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Newspaper Next Idea-Brainstorming Session 2

Posted by Dan Vigil on February 14, 2008

We held our second News Paper Next Brainstorming Session this morning.

Though 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 of key department heads and executives from circulation and sales. We had at least 5 new attendees, with a strong showing from the creative department. Still no sign of editorial, but it’s clear that next steps in the N2 process will rely on their involvement.

After a brief overview of the N2 Game Plan and framework for flushing out ideas, we spent a few minutes on 6 of the ideas from last month’s session. Team members in attendance were given time to elaborate and suggest next steps for each idea. Of the 8 original teams, only Team 5 led by our ad services manager came prepared with prototype web/print mock-ups , completed N2 Resume Idea Template & preliminary revenue projections.

As new committees/teams were formed to further explore ideas, it became clear that many attendees were reluctant to take on additional responsibilities. “How much time is this going to take?” was the question from sales staff present. While our goal is new revenue, the time investment from commissioned sales staff needs to be justified. With current commission structures focusing on core print revenue within a sales territory, it will be difficult and dangerous to pull talented sales execs away from their bread and butter to work on new “ideas”.

It might make more sense to rely on sales staff less for “hands on” participation and more for feedback as ideas develop. Better yet, in the true spirit of entrepreneurship that N2 fosters, we should consider a “bonus” compensation structure for those employees who spearhead profitable N2 initiatives.

At the end of our discussions we were left with 4 new teams charged with drilling down further into the following ideas/initiatives (for a more detailed description of these ideas see Newspaper Next Idea Brainstorming Session I):

New Team 1: Improving communications and customer service systems.

New Team 2: Coupon advertising program and Auto Display Ad Program.

New Team 3: Hosting industry events tied to publications.

New Team 4: Local kid-targeted special section.

Next steps were also suggested for the following :

1. Creation of a local Hispanic print product: We will be inviting one of our sister publications to provide a presentation on how they successfully launched a “new” Spanish print piece using N2 methods.

2. Alternative News: a prototype of an Alternative News section will be created for presentation at the next meeting.

The following new idea was also presented and accepted with enthusiasm by most present:

PS Weekly (Prep Sports Weekly):

Prep Sports On-line

This would be a new weekly print publication highlighting prep sports topics and information. The piece could be distributed free to all high schools and prep sporting events in the local area. With our current on-line dominance in the Preps category, we could also use the product to build out our on-line section. Advertising programs could be developed with the cooperation of schools who would benefit from a percentage of ad revenues.

We’ll be meeting again in the coming weeks to choose an idea to launch within the next 45 days.

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