Color as Competitive Weapon: Suburban Papers Use Color to Attack Pittsburgh Market

By Frizzi, Ginny | Editor & Publisher, September 30, 1995 | Go to article overview

Color as Competitive Weapon: Suburban Papers Use Color to Attack Pittsburgh Market


Frizzi, Ginny, Editor & Publisher


COLOR IS PLAYING an increasingly important role in the marketing of three dailies in Pittsburgh.

While the papers differ in their ability to print color, executives at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (250,000 daily circulation, 450,000 Sunday), the Tribune-Review (72,000 daily, 127,000 Sunday) and the North Hills News Record (24,000 seven days a week) are using color more and are enthusiastic about its power to attract advertisers and readers.

"Without question, color draws the Frizzi is a freelance writer in the Pittsburgh area. readers' eyes to photos, stories and ads," said Kathy Kozdemba, publisher and president of Gannett Co.'s News Record, based in suburban Warrendale. Gannett also publishes the Valley News Dispatch, a seven-day paper for Tarentum, Pa.

Edward H. Harrell, president of the Greensburg-based Tribune-Review, and Robert B. Higdon, vice president and general manager of the Post-Gazette, agree.

Accordingly, in an effort to boost its color capacity, the Post-Gazette has purchased seven five-color, flexographic press units from KBA-Motter Inc. of York, Pa., as part of a $20 million investment in press and prepress equipment, but mostly the former.

Installation of the units, one on each of seven existing press lines that together include 48 units of Hoe Colormatic and Color Convertible letterpress equipment, is scheduled to start in january 1996.

But the color competition has already begun, its seeds sown when the Pittsburgh Press closed in 1993 during a strike, inviting incursion from the suburbans. The News Record was a twice weekly until the strike, and the Tribune-Review had no Pittsburgh edition until the strike.

To the north, the News Record and Valley News Dispatch print in Tarentum on a Goss Metroliner that also runs USA Today.

Southeast of the city, the Tribune-Review produces color on a Goss Metro-Offset press.

Selling Color Ads

Marketing color to advertiserss means selling its effectiveness and affordability while constantly working to improve print quality, executives say.

"The key to effective marketing is knowing your advertising needs and marketing goals," said Kozdemba, adding that 25% of the advertising the News Record runs every year is in color.

"The smartest advertisers advertise with regular frequency. They know their potential .... The market comes to know the product through regular advertising."

All three papers have found car dealers, department stores and real estate companies willing to advertise in color, many of them often.

"They are pretty sophisticated and know the importance of frequency and position. They are finding that color -- up to four-color -- is affordable when used frequently," said Suzette Cook, the News Record's director of marketing.

The advertising staffs of all three papers take pains to show businesses that color ads can be affordable and effective marketing tools, despite the extra expense. Four-color ads can cost $500 more at the Tribune-Review, $225 more at the News Record, and an undisclosed premium at the Post-Gazette.

"We want them to see that color can make great ads, whether you're a big business or a mom-and-pop business like a dry cleaner," Cook said. "We try to work with businesses that advertise with a smaller frequency to introduce elements of color into their ads, along with enhanced frequency if it makes sense and makes them want to return (with color ads)."

The News Record offers special rates that make color more affordable for small- and medium-sized businesses, and its color ad linage rises during fourth-quarter holiday shopping.

The Tribune-Review has developed three screen color charts that have helped sales reps in dealing with advertisers, according to marketing director Kraig J. Cawley. He said the charts give new advertisers a truer representation of what their ad will look like in the paper.

The Tribune-Review's Edward Harrell said the market's acceptance of color is being retarded by the Post-Gazette's inability to run it. …

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