Propellerheads at Newspaper Conference

propellerhead_NAA_2.jpgAttendees at the Newspaper Association of America annual “Connections” conference were — no joke — wearing “propeller head” hats. Martin Nyberg of consultancy Borrell Associates was there:

Today there was one major meeting of all the gathered forces to hear the “new initiative” to counter the negative press about declining newspaper ad revenues, readership, circulation, etc. The group spent 90 minutes hearing a specialist from The Martin Agency lavish praise on the great value proposition that newspapers offer advertisers and how to get that message to those advertisers.
And, to “get the swagger back.”

Then the lights dimmed as they all donned hats with tiny plastic propellers on top and watched a presentation of the new ad campaign to be launched next month. The campaign pushes the point that newspapers are the only medium for which advertising is a destination, not a distraction. In this campaign, they also hope to create value from their heritage, i.e., being a centuries-old industry. The ads have the look of parchment and scrolls and feature Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin.

Martin writes that he thinks the propeller head hats were about trying to get “lift” (marketers love that term) though he’s sure “no one made the connection.” The conference, focusing heavily on the internet, is also all into “branding:”

Breakout groups discussed Audience Metrics, Hiring for Digital Media Operations, Increasing Revenue, Audience Contributed Content Best Practices, and (my favorite), Hot Topics — which today was “Question: New Brand, or Old Brand, or… Both.”

We hope newspapers realize they need to worry about more than how to name their digital brands.