Minnesota Newspaper Association
Reprinted from The Minnesota Press Association Newsletter
‘Selling Your Community
and Your Newspaper
by Chuck Nau
In this ever changing economic and media environment, let me share with you a sales tool
that has proven its value time and again. This simple sales tool will help you become the resource
your advertisers turn to first when they need help, information and, quite frankly, reassurance.
Additionally, in the process, this simple sales tool helps build your confidence and belief in
yourself, newspapers, your newspaper and its website.
Along with a copy of your newspaper and your newspaper’s website stats, this simple sales tool
will enhance your likelihood for success in both impromptu and anticipated face-to-face meetings
The simple sales tool? A pitch book! What’s a pitch book?
It is all the necessary information you need to help potential advertisers visualize why they should
invest ad dollars (... new and additional revenue!) in your newspaper, its website and additional
A pitch book is not a rate card. It is more than that! A pitch book ideally is a binder that contains
information on your market, newspapers, YOUR newspaper, your competition, plus additional
data you need to tell and sell your newspaper's story.
Developing a pitch book, even the most fundamental one, does not have to be a time consuming,
formidable or expensive task. It is possible even if you are at a newspaper that has limited
research resources, both human and financial.
Let's consider for a moment building your own bare bones pitch book. It may be bare bones
initially, but as you use it, adding to and subtracting from, it will become a well-used and trusted
ally in your progress toward sales success.
How, you ask, will you be able to develop a pitch book with limited or no research resources?
It's easy, and it can be fun. It will teach you more about your market, your newspaper, and your
First, you will need to refocus those selling skills and do a little bit of investigative work. Ask lots
But what are we going to investigate? Available, and in some cases free, resources to develop
more facts, data, and information about your market, newspapers, your newspaper, and your
competition in order to create, build, and refine your pitch book.
What resources? Where? Right there, in front of you. Consider the following everyday sources
For Market Information - The first, and possibly the best, resource may be your own newspaper.
Don't overlook any departments or personnel. Begin a reference file featuring photocopies of
news stories about your market (its growth, changes, population, schools, new retailers and/or
employers, demographics). Don't forget to tag each story with the newspaper's name and date of
story. In addition, keep an eye out for feature stories about your market in other area newspapers,
regional business journals, and even your competition!
Another good community resource for you are Realtors and Financial Institutions. Ask
them if they will share the information with you, volunteer to share your information, and give
appropriate credit for the information. Homeownership, major employers, pay days, changes in
your community’s school population, retail sales trends and spending habits are all important to
your potential advertisers and help sell your market, and your paper.
Also, local college/university/branch campus, libraries, and government sources, both national
(Small Business Administration) and local (Chamber of Commerce, Grange, County Economic
Development Council) -- these are great sources for economic (Census info, population, age,
income, educational information) and historical (your local town origin, county origin, reasons
behind largest town social/economic event) data. All of this information helps you paint a picture
about your market and the people your newspaper serves.
Do not overlook checking and reviewing any and all of your local market’s websites, including
your newspaper’s, your competitor’s (radio, television, yellow pages, direct mail, billboards) and
other print niche publications.
For Newspaper Information - As with your search for market information, your first resources
may be your newspaper and your newspaper’s website. Search out any information regarding your
newspaper's history, goals and mission, readership, unique visitors, and circulation. Strategically
plan how you will use this information to tell your story to your potential advertisers. Begin
writing your newspaper’s story ... its audience, the results you will generate, how your newspaper
products cover the market and your newspaper’s aﬀordability.
If your newspaper sources are limited and incomplete, reach out and ask the Texas Center
for Community Journalism or the Texas Press Association for assistance. They are a wealth of
information, perhaps not as much on your market, but on the state overall and the newspaper
industry in particular. Your state press association will have lots of resources available. Whether
it is current circulation trends, average readers per copy, who is reading newspapers, who visits
newspaper websites, how well newspapers and their websites work or the emerging technology
questions regarding the Internet -- your newspaper association can help you.
Last but not least, network with other newspapers in your region or state to discuss what's new,
what's available, what's working.
For Competitive Information - just ask. To learn about your competition and what they are
doing in your market, ask those advertisers, both existing and new, if they would share their
competitive strategy (and information) with you. Call your competition, ask some questions, and
request a rate card or media kit. You do not have to identify yourself, and if you are not asked you
do not need to tell them who you are or why you are calling. Then again, if your competitor asks,
and you identify yourself, what is the worst they can say? No.
To learn about a particular medium (cable, radio, direct mail) call an out-of-market competitor,
who will probably give you specific information on their station or mailing and broad based
information on the media, radio or direct mail, which you can use.
Keep looking for new resources. Keep updating your pitch book. It's your pitch book. Make it
work for you. As I mentioned earlier, it will help you become the resource your advertisers turn
to first when they need information and, in the process, build your confidence and belief in
yourself, newspapers, your newspaper and its website.
Have fun and good luck!
© Murray & Nau, Inc.
Chuck Nau of Murray & Nau, Inc. is a Seattle area based publishing consultant
and sales and management trainer. He has been a speaker for and conducted advertising,
marketing, management and sales training workshops with newspapers, niche publishers,
publishing groups and press associations, throughout North America.
Comments and questions are welcome and may be directed to Chuck via email:
[email protected]. or at (425) 603 - 0984.