The Newspaper Industry, Continued

Michael Grimaldi

Michael Grimaldi

In the marketing communications channels that include owned (your website or brochure), social (Facebook and Twitter), paid (advertising) and earned (news coverage), the general-circulation newspaper remains a choice in each of the latter two categories.

Although many say the newspaper is a dying medium, new evidence has emerged, as we hypothesized last summer, that it’s too early to plan a funeral for the business.

Three things:

No. 1: It’s clear, as previously reported, that wealthy investors find traditional newspapers to be undervalued assets and attractive investments. The latest indication of this bellwether – the speculated interest of the Koch brothers of Wichita in the Chicago Tribune and other papers – was reported by The New York Times in a Page 1 Sunday story.

No. 2: One investor new to the game, Warren Buffett, is figuring out how to help newspapers survive. Two journalists dug into Buffett’s numbers to see how he does it. (Short version: Buy small, manage smart and keep a good balance between online and legacy print subscribers.)

No. 3: Circulation revenue rose in 2012 for the first annual gain in nearly a decade. This happened, of course, because the newspaper industry “has begun to adapt its business model to a new era” as subscribers consume “newspaper content” on tablets and smartphones, and advertisers find them there.

Newspapers need to be thought of – by their owners, journalists, advertisers and readers – as newsgathering organizations that deliver intellectual content to readers, not as factories that deliver a printed document to doorsteps.

The newspaper has always been a total package of paid and earned information, valued by readers for both. When weighing options for marketing, public relations or advertising investments, remember what Warren Buffett and other investors are saying with their dollars: Newspapers again are providing a total environment for your message.

— Michael Grimaldi, senior communications consultant

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