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The New York Press Association will soon launch an advertising and public relations campaign “to combat the doom and gloom swirling around the newspaper industry and to position community newspapers as a strong, growing medium.”
“No medium delivers the loyal, local, repeat audience delivered by New York’s community newspapers and their affiliated Web sites,” NYPA Executive Director Michelle Rea said in an e-mail inviting publishers to preview the campaign in the deluxe Downtown Brooklyn offices of NewsCorp’s Community Newspaper Group.
The news business can benefit from bold promotions, and the NYPA and Ms. Rea — often wise and always well-meaning — merit our applause for their efforts.
The campaign, which plans to launch on March 1, will have professional luster and reach. Ms. Rea says NYPA’s 800 or so member newspapers will be asked to run the ads, which will also be used in a “four-week transit campaign with railroad platform posters and transit in-car cards on the LIRR, MetroNorth, Amtrak; subway platform posters in Queens and Brooklyn, in-station kiosks, and bus exteriors in Upstate cities” She said that a follow-up phase will include mobile billboards and radio.
A great mix, as long as it goes beyond the doctored numbers and wishful thinking currently displayed on the NYPA’s Web site.
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The industry’s magic bullet might not be porn, as suggested in Jonathan Mann’s satirical short, “Saving Newspapers, The Musical” (although it is an embarrassing fact that quite a few newspapers on the industry’s margins — including some NYPA memvbers — have come to depend on ads with headlines like “Horny Local Girls,” “Nasty Girls” and “Heavenly Touch” for essential cash flow).
But in any event, salvation will not be brought about through continued self-delusion wrapped in ridiculous assertions and easily discounted vapor-stats.
So, as we anticipate next month’s NYPA ads — produced by the NYPA with Korey Kay & Parners and PR man Nicholas Lence — let’s glance at the “homemade” ads currently on the NYPA Web site.
Some of these ads are so over-the-top and shockingly bad that I found my point-by-point critiques of them simply belabored the obvious and therefore removed them from this post.
Instead, I encourage you to consider them on your own. If you think the questionably attributed statistics in these ads meet the promotional smell and, more importantly, if you believe these ads, I have a homework assignment for you: Engage in a 10 minute daily reality check by following the RSS feeds on the right side of this page, linking to blogs Romenesko, Newsosaur, Jeff Jarvis, and more.
(Please remember, though, that these are not the ads created for the upcoming campaign. Hope does spring eternal.)
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There is some concern that the NYPA campaign will not aggressively address the migration of the “newspaper business” onto the Web. This would be a costly omission.
Publishers need to acknowledge what everyone else knows: the print end of the business will, in most cases, go away. Newspapers — most of them — are the walking dead.
So … when publishers promote the benefits remaining in print, they need to also promote the benefits offered by their businesses’ online and multi-media products.
As Michelle Rea put it in her memo, “No medium delivers the loyal, local, repeat audience delivered by New York’s community newspapers and their affiliated Web sites” (emphasis added).
If publishers have nothing of value to peddle online, that’s another story — and the crux of a crisis facing the news industry today. —Ed Weintrob