On Boxing Day, at my parents, I saw this advert on the side of a milk bottle.
And here’s the thing – it reminded me to buy the newspaper.
I’ve blogged about this before, and I remain convinced that at least part of the battle for local and regional newspapers is reminding people that they are part of their lives, and can add to their lives too.
Getting the message on a side of a milk bottle – and the area where my parents live is an area which still has a lot of people receiving daily milk – is a way of getting back in the eye of the reader. Several hours later, I was in a local petrol station and saw a copy of the LEP. I bought it. Thanks to the milk bottle? Not sure – but a likely prompt amid the chaos of Christmas.
Several days later, I was in the small Lincolnshire town of Bourne, home of the Bourne Local newspaper. This permanent advertising sits in the centre of the town:
Ok, so it’s a little Royston Vasey in tone, but it’s also highlighting the USP of the Local. Admittedly, the sign on the front door of the paper’s office – announcing they wouldn’t be back until January 10 at the earliest – wasn’t the most informative way of keeping in contact with readers, but the Local clearly connects with readers.
The edition between Christmas and new year was just 20 pages – a fact remarked upon by a sales assistant in the nearby Sainsburys who said some people had been buying two by mistake (one way to keep sales steady over Christmas I guess) – yet there were a lot of people buying it.
Both the advert and the milk bottle promotion do, of course, involve some marketing spend. But both are examples of spend which has a lasting impact – who knows how long that milk bottle will be circulation? Both are also a constant, if unexpected, reminder that the paper is still there.
Can we do that for free? Making sure we’re promoting ourselves in a suitable way to would-be readers when they go about their daily lives? Yes.
Leaping online for a moment, I’ve seen countless examples of front pages being posted on Facebook or Twitter prompting reaction and discussion. I also know from looking at Trinity Mirror Twitter accounts that it’s not uncommon to get requests about when something is appearing in the paper, how they get hold of a paper, or a thank you for putting something out which prompted them to buy the paper.
Social media, therefore, is a way of getting the brand – effectively a service to readers – into the view of would-be readers. Many, many journalists ‘get’ Facebook and Twitter – as the primary examples currently – but seeing it more than just a tool for getting stories is the next big step.
If ever there was a reason for newsrooms and newspapers to put social media at the heart of their operations, then it’s surely this. It doesn’t necessarily cost a penny, it just takes a bit of bottle…