With COVID-19 pressing many families to cancel distant summer vacations, it’s a good time to consider publishing one or more “StayCation” sections.
Our Iowa Information team produced a four-week series of “StayCation” sections in 2011 when America’s high gas prices also kept families close to home. That series, published over four Saturdays, focused on the four counties surrounding our base community of Sheldon. As a weekend regional newspaper, we have paid circulation in all four counties.
This year we’ve kicked off a repeat effort that will see us publishing 15 weekly sections for communities from 400 to 7,000 population. Each section will focus on finding fun things the family can do while staying close to home.
The advertising dollars for the sections can come from numerous sources: local grocery stores promoting picnics and cookouts, convenience stores and restaurants offering easy to take-out treats, the community Chamber of Commerce promoting local shopping as well as local events, the city manager or clerk, the community economic director, local clothing stores, shoe stores, local banks, hardware stores, sporting goods stores, pharmacies, lumberyards, new and used car dealerships, automotive repair centers, fencing contractors, lawn care equipment dealerships, landscaping firms, new home construction and remodeling firms, electricians, plumbers and heating and air conditioning firms to name a few.
If there is nearby boat access to a river or lake or perhaps a campground, nearby boat dealers and RV dealerships are also good prospects.
At Iowa Information we publish our sections as broadside sections in process color in our N’West Iowa REVIEW. Here are possible story ideas for creating a “StayCation” sections:
1. A special food experience such as a picnic in the park with food from the local bakery and meat locker, a resident known for their unique potluck dish or a resident who caters meals out of her home.
2. Local day trips such as museums, historic homes and overnight campgrounds.
3. An interview with a senior citizen comparing family gatherings 50 years ago to the ones today.
4. Interesting historical information about how the local golf course, city park or baseball field came into existence and how it got its name.
5. Why this year’s community celebration won’t happen, why it will be missed and what might be done instead.
6. What the community is offering this summer for the youth and adult activities. Are there any new unique programs?
7. A story on how some hometown family has redone their backyard for increased summer fun. A new deck, firepit, for example, or a pool, hot tub or playground equipment. Be sure to sell advertising to the suppliers.
8. Interviews with local residents about the many new experiences they are enjoying while staying home this summer.
The sections can be fun to do and are easy to sell. The expected revenue from each section can easily run from a low of $2,000 to as much as $4,500.
Peter W. Wagner is founder and publisher of the award winning N’West Iowa REVIEW and 13 additional publications. You can receive his free monthly GET REAL newsletter, written exclusively for State Press Associations, by contacting your association manager. CLICK HERE, to get his free PAPER DOLLARS email newsletter for publishers, editors and sales managers. The two monthly email newsletters contain information completely different than the monthly Publisher’s Auxiliary column and are available without charge or obligation. Wagner can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling his cell at 712-348-3550.