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Newspaper Next Idea Brainstorming Session I

Posted by Dan Vigil on January 9, 2008

We held our first Newspaper Next brainstorming workshop this morning.

Kudos to our Marketing Director extraordinaire who spearheaded the effort. We were all surprised when over 50 employees showed up to this voluntary event, including department heads from circulation and production. We were even more surprised to notice that nobody showed up from our editorial department. We sat through a brief overview of the N2 initiative including a handout on “Using the N2 Method” and then the real fun began.

As you’ll see from the summary below, many people used the exercise as an opportunity to suggest improvements in the current operations of the company. This, in my opinion, was one of the biggest takeaways from the workshop. It’s apparent that our own employees are concerned with the integrity of the company and the product, an issue we should be addressing first.

We were divided into 8 teams of 6 people and were given the task of completing a blank Newspaper Next Idea Resume. Each team had approximately 15 minutes to come up with an “idea” for the newspaper. We’ll be meeting with our teams throughout the month to flush out our ideas using the N2 tools before the next meeting. At the very least it was a great team building exercise and you could sense some of the excitement in the room as the ideas were explained. The workshop is voluntary so we’ll see who shows up next month.

The following is a summary of the ideas presented:

Team 1 Idea: Improve Delivery and Distribution:

Circulartion

This idea focused on improving existing circulation and distribution systems. Having relocated our press production department to another city, we’ve been dealing with circulation challenges on a regular basis. Team 1 took the opportunity to bring these challenges to light and suggested we focus our efforts on improving circulation above all else.

Team 2 Idea: Create a Local Hispanic Print Product:

Hispanis Market

Recognizing that we have one of the largest Hispanic populations in the LA area, Team 2 suggested we develop a more local product catering to the Hispanic market in the San Gabriel Valley. The product would be home delivered and would earn income by selling advertising to businesses targeting the Hispanic market.

Team 3 Idea: Improve Communications and Customer Service:

Customer Service

Once again the focus was on “fixing” things that are currently broken. This team brought to light the many basic customer service and communications issues the company has on a daily basis. Although the examples given were borderline sarcastic, some good points were made about how important customer service is before anything else.

Team 4 Idea: Create an On-line Everything Local Guide:

Local

This team discussed the creation of a free on-line guide with hyper-local information for consumers and local residents. This is kind of a community resource center with contact information and resources aside from news stories which are are running currently on the main news site. Again, the project would create revenue from local advertisers.

Team 5 Idea: Create A Topper Coupon Spadea on Sunday:

Coupons

The idea was to publish a spadea to top the paper each sunday. The spadea itself would feature full color coupon space sold to local advertisers. Examples were given of success of such spadeas and coupons in other markets.

Team 6 Idea: Publish More Alternative News:

Alternative News

This team suggested that news in general had become somewhat “controlled” in the aggregate, and that there was a genuine demand by the public for “alternative” news perspectives on key issues. The newspaper should focus on becoming a conduit to other information sources, without being so concerned with sources and etiquette. As a result the paper would make more money as a better product.

Team 7 Idea: Organize And Host Local Events Tied To Publications:

Tradeshow

An example of a “Travel Expo” was given. The newspaper could organize and host a local expo much like the job fairs that have been put on by newspapers in past. The paper could target a specific industry and sell booths along with advertising in an accompanying print publication promoting the event.

Team 8 idea: Create A Product To Target Younger Audiences:

Kids

The notion here was that we need to hook them on the paper at a young age. This team discussed the creation of a section or sections in the paper that provided activities, resources and information for kids age 4-12 and their families. The paper could create educational content along with schools and team up with local chambers, community centers, Boy Scouts, YMCA etc. to offer information in print an on-line to this demographic. Advertising sales again would provide the revenue to support the effort.

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One Response to “Newspaper Next Idea Brainstorming Session I”

  1. […] we had 6 out of 8 teams represented (teams formed in Brainstorming Session 1), we were down to a total of 18 attendees. It was encouraging to see that we still had the support […]

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