To survive, newspapers have to look beyond just a print product and The Crittenden Press has taken a big step

‘We have essentially become a newly styled company – a news agency, no longer just a newspaper.’

From Allison Mick, The Crittenden Press

A few years ago we decided that if The Crittenden Press was going to survive in the looming newspaper climate, we had to be more than just a newspaper. We took small steps at a time, engaged various media and social media platforms and today we can proudly say that we are a news agency, not just a newspaper.

The goal was for The Crittenden Press to gain the readership of Generations X and Y who weren’t loyal print readers and at the same time to capture revenue from non-traditional and traditional print advertisers. Like many others in our industry, we’ve had to re-think and re-learn what small-town journalism looks like.

My husband Chris and I were trained with X-acto knives and border tape, wax machines and layout tables and graduated to Quark Xpress after I convinced him there was a new layout tool I had learned at Murray State a few years after he was already in the real world. Fast forward another 20 years, and he is now self-taught in digital video production, making commercials and operating a makeshift studio where our four-unit Goss Community Press sat before we began outsourcing our printing. The learning curve has been steep at times, and there’s been a need for a delicate balance to save print yet embark on an effort to make money in a digital world.

Within the last four years, we have walked the tight rope, balancing to preserve print advertising dollars typically budgeted by our customers for The Early Bird Shopper and The Crittenden Press while offering digital advertising on multiple digital platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, SnapChat, Facebook and our website. We’ve built digital sites for our football and basketball teams which garner a great deal of traffic. We employ YouTube, Facebook video and Facebook Live for election coverage, a winter weather road report, live look-ins at news and sporting events, video news reports, a weekly football coach’s show and digital commercials. We work hard to funnel views and readers from our social media platforms back to our website, and our traditional printed product. (Sample news story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AmtJCuGpL8).

We are fighting to keep print alive and encouraging younger generations to be loyal newspaper readers, but we work equally as hard to capture digital consumers and digital dollars. Our mission is to remain viable, reliable and the trusted news source for our community.

While online advertising does not make up a huge portion of our annual advertising sales, it’s growing rapidly and quite frankly is the only source of sales growth.

We host links to advertisers’ websites, sell advertising in the newsfeed of our website and banners on the top of our web page and have grown our broadcast video capabilities.

We are a small weekly competing in a multimedia world. We have struggled with how to charge for these services, as our predominant measuring stick is cost per inch or price per piece.

One of our big broadcasting breaks was the production of a weekly football coach’s show on our YouTube channel. It’s not a typical “newspaper thing,” but when you live In a community where high school football is king, you play to that audience. It is quite a production and quite time consuming for a small staff that still has two other print publications each week. Yet, it has become a very popular endeavor that includes weekly conversation with the coach, player interviews and commercials filmed at local businesses.(Sample Rocket Coach’s Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvAr1WTmWmQ&t=7s).

With the development of our online news and sports coverage, we have essentially become a newly styled company – a news agency, no longer just a newspaper.

It is taxing at times, but we are expanding our brand and becoming an even more viable news agency that our community relies on daily. We average almost 4,000 views per day on our website and generate a great deal more traffic through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and SnapChat.

One response to “To survive, newspapers have to look beyond just a print product and The Crittenden Press has taken a big step”

  1. Allison Shepherd says:

    I’m proud to say this is my hometown newspaper. I’m so proud of Allison and Chris for continuing to look beyond the ‘way we have always done it’, and the future for the community I still call home, Marion, KY, and the Crittenden Press.

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