Calling All Storytellers: Be Captivating For Newspapers

Newspapers are a unique story.

As 2020 winds down, we all need to be more purposeful on how to tell it. This time of major change now upon us is a great opportunity for storytellers touting newspapers.
A couple of suggestions:

Avoid overdoing the challenges. Please, please don’t open with: “It was a dark and stormy night.”

The best icebreakers are often a memorable joke. But you also might want to skip the one that begins, “A psychologist, priest and publisher walk into a bar…”
Rather, talk from the heart about why newspaper are THE Community Forum and vital to a healthy Democracy. Explain why everyday is a vote for newspapers as well as the importance of supporting the keeper of facts and community context for the next generations.

We found reliable ingredients for storytellers at last week’s virtual ArkLaMiss Marketing and Audience Development Conference.

The program’s keynoter is an initiative and idea machine — Peter W. Wagner, founder and publisher of the N’West Iowa REVIEW.

He isn’t bashful either.

“Am I the only one…who believes in the future of the printed paper?” read one of his slides.

His presentations offered textbook lessons on what it takes to be a successful community newspaper and delivered 25-plus marketing and product victories.

Overall, Wagner asserted that successful papers inform, entertain, lead (this includes being a cheerleader when appropriate) and educate.

Newspapers also provide “Vitamin C” to the communities they serve: Consensus, Continuity, Commitment, Credibility and Cooperation.

For the master storyteller touting newspapers, Wagner listed specific chapters that build a compelling narrative. We’ll call them Relevant Points:

  • *The paper’s connection to the community.
  • *Demographics (about the readers you reach).
  • *Special marketing services you provide.
  • *Selection of publications you offer.
  • *Any broadcast or digital opportunities.
  • *Your personal knowledge of business.
  • *Ways the paper can help build revenue.
  • *Rates, deadlines, distribution.

We recommend adding memorable experiences that show your passion for newspapering and your community’s engagement with the trusted local brand.

Sprinkle in testimonials. For example, Wagner showed this quote from Christina Smith, an assistant professor of Mass Communications at the Georgia College and State University:

“Community newspapers are the most relied upon news source in they area the serve. Community leaders believe their local newspapers, journalists and owners are community builders, providing relevant, truthful, local information.”

That helps us sum up the overall message: Be bold.
Thank you, Peter Wagner.

Calling all storytellers. Take it from here.

—TAS

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