Learn about the First in Print program and how nearly 21 newspapers are already making it work
GateHouse Media has rolled out a new program, First in Print, which aims to provide local newspapers with promotional tools they can use to alert readers about content that day or week that's exclusive to the print newspaper.
Daily newspapers are encouraged to tease three pieces of content every day that are print exclusives or that are appearing first in print in their print edition. Online they are encouraged to do the same thing, but tease to their e-edition and subscription information to purchase those stories. Weekly newspapers are encouraged to run the promotion once a week.
The GateHouse News & Interactive Division last year released a content differentiation strategy that explains what content should go online and what shouldn't. That strategy is helping dictate what content should be teased in the First in Print program.
This week, News & Interactive Division staff will hold two webinars with GateHouse newspapers on the new strategy.
One GateHouse Media newspaper editor — even before the new program was released last week — already had a similar program in place.
Bob Burgess, managing editor of several weekly newspapers at GateHouse's Northwest New England group and editor of The Beacon, explained to me this week in an interview how his newspapers have made print-only promotion work.
What do you do today in print and online to promote print only or first in print content? I post online an image of the front page of the weekly I edit (The Beacon) with a link to subscribe and a link on where to pick up a single copy of the paper that week. The story includes a list of items that will be posted online later and a list of items that are exclusive to the print product. We also took a staff picture and embedded it in the story section. The post goes up the evening before publication and stays up for a few days. Starting this week, I'll be including several items on our front page rail that will be print exclusive.
When did you start the feature? The feature started about three months ago after a meeting with circulation. I built off an idea we saw in the South Unit (of Massachusetts). One of their weeklies was posting their front page and I think a link to subscribe. The idea on The Beacon's website was to expand on that, make it clear to online readers what they were missing in the print product and to remind them that real people generate the news articles they count on.
How many papers in your unit are currently doing it? Most of the papers in our 21 publication unit are now doing some form of this model.
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What challenges did you face to get it started? We had to figure out how to convert the front page PDF into a JPEG and size it correctly. We needed to decide for sure what content would be held for print and what would be delayed online posting. And we needed to get the staff together at the same time for the photo.
What has reader reaction been? I haven't heard directly from readers on the feature, but judging from Google Analytics, they are interested. The item consistently ranks between five and ten on our most viewed posts of the week. As a newspaper reader, I know I want to be clear on why I should continue to pay for a subscription. I don't want to feel like I'm throwing my money away on something I can just get entirely for free online. With this feature, we're telling our story better.
Download the templates
An image you can use on your Web site to tease
If you have any questions about the First in Print program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org