What’s In a Name?
It has now been 60 days since we launched our efforts to transform Journal Register Company from a collection of newspapers into a true multi-platform news and information media company. And while we have such a long, long way to go, I want to point out the successes to date.
Working with crappy equipment; outdated computers; challenged I.T. – and in some cases lousy pay – it is your dedication, ingenuity and enthusiasm that has created those successes.
You have pushed hard to adopt the new news ecology into your thinking and daily routines and that isn’t easy when staffing levels in many of our locations is just enough to push out the print editions let alone dynamic web sites, Tweets and other digital products.
Innovation and Enthusiasm
At Montgomery Media, James Myers, Andy Stettler and Ron Dacanay, in just a couple of weeks, built and launched a successful iPhone app for the division – for less than $200. We need to invent a MacGyver award for this kind of quick thinking and innovation to work around our current systems.
Last week, Emily Morris, editor of our weeklies in Souderton and Perkasie in PA, while covering a controversial borough council meeting on a planned electricity rate increase, solicited questions from the community via Twitter. Emily asked the responders’ questions at the meeting and Tweeted the council members’ responses. Using social media, Emily brought the community to the meeting and made them part of the process in Internet time. That’s just plain smart.
Bringing The Outside World In – Harnessing Twitter and Community Media Labs
Our Company’s products have gone from very little use of Twitter only two months ago to more than 12,000 Twitterer followers for the products themselves and many thousands more following our writers and editors.
We are working hard to bring the outside world in to our company and harness the power of the link economy. Our Community Media Labs are up and running. Check out this video of the new lab at The Trentonian http://www.trentonian.com/medialab/. We are learning to crowd source content and our products are the better for the effort.
This Company is Growing Again – Audience Numbers and Ad Sales Are Up
As you know, we are the first newspaper company I know of to buy all of our reporters a Flip HD video camera. We have purchased many hundreds of them as well as others for our advertising departments. And it is paying off.
In January, our websites had about 117,000 video streams. The Flips went out near the end of February. In March, we streamed more than 600,000 videos and this month we expect to top 2 million video streams. That’s a lot of effort from newspaper people who are learning on the fly but enthusiastically adopting the new tools of the trade.
All of these efforts have helped drive our online unique visitor traffic by more than 58% in the last month. Even better, video advertising, nearly non-existent 60 days ago, will by the end of next week have paid for all of the Flip cameras we bought. Now that’s hustle.
We are now positively driving total audience and sales. In fact, our Company, and its 324 products, is one of the few, if not the only, newspaper company I know to have higher ad sales this March than the same month last year. And it looks like four of our five state clusters of papers and online sites will be up in advertising this quarter over the same time period last year. This company is growing again and that success is because of your efforts.
You should all take a bow. You deserve it. More importantly, our success lets us invest in the necessary systems and changes needed to transform this company for the future. And, remember, with profit sharing, we all share in that success.
Is It Time To Change The Company Name?
I end most of these updates by asking you a question. Here’s the latest: What’s in a name? While some of our newspapers have been around since before the American Revolution, the Journal Register Company name is only about 20 years old or so. That name has certain connotations both pro and con.
I am wondering if the name now needs to be changed to reflect our new focus on multiple media platforms and hyperlocal journalism. What do you think? Let me know.
Until next time, John.