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Lynchburg and other Virginia papers sell 'Own the Day'

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A news consumer in Lynchburg, Va., might encounter a single advertiser in four different places during the course of a day, depending on who is participating in "Own the Day."

"Own the Day," was a special offer during the last two weeks of August at the Lynchburg News & Advance. The package included a front-page sticky note on the print edition, a desktop note, a mobile presence and an email blast.

The Lynchburg paper presented the idea at a recent P2P (Publisher-to-Publisher) SNPA video conference, but multiple papers in BH Media's Virginia Group participated, according to Lynchburg Advertising Director Kevin Smith. The idea originated with Regional Publisher Kelly Mirt, who first tried out a version of it at The Charlotte Observer.

"We tried to look at how we could incorporate digital into it and really make it a total reach to our audience," Smith said.

In Lynchburg, the 22,000 circulation daily newspaper drew six new clients out of a total of 25 participants, and generated more than $65,000 in revenue.

"We gave our clients a limited time to commit to it," Smith said. "Now if somebody calls us up today and wanted to be in it, the answer would be no, that program's over. We can definitely price it out for you, but it will be a lot higher price. So that way it gave a sense of urgency."

Own the Day will be back next year, though, and Smith predicts more participation because he's heard advertisers say they wished now they had bought in.

Sticky notes have proven to still be popular forms of advertising even though they are relatively expensive and print circulation continues to drop nationally, Smith said. Some publishers may have discarded the idea, but readers of the print edition still like them.

Online, the advertiser receives the "reveal" position – the dominant ad of the day – on the website. The ad that appears on mobile apps is configured differently to take the size of the screen into account, while the email version goes out with the daily news blasts.

Advertisers have scheduled the package on multiple days throughout the year. Some did it a couple of weeks in a row; some tried monthly or quarterly placements.

The Own the Day package proved popular with advertisers who wanted to highlight specific events, sales or seasonal promotions, Smith said. For example, the area's apple orchards harvest in the fall, so they have been advertising recently.

Medical clients saved their days for this time of year to catch people who need to exhaust their flexible health savings plans before the end of the year for tax purposes, Smith said. Another client was advertising a sale of a specific brand of tires. Financial institutions were also interested in the concept.

"If it was a retailer having a sale, if it was somebody trying to gain membership, or an event, it could really help to drive the traffic for the business or event," Smith said.

One tactic Smith said helped sell Own the Day packages was what he called "four-legged sales calls." In addition to the client's ad rep, a member of the in-house business development team went along on the sales call to talk about overall planning.

Smith said business owners sometimes don't give an idea enough time, figuring if they don't see results after running an ad three times then the plan has failed. Own the Day isn't meant to be a one-time or stand-alone strategy.

"You really want to make sure that they're doing some other things as well," he said.

For more information, contact Kevin Smith at ksmith@newsadvance.com.


Jane Nicholes

Jane Nicholes, a regular contributor to the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association's eBulletin, is a freelance writer and editor based in coastal Alabama. She is an award-winning veteran of more than 30 years in the newspaper business. Reach her at jbnicholes@att.net.

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