Best Advice (Part III): Turnkey Ideas, Innovation Dance, Collaboration, Brand Loyalty

Sharing ideas is a gold standard at newspaper conferences. Participants benefit, in particular, from speakers who gather ready-to-use concepts. Last year’s programs, as the pandemic raged, embraced all sorts of revenue projects and strategies.

The third installment of the best words of wisdom from 2020 presentations promotes products, process and passion.
Read on:

Trainer Kevin Slimp concluded a presentation at the Kansas Press Association’s August conference with “5 Quick IDEAS To Interest Readers And Bring In Revenue — Get Your Pen Ready.”

His Idea 1 celebrates various professionals or business categories by spotlighting the “Faces of …” in a sponsored content format. Here are three examples featuring publishing, food and drink, and health care — feel free to create your own list of possibilities:

Idea 2 showcases subject-matter experts who can answer reader questions or elaborate on solutions to educate the audience. 

This example focuses on information intended for baby boomers, a bedrock group of newspaper readers. 

Idea 3 involves special sections, pages or a series that can highlight products made by local businesses and residents. It’s another way to support advertisers and employers during a tough time.

Idea 4 makes time to note the birthdays of readers. It takes a process and invites a sponsor. This could be an unusual revenue gift. Light the candles!

And, Idea 5 goes all in on longtime readers with publications for them. Travel and nostalgia topics are big here. But avoid stereotypes when trying to cut a new path to audience and revenue. 

As a bonus, Slimp adds his own list based on an adviser’s experience. 

Sparking new ideas is difficult when you’re pulled in many directions. Daniel Alvarez, vice president, product and design, at NBC Telemundo, understands your frustrations. During his talk about growth strategies during Local Media Association’s Digital Summit Week in August, he offered a five-step approach to fostering innovation to seize opportunities.

The upshot: Encourage honest assessment, create safe spaces for your team as it explores, and expect pushback along the way. “But learn fast, learn often,” he added.

LMA does a good job spotlighting emerging collaborations. Meanwhile, we’re seeing more state associations fostering improved statehouse coverage as well. Here’s to more victories in 2021.

Also at the August conference, Jim Brady made the case for why the industry’s transformation involves more news organizations working together to produce high-quality journalism. Brady is the project manager for The Oklahoma Media Center, which launched in May and attracted a financial backer so its media partners could focus on COVID’s impact on K-12 education in the state.

Check out his points and see if any resonate with your newspapers.

Who doesn’t enjoy a good quote that combines a smart business risk with a long-term passion for newspapers. Here’s one from the Midwest:

Once again, thanks to all of the advice-givers for sharing their wisdom. The Relevance Project certainly took note — and lots of notes. 

Look for more valuable insight in Part IV.

—Tom Silvestri

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