The Seguin Daily News is a free, tabloid-style daily news magazine that is published every business day in Seguin, Texas. General Manager Hal Widsten answered Mediabids’ questions.
(MB) Five years from now what role will publications like yours
serve? For example, some people predict a complete migration to the web for
many types of publications. Do you?
(SDN)I don’t believe that print
publications will ever completely disappear, but I do believe that if they are
to survive they must decide who they’re going to serve and stop trying to be
everything to everyone. Our approach is a highly local focus. We’re
in the San Antonio
metro, 40 miles East of SA, and we let the San Antonio Express News handle all
the National and International news, commentary, opinion, comics, TV programs,
etc. We are only interested in what happens in our city first and our
county second. There are plenty of outlets, both print and electronic for
all that other stuff, but we’re the only publication covering our local city
council meetings, county court meetings, band concerts, school news, etc.
I believe that type of specialization is where papers are headed. On
the Internet side, for at least the next 10 years I don’t think any newspaper
can expect to bring in the same revenues from a website that is generated by
selling ads on a printed page.
(MB)What sort of measures has your
publication put in place to either conserve costs or boost revenue?
(SDN) We’re trying to do both. We
are now in the midst of a complete redesign of the Daily News to maximize the
use of every square inch we print. Since we began, our sales
philosophy has been to sell long term advertising. Our entire rate card
is set up to reward the long-term advertiser and punish the short-term
people. We have always had ads on the bottom of our front page and we are
working to devise ways to integrate ads into editorial space where they will be
seen by greater numbers of people, but at the same time not detract from the
(MB)Looking forward to 2009, do you have
any significant changes in store for the new year?
originally planned our redesign for next year, but we’re doing it sooner due to
the increasing costs of paper, ink and delivery.
(MB) What was your most successful
advertising initiative in the past 12 months?
We managed to keep the paper sold
out, or within a percentage point or two of being sold out for the first half
of the year. We publish the same number of pages each day and do not
increase or decrease the size of the paper based on ad space.
(MB) Do you have tips for other
publications about the best way to integrate print and web sales?
(SDN) I believe we all need to talk
with our readers and audiences about what they want from our web pages, rather
than listening to consultants tell us what they think we should have. Our
"Football Central" part of www.seguintoday.com
came from a member of our local booster club who suggested we take the weekly
football program we did in past years and put it on the internet. It has
been a financial and readership success.
(MB) How does your publication hire and,
even more important, retain top sales personnel?
(SDN) We’re in a small market. It
is our challenge to find very talented people who are just at the beginning of
their careers and help them to get started in both the Radio and Newspaper
business. On the Radio side we have been very successful with this
approach and have "graduated" a number of people into larger market
situations. We’re still working on that on the print side.