Forget the swirling debates over building paywalls or shaking down Google (NSDQ: GOOG), MediaShift’s Mark Glaser has some different suggestions for newspapers. Glaser’s list is a good addition to the newspaper-survival guide he put out back in December, which included aggregating content from outside sources, creating classified ad networks, and focusing on hyperlocal advertising.
1. Smaller print runs: Targeting isn’t just an online thing; newspapers can target specific neighborhoods and do a smaller, custom print run tailored to certain coverage areas.
2. All local, all the time: Newspapers have been shedding plenty of jobs, but newspapers can bring in the work of local bloggers who are already doing the work for free. They might appreciate the higher profile and even the chance to share some ad revenue.
3. Out with circ staff, in with SEO: This one will be hard for newspapers to follow, but Glaser says to cut the circulation, printing, print production side and supplant them with more tech, SEO, community managers. Your readers are online and it’s time to cultivate that readership. More after the jump
4. Get a “real focus group”: If you want to find out what your readers want, don’t hire a focus group. Just go out and talk to your community and ask them what they’re looking for.
5. Marry user-gen and professional: The twain can meet; encourage user-gen content and then put a professionally edited sheen over it.
6. Find a better reason for multimedia: Just because anyone can use a video camera, doesn’t mean you should run clips for the hell of it. Find a good reason to use video or audio — and if you don’t have one, don’t use it.
7. Mixed revenues: There’s no either or when it comes to subscription paywalls or ad support. Find a way to bring as many revenue streams into the mix, including seeking donations and selling directory listings.
8. Readers like database projects: It’s all about getting local; readers want anything that focuses on their particular world. Mapping and database initiatives are pretty novel ways of attracting readers.
9. You’re in the directory business: Newspapers missed out early on by not broadening their advertiser mix to include plumbers and pizza places. Online directories snapped up those dollars when the space was still growing substantially. Still, better late than ever, a number of newspapers have been turning to local businesses they previously ignored. And given newspapers’ continued brand advantage, they can set up their own local directories and beat the interlopers at their own game.
10. Get everyone’s ideas: If war is too important to leave to generals, saving the newspaper business is too important to be left to the publishing side. Encourage every part of the business to figure out their own top 10 suggestions to save the paper and reward the good ones.