Best Advice (Part II): Desired Content, Audience Measures, Reader Revenue

The Relevance Project is back with a second selection of the best words of wisdom from insightful presenters to news media conferences in 2020.

You’ll see slides that I captured while participating in more than 50 seminars, workshops and panel discussions.

Yeah, it’s tough but Relevant work. Happy to share. Thanks also to the advice-givers.

Onward to Part II:

In August, trainer and publisher adviser Kevin Slimp entertained a Kansas Press Association audience with the results from focus groups — he conducted — that summarize what readers want.

Here’s the overall consensus across all readers to help publishers improve the quality of their newspapers:

Next, readership is dissected into major blocks. Here’s the content wish list from experienced readers, according to Slimp.

Looking to the future, Slimp turned to younger readers to probe their wants. Notice anything different? Same?

One more from this demographic which — a key point — is larger than the baby boomers.

Slimp delivered two presentations at the Kansas virtual event. In his first one, he noted that magazines were still a new-revenue initiatives for newspapers. He checked it on this long list of other “alternative revenues” identified by community newspapers. See if any hit home runs for you.


Thad Swiderski of eType Services implored publishers to bundle their audience to sell to advertisers. That involves totaling the number of readers who use print, online, mobile, social as well as the E-edition.

At one point during his “Selling Your Total Audience with Useful Techniques to Make Money with Digital” presentation, he showed an interesting example from a Texas newspaper that clearly details its audience across all platforms.


We’ll finish Part II with three slides from John Montgomery of content-systems provider TownNews, also at the Kansas conference, and his thorough take on subscription trends.

In particular, Montgomery noted the pandemic forced newspapers into even higher reliance on subscription revenue. Gone, he said, is the industry revenue standard of 75 percent advertising and 25 percent from circulation efforts. Some newspapers are now 50-50.

Here, he identified four models that are producing revenue apart from advertising.

In his presentation “Exploring Trends And Opportunities With Subscriptions,” Montgomery also focused on successful strategies for digital growth.

He also shared an audience diagram — a contorted hourglass — to help match different strategies with different audience segments. Publishers, how does this look with your newspaper data?

Finally, Montgomery told publishers not be afraid of asking for donations, especially if it benefits local newsrooms. He pointed to this newspaper where a pop-up notice urges readers to support local journalists — a great cause.

I have plenty more slides to share. Look for Part III soon

In the meantime, Stay Relevant. It’s the only way to go.

— Tom Silvestri

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