Earl Wilkinson,the executive director of the International Newspaper Marketing Association, recognizes the crisis in some countries and newspapering and offers some opportunities as antidotes to the bad news.
"There are obvious opportunities in economic downturns. Here are my favourites:
1. Grow Share: Act like a market leader, use your positioning advantage, and grow market
share. Second- and third-tier competitors are cutting marketing and that often means
they’re cutting muscle. Buy out competitors for pennies. Play for the long-term.
2. Internal Changes: Rush through internal changes long on your agenda before the
“recession window” closes. Employee buy-in for change is easier in a downturn. When
good times appear on the horizon, where you are at that moment locks in until the next
3. It’s About Readers and Advertisers: No matter how much it’s really about “you” (the
newspaper) in a downturn, make sure your public face is about “them”: your advertisers
and your readers. You’re in dire straits because they’re in dire straits.
4. Subscriptions: Shift internal reader acquisition energy level from single-copy to
subscriptions. Bizarrely, single-copy sales suffer in downturns while subscription sales are more stable.
5. Editorial: Morph editorial toward stories that save money, save time, and navigate
6. From Selling to Consulting: Shift from selling to consulting with advertisers. It not
only makes communications sense, but if the shift from broadcast communications to
dialogue communications is true and you’re sitting on digital inventory you couldn’t move in better times, perhaps now is the time to stress this in consultations. Draw advertisers in on low-cost inventory, and perhaps the relationship will blossom in good times.
7. Cocooning: Consumers “cocoon” in downturns. They’re more open to coupons and
discounts, which are opportunities in your subscription marketing and packaging daily
print advertising. You know you have 30 advertisers offering US$1,500 in discounts
today, but does the reader?
8. Shift Talent to Innovation: Recessions cause downtime. As an alternative to
eliminating positions, do you have the staff talent to shift toward incubator-like
innovation and transformation projects that can help when the economy returns?
9. Upgrade Your Talent: Machiavellian as it sounds, recessions are opportunities to get
rid of unproductive employees and replace them with the higher quality talent pool that
suddenly sees jobs as scarce. Do you have an employment web page that spins the
opportunities for working for your company?
10. Recessed Industries: In the words of the Newspaper Next project, are there “jobs to
be done” for local recessed industries? Real estate agents and local governments are
hurting. Might opportunities exist to manage databases, and might such partnerships
grow into bigger opportunities post-recession?
11. Repackaging: Can newspapers repackage something they are already doing and
present them as a “new initiative” that can inexpensively build image and empathy
during a downturn? Several newspapers have put together “community help desks” that
answer any question someone in the community might have ranging from concert times
to sports scores to many others newspapers already do – but don’t package.
12. Radical Reorganisation of Resources: Centralisation, outsourcing, and offshoring
have reduced expenses in most cases. Most newsmedia groups have moved in this
direction throughout their functional areas. But are there additional opportunities to
reorganise between companies to drive new revenue and growth? Could we pool rare
talent to build a collaborative business unit that creates next wave content, advertising
and marketing services and new sustainable growth business models? "