gone. That’s how fast local newspapers across the United States are evaporating into thin air.
Here’s the latest scorecard for the major players who have either already filed for bankruptcy or continue to face financial woes.
New York Times & Daily News
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Chicago Sun Times & Chicago Tribune
The Detroit News
San Francisco Chronicle
Philadelphia Daily News & Inquirer
Rocky Mountain News
Seattle Post Intelligencer
The Boston Globe
So what went wrong? Do we really need to discuss the obvious reasons?
classified dollars go to the Internet
the spiraling costs of home delivery
diminishing interest in the printed word among the younger demos
giant overhead expenses
You know the story. Yet newspapers still generate giant gross revenues compared to other local media forms. They still have strong brands, and according to most research, people still believe that the printed word has more credibility than the broadcast word. But local newspapers are dropping like flies. I think there is more to it than the obvious.
I would like to suggest that newspapers forgot what business they were in. Let’s go back in time and recall the original premise for a newspaper. Here it is: Current, and up to date information. That is correct. The original newspaper brand promise was “we will deliver you up to the minute breaking news that is accurate, in-depth, and complete.” But once the press found out that their product could be sourced out on a computer screen, they went into the deep freeze of brand management.
Instead of using the Internet and/or other media forms to deliver “up to the minute in-depth information”, they just recreated their newspapers on the Internet. Worse yet…they gave it away for FREE!!! What the fu##??? Give it away for free?
If instead they had worked hard to use the Internet, texting, twittering, and ANY form of media (including radio and TV) to provide the hands down most up to the minute, in-depth information in the market, they would still be in business.
But no…they decided to just duplicate their valuable product in electronic form and give it away for free. They panicked and thought the Internet was their enemy and not a competitive advantage that could leverage their brand. They thought about the object and not the consumer benefit.
Need proof? Let’s take a look at the latest marketing campaign from the Miami Herald.
What marketing genius came up with this non-relevant campaign? First, this campaign has nothing to do with consumer benefits. I don’t really give a damn if the Miami Herald weathers the economic storm. I want up-to-date news information that is the best in my local market.
Second, the positioning line (Then, Now, and Always) has nothing to do with a consumer benefit other than an empty promise that the Miami Herald is not going out of business. What does that have to do with up-to-date news information? Nothing!!
And finally, where’s the proof in this spot that the Herald is going to deliver important information to me faster, better, and more accurately than what I can get for FREE? Stop the presses and roll the credits. The Miami Herald is going to be toast if they continue to spend money on this nonsense.
Want more proof of a completely lost Miami Herald brand promise? Take a look at this current TV spot.
Clueless, utterly clueless. Tell me about breaking news information. Talk to me about comprehensive local coverage. Show me how I can get this information through multiple media sources, and then WOW me with superior writing and reporting that I should be willing to pay for.
I really don’t care if the Miami Herald is there “Then, Now, and Always.” That sounds like something that should be on a Valentine’s Day card. All I care about is fast, accurate, and easily accessible news information. Not just an electronic duplicate of the Herald on line, but instead a state-of-the-art multimedia platform that I can take with me everywhere.
“Fast, Accurate, and Immediate…The Miami Herald.” Does that work? I think so. Now they just have to deliver on the brand promise.