Wooing Politicians: Some Newspapers Are Taking Steps to Get a Bigger Share of the Political Advertising Pie

Article excerpt

Some newspapers are taking steps to get a bigger share of the political advertising pie

In this Election Year, newspapers have launched their own political campaign.

"Newspapers have not been responsive to political advertising trends since the advent of radio," said Shaun Higgins, director of marketing and sales of the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash. "Henrik Ibsen said 'Politics are the lifeblood of the news. paper.' If that is the case, newspapers have been bleeding for years."

To stop the hemorrhaging, several factions of the industry have taken action. The Newspaper Association of America hosted a booth at both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions

The Spokesman-Review has actively started soliciting political dollars by attending state and local conventions. The Oklahoma Press Association has studied its lack of campaign ads and has started a program to do something about it.

"Newspapers have priced themselves out of the market, and do not provide the same level of service to political candidates that they do to retailers. Broadcast offers the lowest rate," said Rowland Thompson, executive director of Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington. "It doesn't matter who tells them they have to offer the lowest rate. They do and that is a market force newspapers have to deal with."

Unlike broadcasting, which are regulated to sell political advertising at the lowest rate, newspapers often charge a premium fee for political ads.

To get political ads back into newspapers, Higgins believes, newspapers will institutionally have to lower rates.

"We want to be the battleground that political battles are fought on. If we want to be competitive with television, we must lower rates. Facts and ideas are what newspapers present best, why would we want to price the battle of ideas out of our medium?" asked Higgins.

He cites a recent political campaign in Washington state whose budget was in Washington state whose budget was $140,000, and the newspaper received one $1,400 ad, a klunky, unappealing endorsement ad.

"Newspapers get one, two or three percent of the campaign money being spent," said Higgins. He would like to see 10% of political budgets going into newspaper ads.

John Mannex, national ad manager for the Oregonian in Portland, Ore., launched a marketing plan to pull in more political ad dollars for a previous election and it fell flat. …