Tuning up your newspaper, or your newsroom? Consider these new services

As the news publishing industry changes dramatically, so should consultants who serve it. Following are some new services, most of which I have begun offering within the last year, to various clients asking for something “new,” and in many cases, something less than the “full enchilada” redesign that had ruled the day in the past. These include what I call “quick-shot tabloid prototyping,” advertorial writing and design, special section and magazine production, newsroom realignment and reorganization consulting, advertising rejuvenation, outsourcing of writing and design of house ads, and logo redesign. For your consideration:

QUICK-SHOT TABLOID PROTOTYPING: Many broadsheet newspapers have begun serious consideration of a conversion to compact format, to save money and yes, to serve readers better. Some, like the Chicago Tribune, have good resources in-house to prototype, and even implement, the tab conversion. (Tribune has unveiled its tab product for street-sales only in Chicago, to better compete with the compact Sun-Times.) But many newsrooms just do not have the time or in some cases, expertise, to adequately prototype such a product, which obviously, you want to see effectively mocked up before springing on readers or advertisers.

I have years of experience with newspaper tab design, including conversions from broadsheet, and for a very affordable one-time rate, can take your existing content, and fonts, and repackage into a smarter, tabloid product. (Typically, this involves creating 24-48 sample pages showing the flow of news content and advertising, reading for your printer or press.) However, to be clear: this is not a cosmetic exercise. Broadsheet pages do NOT automatically down-size effectively to tab; almost all elements have to be resized and in some cases, reconfigured entirely and put back together, to make a fresh, logical, easy to use and inviting product. This is a great option if you are satisfied with your overall “look and feel” (perhaps you adopted some snazzy fonts in the not too distant past, and feel it’s a good mix for your market) but want a reinvigorated, appealing product on the table for discussion, suitable even for focus groups. To inquire, email ron@ronreason.com

ADVERTORIAL WRITING & DESIGN: Every newsroom I have visited in the last year has had a discussion, sometimes uncomfortable, about wanting to create new “opportunities” for the advertising base, but not wanting to tread on newsroom ethics, which (being trained as a journalist myself) I know are important. You quite possibly will not survive with a strict church/state separation of editorial and advertising; most newspapers have something in the middle, “advertorial,” in the form of small display-ad features to standalone pages or spreads to pullout sections. I can design attractive, free-standing templates for advertorial pages and products that look nice, are easy to implement, and clearly state to the reader that “you are no longer in editorial land.” Templates and prototypes are available, as is the outsourcing of weekly or monthly advertorial production (writing and design) through my office in Chicago. To inquire, email ron@ronreason.com

OUTSOURCING OF SPECIAL SECTIONS AND MAGAZINES: Let’s face it, in many markets, newsroom staff cutbacks are a reality. You may have needs to keep publishing weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual special sections or magazines, but no longer the staff to produce these efficiently. You may even wish to launch new sections to offer your readers or advertisers, but at the current moment can’t justify bringing editors, writers and designers on board to produce them (and paying associated costs for hiring, relocation, benefits, and so on). With an extremely disciplined approach on your part to deadline schedules and copy flow (which we can easily advise on), you can keep publishing these products via outsourcing. To inquire, email ron@ronreason.com

NEWSROOM REALIGNMENT AND REORGANIZATION CONSULTING: You’ve downsized both the newsroom and the product line. You need to plan strategically for the next 1-5 years of economic uncertainty. How to maintain value for readers and advertisers while going through this storm? How to reconfigure work flow, deadlines, communications and leadership to make things more efficient while still maintaining, or even creating, an environment of innovation? In more than 20 years of consulting with newsrooms, I have developed a diplomatic eye for what I call “realignment and reinvention” of the newsroom, looking back on past strengths while examining opportunities for the future (particularly digital publishing strategies). This includes strategic planning, executive development, brainstorm, mediation of communications with staff, inspirational presentations on what others around the world are doing to stay ahead, and more. To learn more about my recent work with newsrooms in this area,  email ron@ronreason.com

ADVERTISING REJUVENATION: Are you stuck with a rate chart, ad modules, and ad-sales mentality from 2005? 2000? 1978? Are you uncertain how to create new opportunities for advertisers, and how to “show and sell” them these new avenues to reach readers? (Yes, even in a tough economic climate, my clients around the world are doing it.) In this affordable package of services, I review your current news products, evaluate your rate chart and menu of offerings to advertisers, and propose new specific “destinations” within your existing newspaper and website to create new ad revenue. This service can include actual mockups of design opportunities that you can take out to advertisers and either focus group, or start selling today.  To inquire, email ron@ronreason.com

SMARTER HOUSE ADS and FILLERS: Your advertising or marketing design shop may be strapped for time or talent. Or you may not even have one. Yet you have a need to communicate messages to existing readers about what they may have missed, or what they have to look forward to, on other days of the week, and to do so with eye-catching writing and design. To inquire about outsourcing your design and writing of house ads, on a one-shot or ongoing basis, email ron@ronreason.com

LOGO: Every year I am contacted by a newspaper or two that says, we’re fairly happy with the bulk of what we do, but it’s time to update our logo. Logo design can be done by amateurs with out-of-the-box typefaces, or it can be customized, affordably, by someone with years of experience, designing with type, creating brand campaigns, and teaching typography at the college level. To see samples of before-and-after logo redesign, and inquire about rates, email ron@ronreason.com

Something missing in your newsroom realignment that you don’t see here? Not sure if we offer a service you need? Email me and I’ll let you know – I’ve probably done some variation on that in one or more places around the world!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *