News & Tech asked some industry leaders what effects they’ve seen and what steps they’re taking to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
APG Media of Ohio/ Michigan
News & Tech: What effect have you seen on advertising and what measures have you taken on that front?
COHEN: Our company (and us) have been very successful with selling the stimulus packages. Businesses appreciate what we are trying to do for them and as well we are reminding them that they need to market and advertise. Also, it forces our reps to call on more nontraditional customers via phone. We were pleased with some of the results with non-profits and other categories that we rarely called on. It’s retraining reps out of necessity with more phone sales, calling on a different clientele.This new normal will carry us to a new sales culture that we have been preaching about for years. More calls to new and different customers!
News & Tech: What effect have you seen on subscriptions and what measures have you taken on that front?
COHEN: Home delivery has been stable. Single copy has been a challenge for obvious reasons. Between social distancing and store closures, it is what we expected. The good news is that digital subscriptions have been up 14%. This is something we can build on.
News & Tech: What HR challenges are you facing?
COHEN: It is really a matter of keeping the team motivated and positive. I haven’t noticed any severe issues on this front but it is a matter of our leadership being more diligent about encouragement with our employees. It’s time for us to improve listening skills and as long as we are doing that, then this should help ease the strain. Our goals and objectives aren’t altered and we are all held accountable but the communication method changes. Good leadership is about adjusting style and emphasis during a time of crisis. We are trying to do that.
News & Tech: Are there any benefits in the short and longer term?
COHEN: I think both the short-term and longterm benefit is that you really find out who are the winners on your team and, consequently, who do not measure up. It is still about people and some have stood tall and surprised us and have been versatile to work any job needed. It has forged a bond with many of us and that has made us stronger.
News & Tech: What changes do you plan in your print operation and schedule?
COHEN: We have cut back days, but this was discussed before the pandemic.
News & Tech: Do you anticipate using any government relief funds?
COHEN: We are hoping that we receive some.
The APG Ohio group consists of a number of newspapers and their websites, including The Athens Messenger, The Athens News, The Crescent-News (serving Defiance, Ohio), Circleville Herald, Perry County Tribune, The Logan Daily News, The Pike County News Watchman,The Courier (serving Vinton and Jackson Counties in Ohio) and the Record & Clarion (serving Gladwin County and Beaverton, Michigan).
My message would be more for owners, like myself. Too many employees are signing up for unemployment or failing to perform due to the fear of losing their job. Instill confidence in your employees to deliver product satisfaction and execution in creative new ways as opposed to laying them off. I have read about some brilliant new methods of selling advertising and generating revenue. Those ideas come from great employees. Empower your employees with ideas and ask them to think outside of the box. Our employees and customers are most important, and failing to take care of either one of them is detrimental to our success.
Our passionate group of dedicated professionals has worked long hours on the road traveling and made sacrifices working through holidays and weekends when we are extremely busy. They have carried the load when the company needed them most. They know we will continue to support them and their families now during this difficult moment in time. All of our employees are fearlessly working hard to generate new revenue, execute jobs and take care of our customers.
The 25-year-old imPRESSions offers second-hand single-wide newspaper and commercial presses and auxiliary equipment, as well as services including press room upgrades. imPRESSions is headquartered in Burlington, Washington, and also has a facility in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Vice President of Sales & Product Development
The Siebold Company
News&Tech: What ideas can your organization offer as an operational solution during these crisis times?
HALLSTROM: The primary goal during this pandemic for The Siebold Company and for all our newspaper printing customers is keeping personnel safe.
We suggest all newspaper production personnel take all necessary safeguard measures, including social distancing and material disinfecting to protect all personnel.
To ensure the safety of our DGM and Goss parts customers, we sanitize all parts and components prior to shipment, and we suggest that when our customers receive shipments from us, their receiving personnel use best practices to sanitize all incoming shipments, including hand washing before and after unpacking the shipment. We have adopted this same procedure for all incoming deliveries received at our facilities.
During this crisis, many of our newspaper printing customers have reduced operational and maintenance staffing.To fill this void, we have expanded our single- and double-width service offerings.
Keeping the press equipment operational is also vital during this crisis. TSC has received state and federal closure waivers, so we are fully operational to provide the newspaper printing industry with the parts and service support required to help keep our customers operational.
Vice President of Sales
In these challenging times, with advertising temporarily cancelling schedules and subscribers depending on their trusted local newspapers more than ever, publishers are turning to their print replica solution.
Tecnavia has been in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak for some time with customers worldwide and has aided many publishers in making quick changes to schedules and delivery. In Italy, Tecnavia has worked with Italian publishers that have suspended their print distribution and are relying on the print replica for delivery to their subscribers.The increased demand has resulted in a 30–40% uptick in traffic.
In NorthAmerica,Tecnavia is helping multiple publishers within several groups utilize the same strategy, eliminating print distribution on some days but keeping the curated print version for online access. The cost savings of printing and distribution combined with keeping subscribers attached are vital for their operations.
In addition to the cost savings, the print replica has the added benefit of driving traffic, generating more pageviews/screen views, ad impressions and therefore online revenues. The increased traffic is helping to offset the lower ad CPMs we are seeing.
The Tecnavia Advertising Network (TAN) has provided needed revenues for publishers.
Tecnavia is an e-publishing solutions provider with U.S. offices in Burnsville, Minnesota. The company also has offices in Switzerland and Italy.