Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kuna Melba News working on comics section

One of my favorite subscribers came into the office a couple of weeks ago to renew his subscription.
I say he’s one of my favorite subscribers because he came to a Kuna City Council budget hearing two years ago to testify against property tax increases and then, as an aside, he told the whole gathering what a great local weekly newspaper we have in Kuna. I had no idea who he was until that day, but he instantly became one of my favorite subscribers.
Anyway, when this gentleman came into the office the other day he asked when we’re going to have comics in the paper.
Now, when one of my favorite subscribers makes a pitch for a new feature in the paper, I listen.
We’ve actually been working on a comics section for well over a year now. We’ve been communicating with a company called Funnies Extra. The business model is to have a full-color comics section printed and inserted into hundreds of weekly newspapers in the United States and Canada, with the costs of the printing paid by some national advertisers. It would be nearly free to us as a newspaper and would enable us to offer another feature for our readers.
Funnies Extra has been working hard at signing up newspapers and advertisers, nearing 200 papers with over a half-million weekly circulation.
However, many of the national media buyers indicated that they needed more circulation than that for them to advertise with us.
Sheesh. Weekly newspapers have always been the redheaded stepchild in the newspaper family, but advertisers, particularly national advertisers, need to realize they are missing out on a big chunk of potential customers.
Just look at my favorite subscriber. He loves his local paper. He invites it into his home every week, and he reads it voraciously. Because we are so local, our readers tend to spend a lot of time with our papers. According to the 2010 National Newspaper Association annual readership survey, on average, readers spent 37.5 minutes reading local newspapers.
In addition, the study found that 29 percent of readers read all of the content of a local newspaper, 49 percent read most of it, and 21 percent some of it, suggesting that in small communities the content in local newspapers was well read.
Newspapers continued to be the primary source of information about local communities, with 49 percent of the vote, with friends and relatives in a distant second at 17.5 percent (I wonder where the friends and relatives learned about the local news). Television came in third place at 16 percent. Of course, folks who rely on TV news for information about their local community, as they say, don’t know what they don’t know.
By the way, 67 percent of the respondents said they rarely or never use direct mail to make purchasing decisions. Another 22 percent said sometimes, with only 11 percent saying very often or often. Radio does even worse with 6 percent using radio very often or often to make purchasing decisions. Meanwhile, 40 percent of respondents said newspaper advertising is somewhat influential or very influential in making purchasing decisions.
Anyway, my point in all of this is to say that national advertisers are just missing the boat here with a golden opportunity to reach a vital segment of the market. Hopefully, our good friends at Funnies Extra will convince them of that and we can get that comics section in the Kuna Melba News soon.
In the meantime, you can now go online at to read the comics every week. Let us know what you think.

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