Press associations want to make newspapers relevant so NAM launches ‘Relevance Project’

One of the focuses of last week’s Newspaper Association Managers convention, that took me out of the office for a few days, was relevance.

Relevance of newspapers. Relevance of state press associations with ad sales services.

The Relevance Project is a “take back the night” movement. Its goal is to help newspapers and state press association-owned ad services get their mojo back.

New York Press Association executive director Michelle Rea, who served the last 12 months as president of NAM, began the conference last Wednesday with a presentation and update on the NAM Relevance Project.

Here’s a portion of her presentation:

“At its most basic level, the Relevance Project is a coordinated promotion and marketing campaign designed to reposition and rebrand state press association ad services and the community newspapers they represent, and position them for relevance in a digitally focused world.

“State press associations and the newspapers we represent share a common problem:  we no longer matter in the same powerful way we once did.  We have lost our unique roles and relevance in the marketplace.

“Restating the unique role and relevance of state press association ad services:  Together, the members of NAM provide the ONLY platform for local engagement on a national scale.  We alone provide local, on-the-ground knowledge of EVERY community newspaper in North America and the personal connection and market knowledge to drive the best results for our advertising clients.  No other entity knows the newspapers and the markets they serve like we do.

“Repositioning newspapers for relevance:  Relevance is the paramount driver of news consumption.  Citizens navigate a high-choice media environment with an abundance of ways to stay informed.  What makes content relevant?

  • Affects you and your life
  • Impacts basic life priorities
  • Reflects personal preferences
  • Is related to the work you do
  • Is geographically relevant
  • Is civically relevant
  • Is topical – local elections, health, education, environment
  • Is shareable – originates in the belief that family and friends might take an interest in the story

“The Relevance Project is working to create a movement which will gain momentum over time. It seeks to harness the collective reach of 9600 newspapers throughout the United States and Canada to create a uniform voice spreading important messages about the unique value we alone deliver.

“Developing the promotion and marketing campaign has been a difficult and time-consuming journey.  It is a journey that is ongoing today.

“The Relevance Project committee met in person for two days in San Francisco and again in Washington DC and met weekly by phone at least 40 times during the past year – sometimes we spoke two or three times per week.  To do this right took time.

“The promotion and marketing campaign is multi-dimensional with lots of arms and legs, and the various elements of the campaign will be expanded over time.

“The committee has developed a detailed implementation plan which follows.  The Relevance Project should not create a lot of additional work for state press associations or newspapers.   All materials will be provided in bite-sized pieces – pre-packaged, ready to use however you and your newspaper member choose.

“This is not a one-size-fits-all campaign.  It is not mandatory.  It is simply a large-scale movement whose goal is to remind citizens that newspapers are the glue that holds communities together and that the community forums that our newspapers shepherd are an essential pillar of our democracy.  And to remind ad agencies and clients that association-owned ad placement services provide the ONLY platform for local engagement on a national scale.”

This is still a work in process to an extent with marketing, fund-raising, a website and other particulars still be developed. A soft launch is scheduled for National Newspaper Week in October.

Michelle’s entire presentation is here in pdf form NAM RELEVANCE PROJECT PRESENTATION

More information will follow as the project launch date nears.

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