Goff and Howard Public Relations / Public Affairs Logo

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Are e-mail and the Internet replacing brochures and newsletters?

In an age of every imaginable communication flowing across the Internet or your mobile phone, it’s hard not to question if this is the beginning of the end for printed materials like brochures and newsletters.

But while there are more choices today than ever before, we believe that print communications are alive and well.

Take, for instance, the issue of portability. Sure, you can hypothetically read an e-newsletter on your BlackBerry. But it is easier said than done. The experience of reading a printed piece is oftentimes more meaningful and more convenient than reading an electronic version. Printed pieces can also be distributed to many people at a meeting in any location or read easily from the passenger seat of a car or airliner.

Printed pieces can also achieve a more professional, credible impression simply by using a high-quality paper or special cuts, folds or shapes.

In general, a combination of print and electronic communications have a place in most campaigns. Striking the right balance will enable you to capture the best of both worlds.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Social media in action as Fargo-Moorhead battles Mother Nature

We spend a lot of time sharing information about the rise of social media. Today, as people in the Fargo-Moorhead area struggle to create sandbag barriers to hold back the rising Red River, the situation provides some real-world examples of social media’s impact and why it is important.

Not that long ago, the mainstream media would have been people’s source for information about the rising water and how to help. But over the past few days, people have used the power of social networking to provide information, recruit volunteers, and share thoughts and concerns.

For instance, local residents have created the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Volunteer Network on Facebook to help recruit volunteer sandbaggers. Thousands of people have signed up for the network, making it a key way to organize volunteers.

Fargo-Moorhead residents, the media, government workers, and others with a connection to the area are also using Twitter to send and receive updates.

And for people who want to follow the river levels, there are new ways like this site to track the latest forecasts via weather services.

As preparations for the Red River crest continue, our thoughts and prayers are with the people in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Big success for small town papers? Don’t be so sure.

It is a recently-held belief that small town newspapers are faring far better than the big dailies right now. Minnpost recently ran an anecdotal story about two small town newspapers that appeared to confirm that trend. We checked in with the Mille Lacs Messenger’s editor to see if his paper’s experience has been consistent. What he said surprised us, and confirmed that in today’s media world, nothing is certain. Oh, and by the way, the irony of a public relations person quoting a newspaper person is not lost on us.

Here’s what Brett Larson, editor of the Mille Lacs Messenger, had to say:

"After reading the story, I’d say you can’t generalize that just because a few towns have thriving newspapers, and sometimes more than one, everything is rosy in small-town America.

"Our readership is strong, but our ad revenue - and as a result - our number of pages, is down significantly over the last six months. We assume this reflects the economy and is not permanent, but frankly, we’re not sure. Will everyone come back when the economy turns around, or will they go elsewhere for advertising (web, radio, etc.)?

"We don’t know yet if what we’re seeing with big city papers will happen in small towns, but if you assume it won’t, you have your head in the sand, and if the change does come, you’ll be left behind.

"The obvious difference between us and the big guys is that the small-town paper is often the only source for local news, but this is changing and will continue to change. News Web sites are springing up in small towns around the country and attempting to compete with newspapers for ad revenue.

"We’re currently trying to make sure our Web site remains head and shoulders above the competition. Right now, we have the people and the infrastructure to cover local news in a far more comprehensive way than the newcomers."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A sad sign of the times

It’s said a picture is worth a thousand words. This picture might be worth a bit more.

A photo from a San Francisco storage yard full of discarded newspaper racks left in the digital dust.

For more photos click here: http://tinyurl.com/c2tw4b

Monday, March 16, 2009

Newspapers and Natural Selection?

Because last month marked the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth, it was perhaps inevitable that the theory of evolution would provide the latest analogy to explain the great mass media shake-up which we are experiencing. Popular science writer Steven Berlin Johnson did just that in an incisive speech last Friday.

Breitbart.com ran a story on his comments, headlined "Journalism evolving, not dying."

Monday, March 9, 2009

STRIB is #2 in the “Dead Pool”

At the beginning of each year some people develop a list of 10 celebrities who could potentially pass away during that year.

It’s called the “dead pool” and takes morbid cynicism to a place where people bet money.

This practice has now entered a new realm – the struggling world of metropolitan newspapers.

Leave it to one struggling form of printed communication (news magazines) to create a list of endangered companies that produce another type of printed communication (newspapers). Time Magazine has created what could be considered a newspaper “dead pool.” It lists what it considers to be the 10 major daily papers that are most likely to fold or shut down their print operations and only publish online. The Star Tribune comes in at #2. The Philadelphia Daily News tops the list that includes some of what used to be powerhouse newspapers across the country.

Solutions to the crisis newspapers face are complicated. Putting together a list of those that may not make it is somewhat easier.

The GH Spin wonders how long it will take one of these newspapers to come up with a list of 10 magazines that will cease printing and become an online-only operation.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A case of chicken pox PR

Last night, stories about an outbreak of chicken pox at my son’s school in Eagan ran on FOX news and in the Star Tribune. Was I alarmed? Not at all.

I’ve heard about this several times already over the past few weeks, not from the media, but straight from the school. I’ve received multiple e-mails from the principal, seen the signs posted on the doors at the school, and received a letter that contained recommendations from the Department of Health. I knew what needed to be done to protect my family (ensure that my son has had two doses of the vaccine). And, before the stories ran in the media, I knew they were coming . . . again, because of an e-mail from the principal.

News stories on negative topics don’t have to translate into a disaster if the topics are handled appropriately with your key audiences and the media. Kudos to Pinewood Community School for a “case of chicken pox PR” done right.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Never too old to intern

Goff & Howard Senior Writer Tricia Nissen recently proved the point that many of the best opportunities are the ones we create ourselves. After not finding the right fit for a professional development experience from the standard options (conferences, workshops, service learning projects, etc.), she designed an advanced internship with a daily newspaper for a week in February.

Tricia’s experience is shared in the column, “You’re Never Too Old to Intern,” in the Valley City Times Record.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A “niching” question for NewsBreak

With great Web-based fanfare, the Star Tribune on Monday launched a Web cast of news, weather and sports called NewsBreak. It’s billed as “Straight from the source, it’s your news now.” Yet after watching the first edition, it appears NewsBreak may already be strategically obsolete at a time when the Star Tribune can least afford to miss the mark.

There is more information streaming at us every day, and we have more control over the sources we can connect with and value. With this in mind, media companies, like any other business, need to understand more so than ever who their audience is, what value they bring to their customers, and where they fit into the marketplace.

NewsBreak seems to be reaching out to an audience it doesn’t understand. The result is something that may be of little value to the audience in a marketplace already filled with media companies who do a better job producing video for the Web because they have been producing television for newscasts for decades.

It’s hard to see how NewsBreak fills a need in the marketplace. The Star Tribune had a niche. It covered news in our market with depth and comprehension beyond what could be found at 5, 6, and 10.

Now, what niche is the Star Tribune trying to fill? Today’s debut of NewsBreak left us wondering.