For sale: Shiny, new marketing campaigns

1970s Radio Flyer ad -- Photo courtesy of

How long are you allowed to say something is new?

The Dallas Morning News launched its e-edition in October. The website flashes several ads at readers, all shouting NEW! And rightfully so; it’s less than two months old.

106.1 KISS-FM, on the other hand, is a good example of old-turned-new-in-30-seconds-or-less advertising (thanks @garrettwinder for the suggestion).

“The NEW KISS-FM. It sounds exactly like the old KISS-FM, but that didn’t have the same ring to it, so we’ll pretend we’re playing different music and airing different morning shows and running different promotions, when actually, they’re all the same as they were yesterday.”

Actually, radio stations in general tend to repackage themselves frequently in an attempt to maintain a perpetual state of freshness — in reality, a state that’s impossible to maintain. “New” is sprinkled in real estate and automotive ads like poppy seeds on Starbucks muffins.

Is it false advertising? Are we as marketers being misleading? Or should it ultimately be the consumer’s responsibility to do their research? At what point does a marketing practice become so cliche no reasonable person would fall for it?

Is that the point?

Is creating a culture that subscribes to the gospel of “new” is a good thing? If an increase in profit in the fourth quarter is the goal, then probably. But how do you develop a community around a product if you’re always leaving the old project for the next big thing? What if the old big thing is what works? Whatever happened to patience? Isn’t that one of those virtue things?

And what’s wrong with old? A lot of old things add incredible value to society. I’m thinking the Constitution and indoor plumbing, for starters. Or the good-ol’ provide value to your customers trick.

I know this post is full of questions. You probably learned how to strike a healthy balance between old and new a long time ago. But if you’re like me, you’re still trying to figure out when to stick with what works, when to jump on the bandwagon behind a new product, or when to lead the charge in a different direction. I’m hoping there’s a middle ground somewhere.

What do you think? Is there a happy medium? What have you discovered so far?

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FAQ #?

I know this is FAQ #8 but it’s been so long, I’d forgotten. Let’s chalk it up to my high opinion of our e-edition readers’ skills. It has absolutely nothing to do with negligence on my part. Right…

Whatever the reason, I want to share with you a new(er) feature available on the e-edition that I think has been overlooked. *drum roll* Subscribers, you now have an “e-book” option. Hooray!

If you’re cheering, great. If you’re staring blankly, don’t worry. I’m about to explain exactly what an e-book is and how you can take advantage of it.

An e-book is a digital version of an actual book that you can download to a mobile device, Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, iPhone or PC. Magazines, newspapers and other printed materials also come in an e-book format, including the e-edition – which is a bit ironic, since it’s already in digital form.

With the e-edition, you have the ability to download any issue from the last seven days, although the steps are slightly different depending on what device you’re using to download. I’m going to include the steps for smartphones and those for iPhones, specifically. Each available format has a help link next to it with downloading instructions.

To begin, click the e-book link in the e-edition header.

The third link under the search box.

The third link under the search box.

That will bring you to a page listing all the digital formats available for download.

Links to instructions and e-books.

Links to instructions and e-books.

For smartphones:

Step 1. You’ll need to download Mobipocket, available for several devices. Follow the instructions on the website to download. An e-book directory should be created automatically after you’re done installing, which is where you’ll save your e-book issues.

Step 2. Once you have your digital reader installed, go back to the e-book page and select the “e-book” link next to “Mobile Device.” You may have to log-in using your regular username and password.

Step 3. At that point, you’ll see a list of all the issues available to download. Choose the one you want and save it to that e-book directory I mentioned earlier.

***Blackberry users, make sure the file name ends with “.mobi” You may have to rename the file.

Step 4. Open Mobipocket and look for the e-edition in your list of e-books.

Step 5. Read. Unless you did this just to prove how cool your smartphone is and how technologically savvy you are. In that case, carry it around with and show people your massive unread library of e-books.

For iPhone/iPod:

Step 1. Download an e-book reader from the App Store. We recommend Stanza, because it’s good and it’s free.

Stanza Library - Online Catalog

Stanza Library - Online Catalog

Step 2. Go to the Stanza library and select “Online Catalog.”


Step 3. Hit the + in the lower right-hand corner and choose “Add Web Page.”

Step 4. Create a name, such as ARN e-edition, and enter the following URL: http://eedition. php. Save it.

making spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacemaking spacem k Step 5. Go back to the online catalog and choose the web page you just created. You’ll be taken to the main e-book page where you can then select iPhone/iPod. A list of issues available for download will come up. Choose one and select download when prompted.

Step 6. To read, go to your Stanza library and open the issue you downloaded.

What’s the point?

You might have a screaming Internet connection on your phone, but for those of us who live in the real world, it can take a while for the e-edition to load if you’re viewing it in your mobile browser. And if stop reading in the middle, thinking you’ll come back and finish later? Forget about it. It’ll have to load all over again.

With an e-book, you only have to download once, and then it’s in your library for all eternity… or until you delete it. But, the point is, it’s there, and you can go back as many times as you like and read at your leisure. It’ll even hold your place for you if you need to go back to the home screen for some reason. You know, like if your boss comes in and tells you to quit reading the paper and get back to work.

So, that’s your FAQ of the month, er… week. Come back next week for another scintillating installment of Frequently Asked Questions. Same time (maybe), same place (definitely). Be here.

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FAQ #7

As a follow-up to last week’s FAQ, this week we’re going to cover a slightly more advanced search tool in the e-edition repertoire. The e-notify feature works like a regular search, but instead of logging in to the e-edition every day–I wish you were, but I know silly things like a job get in the way–you can enter your search terms and email address and e-notify will notify(!) you when those terms appear in the paper.

You’ll receive an email with links to each of the articles containing that word. It looks essentially like the list of search results that would appear if you were to search manually. The difference is this saves you time by doing it for you. Plus, if you don’t have time to read those articles that day, you can save the email for later.

E-notify is very easy to set up. It takes 3 (and a half) steps.

1. Click E-NOTIFY in the top toolbar, just to the right of the Reporter-News logo. You should see this e-notify screen come up in the left panel.

2. Enter your email address and your search term(s) and click Test.

A new window will pop up with a list of articles containing your search term. This lets you know your search is working. If it doesn’t bring up anything and you think it should have, try changing your terms. If you need help, click Help! to get tips on improving your search. (That was the half step, if anyone’s counting).

3. Check both boxes, unless you’re not over 13, and then don’t check that one, because that would be dishonest. If you are the appropriate age and you do agree to the terms, check the boxes and click Activate.

At that point, an email will be sent to the address you provided asking you to confirm your e-notify request. If you don’t get one, check your Spam folder. Once you get the email, click on the link provided to complete the “activation process.”

And that’s it!

You are now an official e-notify-ee. Emails should start arriving soon. If they don’t, make sure your account says Active under your current status. If it says Active, Waiting for Confirmation, the activation link in the email has not been clicked. Find it, and try it again. Othwerwise, it’s a time-saving piece of cake.

Hope that’s helpful. See you next week, same time, same channel.

Categories: FAQ Tags: , ,

FAQ #6

I love the ironic situations created when well-established companies have their names co-opted by Texting-ese. Case in point, BRB Trucking. Of course, whether that inspires confidence or not is open to interpretation, but the point is, what you call something can be the difference between success and miserable failure (as in the famous, albeit fictional tale of the Chevy Nova).

That’s why I’m a huge fan of search functions. “Search” says it all. It conjures up images of treasure hunters or research librarians, combing the pages of old, dusty tomes… OK, maybe not. But it does make my day a little brighter when I land on the homepage of some massive government site, and instead of sifting through pages of data one at a time, I type my request into that innocuous little box at the top and voila! There they are. 150 articles containing your search term. Beautiful.

Being the Google ninja that I am, I have come to rely heavily on search tools, but there’s always been something missing. Haven’t you ever been reading a book and wished you could search for that one sentence you know you read three chapters back and forgot to mark? Or thought a word was overused and wanted to actually count the number of times the author used it, just for grins?

You get the idea.

The first feature I always show people when I demo the e-edition is the “Search” function. I can type in any term and get links to all the articles in today’s paper in which the term is found. Most of our subscribers know about this feature. Slightly less well-known is the “Advanced Search” feature that actually lets you search the last 30 days of back issues. At long last, we’ve arrived at what we’re going to talk about today.

It’s quick n’ easy, but I want to make sure everyone knows how to use it, because it can be incredibly helpful when you’re wanting to go back and find an article you only dimly remember reading.

Step 1: Log in.
Step 2: Click on Advanced Search, found under the Search box in the navigation bar.

Step 3: In the pop-up window, enter your search term and the dates of the issues you want to search.

You can enter multiple terms and choose to search for all the words or “at least one word.” You can also choose what category of articles you’d like to search, such as editorials.

Step 4: Click Search, and every article within the specified dates that contains your search term will appear in the left panel. To read an article, click on it just as you normally would, and it will pop up in the right panel.

And you’re done! Remember, you can only access 30 days of back issues, but that’s usually plenty. I hope this was helpful, if for no other reason than you didn’t know this feature existed. Happy hunting, and I’ll see you all next week!

Categories: FAQ Tags: , ,

“Too Much For 140”

(Gotta love the fail whale).

This post has been a long time coming. Thanks to all my stalwart readers who keep checking in the hopes that I’ll have posted something both humorous and inspiring.

I apologize, but this most likely neither. Instead, it’s a quick (I hope) rundown of everything social media-ish the Reporter-News has been doing over the last few weeks and months. I can’t possibly fit it all into a tweet, and I don’t want to annoy people by flooding their news feeds with updates, so it wound up here. Forgive me if some of these are old news.

I suppose it’s only appropriate to start with @e_edition. That guy is good. Probably the best the ARN has ever seen (don’t tell @ReporterNews I said that). Seriously, aside from any talent or lack thereof, the various Twitter accounts at the paper (@ARNBizBuzz, @ARNrewards, @ARNjobs, @abilenemoms, etc.) are a pretty hefty milestone in our history. West Texas isn’t exactly famous for being high-tech or full of early adopters. We’re pretty proud of our efforts to buck that stereotype as we learn more every day how to better engage with the Abilene community.

Our e-edition Facebook fan page is alive and well, although it could handle some more content. We’re still working on ways to elicit content from our friends and fans, but I’m confident we’ll get there.

I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Reporter-News fan page, which launched last week, has nearly 50 fans and is already generating solid interaction with readers. People love their newspaper, and it’s ironic to me the medium that will be the alleged downfall of the printed word is emphasizing its popularity.

This blog, although still in its infant stage by most standards, has turned out to be not only a good time investment, but also really enjoyable. The newspaper industry is an exciting place to write. I’m either talking with people deeply invested in and passionate about it, or I’m given a chance to share my “life” (as much as a php site can have) and passion with someone who doesn’t know the first thing about newspapers.

Anyone worth their salt in social media will tell you perfection isn’t possible. Community isn’t something you can display in a trophy case. It’s something we have to work on every minute of every day. I’m thrilled to be able to say that’s exactly what we’re doing. Sometimes it’s nice to have too much for 140.

TV Spot

This video was actually created for the Abilene Business Expo in March. Darrin McBreen spent quite a bit of time putting this together, and in fact, does the voice-over for the ad. I thought his hard work deserved more than one day of attention, so here, for your viewing pleasure, is our very first e-edition TV spot.

“TV ad campaign for the Abilene Reporter News E-Edition newspaper. Created by Darrin McBreen.”

Reel Men Love Newspapers

Part of the charm of running a good-old-fashioned newspaper is not just the smell of paper and ink wafting throughout the building, but also the bona-fide printing press down the hall. Yes, all you doubting Thomases, in some places in the world, they print news on paper. If you’ve never seen a modern press, trust me, it’s awesome. It’s four floors tall and the paper reels it prints on are about 1800 pounds each. It takes three hours, a roomful of reels and a skilled reelman to print our newspaper (plus a lot of other people upstairs). And that’s if everything goes right.

Before Tuesday, however, I didn’t know any of that.

The ARN, being the only newspaper in town, gets a lot of press. (I’ll pause for the obligatory eye-roll). Teachers love to bring their classes through on tours, available year-round by appointment. Usually, our good friend and marketing manager, James, has the honor of escorting the horde of 7-year-olds around the building.

This week was different. The group that came in was on the oldish side, for field trips, at least. They were a group of Big Country high school students participating in a year-long leadership program. We were just one stop in a long day of visits to the media outlets in Abilene (all three of them). Also, James asked me to tag along and learn the tour so I can do it in the future. So, we met the kids in the lobby and off we went.

We looked at the old presses on display in the lobby, talked about the history of the paper, walked through some departments and eventually, made our way upstairs to the exciting part of the tour: printing the paper.

I’ve seen a tour before. Normally, we stand outside a glass wall and look inside at the machines, ooh, aah, next. Today, we ran into Ed. As I found out later, James already knew Ed, but I’d never seen him before, so I thought we just got lucky. Lucky, because Ed happens to work on the press, and he knows just about everything there is to know about printing a newspaper. Not only that, but he could let us into the famed glass-walled room. Not even James or I had been inside before. I was probably more excited than the kids were.

Anyway, Ed is a reel man rockstar. It was obvious as he wove his way through the maze of machines that he’s great at what he does because he loves it. He’s been in the newspaper business for years, and he told me he’s afraid, not of losing his job if the presses ever stop rolling, but that when they do, the art will be lost. And it is an art.

Ed’s friend, Larry, is in charge of “pasting” the rolls. Tens of thousands of newspapers won’t fit on one roll, so someone has to be ready with a new roll when the old one runs out. It requires expert timing to paste the old paper to the new just as the edge of it spins off the reel, and if you miss, everything grinds to a halt. Ed says Larry’s one of the best, and I believe it. He has all kinds of tricks for wrestling those giant reels onto the machines, and on top of that, he’s just a nice guy.

The point is, they’re both nice guys. They’re passionate about what they do, and they want to share it with anybody who will stand still and listen. Yeah, they have ink all over their hands and faces and clothes. They work until 2 or 3 a.m. every night. The work they do is hot and tiring. But it’s cool. And they know it.

What are we missing? Why can’t everybody be fired up like that? To be fair, being a reel man is unique. Some people don’t even know how to fold a newspaper anymore, much less explain how it’s made. It’s a novelty, for sure. But after years of the same work, I think the shine has probably worn off for Ed, just like any other job. I think the reason he loves his job is because he’s invested in it, his time and patience and sweat, and he’s proud of it.

So, the question is, are you proud of your work? Do you do everything to the best of your ability? Are you good at monotasking? If you’re not pouring your heart and soul into everything you do, just maybe the boring job isn’t the problem.

My challenge for tomorrow: try loving your job. See what happens.

(photo cred: wcm777)