The majority of us operating community newspapers have built our operations to support the area businesses that are the life blood of our community. We celebrate their successes and are concerned for their setbacks.
We are constantly having conversations with business owners and managers about the best and most efficient ways to market themselves. Who within our own operations is taking the time to think about how best we market ourselves? Or more importantly, who has time to ask and answer that question?
Many of us are not just operating a newspaper, we are operating a media company. Of course we have our print newspaper, but we also have a robust website, a total market coverage (TMC) paper, and in many cases, a magazine.
For many of us, we are expanding our media companies to include a suite of digital marketing services. When all our time and resources are focused on expanding our advertiser’s business, how do we move from physical newspaper to media company in our business community’s eyes?
I recently had the pleasure of traveling to Ole Miss to meet with Ann Day Becker and her campaigns class and pose that very question. Her campaigns class is the capstone course of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media’s Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) degree program.
The class has divided itself into several “ad agencies” and all of them have taken The Meridian Star on as a client. For the fall semester, Ms. Becker’s class will be focusing on developing marketing strategies for The Meridian Star, focused on the objective of improving how area businesses perceive us.
Since our question is applicable across the Mississippi Press Association, and arguably across the United States, we will be documenting the process throughout the semester. As we start this process, I don’t know if we will find the answer by the end of the semester, but I do feel confident in two things.
First, this group of young people will give us a fresh perspective we need. Second, by documenting our journey, it will lead to greater discussions and debates in more media company offices, which can be the catalyst to their future success.
This exercise is a collaboration of The Meridian Star, the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, and the MPA Education Foundation.
Alexander Gould, the author of this column, is publisher of The Meridian Star. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.orgTags: imc, The Meridian Star