By: Don Heinzman
This is the third of my series on how to make more money publishing a community newspaper. My nomination for earning more dollars from a section you already publish is: your SPORTS section.
Local Advertisers believe they gain customers by advertising and supporting the local teams, particularly when they are winning. Some advertisers played athletics, others coach and some have sons and daughters playing on the teams.
Some advertisers sponsor a good weekly sports column, and some have sponsored weekly Sports Stars presentation. At the start of the season, publishers naturally print Sports Preview sections and Salutes-to-the- Sports champions at the end of the season.
Here’s an important fact to take to the bank. Good sports stories are read by half of your readers (better than most other stories) who are intense because good sports sections should spark interest and controversy.
Now, let me be controversial. Some sports editors mainly like to cover high school sports contests that few students attend these days until tournament time. Meanwhile, in their communities, parents and grandparents are going to Little League, Club and Traveling Team events throughout the week and particularly weekends.
Your sports editor can argue that it’s too early to publish scores and names of little leaguers and glorify the bigger kids as stars. Really? Your sports editor with volunteer help can publish names of Little Leaguers in all sports that will be devoured by readers. At the end of the year, you can publish a special section with all the team pictures, with photos that can be supplied by the teams.
I once had a part-time sports editor who spent all day writing little league sports with hundreds of names, and our circulation grew and grew. Yes, many of the leagues have their own web sites, but people love to read names in print.
There’s a new level of sports mostly unreported at the local level – traveling and club teams. Parents of athletes with early potential are spending thousands of dollars on equipment and transporting them around the country. They are hiring special coaches and sending them to special sports camps hoping that someday they will earn a Division One university scholarship. (The Star Tribune has been writing a revealing series on how parents are investing thousands of dollars on their high school athletes hoping they will become stars on their high school teams.
Reporting on the players on these teams and featuring their sports achievements can have a payoff in more reader interest and more advertising revenue.
Try a few of my suggestions and have a winning sports section advertising revenue score.
Donald Heinzman, retired after 50 years in the community newspaper business, is a consultant for community newspaper publishers who want to improve their editorial product. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.