Monday, January 05, 2009

Text of ContentOne memo on Obama inauguration

Following is the text of a memo about Gannett's first attempt at trying the new ContentOne publishing initiative. I got it from a reader who redacted some proprietary information.

The Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, President Barak Obama, January 18-21, 2008

Set an overall company goal to create additional readership, circulation sales and advertising sales activity by capitalizing on one of the most historic Inaugural events of our time, the Inauguration of the United States' first African-American President, Barak Obama. There are several strategic benefits including promoting the significance of this historic event to home delivery subscribers and to single copy buyers, while aligning advertising opportunities for advertisers to drive consumer behavior and create results for our advertisers.

The overall strategy includes:
  • A turn-key content plan with a special section being produced by corporate news and ContentOne
  • Digital Site
  • Circulation Opportunities
  • Advertising Opportunities
  • Marketing and Promotions
Gannett will be coordinating coverage through ContentOne across all platforms. The ContentOne inaugural web site will power online coverage before, during and after the January 20 inauguration. While the website will be one product across all of Gannett it will allow for local branding, traffic and ad sales. Additionally, there will be numerous options for print and digital opportunities as follows:

1. There will be an eight-page broadsheet section created at corporate for insertion on Sunday, January 18th. Local Newspaper Sites are encouraged to download this turn-key section, with content produced and shared through ContentOne. Multiple advertising sales opportunities are built within the section to maximize ad sales. The section will be available to newspapers on Tuesday, January 13, 2009.
2. Local Plans for January 20, Inauguration Day: 1A: Monster promo on front page promoting historic Inauguration. Plan for strong refers to inside coverage as well as promotional refers to the Wednesday, January 21 edition for complete coverage, photos, local reaction and more.
3. Engaging Readers in Print: As journalists plan coverage of the inauguration, it's important to remember the importance of engaging readers with us and our coverage.

Reader-involvement ideas don't always come as easily as spot-news and enterprise plans.

Here is a menu of some ideas gathered from around Gannett. We share these to encourage you to partner with your readers in interesting, fun ways. Several of these could attract advertisers' interest in adjacencies or sponsorships.
  • Essay contest for students: Students could be asked to submit essays around a theme you identify (a message to the president, an examination of the significance, etc.) You could gather them the first two weeks of January and run the winner in the special section on Jan. 18 (if you're using it). All essays could be posted online.
  • Students help write the speech: Invite classes to write the opening paragraphs of the inauguration speech. You could circle back afterward and see how theirs compared to Obama's.
  • Good old mugs and quotes: Gather lots of people-on-the-street vignettes asking what the inauguration means to them. Sprinkle liberally throughout the advance coverage.
  • Readers share their ties to the inauguration: People throughout our communities have interesting connections – businesses are part of the event, residents are planning trips. Ask for readers to submit their photos and blogs to connect the dots across the community.
  • Capture the interest in history: Ask for photos from past inaugurations. Ask for stories of encounters with past presidents. Ask for photos/anecdotes about interesting campaign memorabilia.
  • Letters to the president: You could ask students to write letters about what they hope the president will accomplish. Or, could turn to adults for the same thing. The letters could be posted online, with selected one presented on the opinion page.
  • Be sure to get all sides: Just as we balance our journalism, we need to balance our outreach to readers. Remember, whatever you do, to include people who didn't vote for Obama and who retain skepticism. This may require special outreach.
  • Seek readers' editorial cartoons: Editorial cartoons can captivate readers. Ask readers to try their hand at sharing their perspectives via original artwork.
  • Time capsule: Partner with the local library to fill and bury a time capsule. Enlist readers in nominating what should be in it, where it should be buried, when it should be opened.

Gannett Digital is producing a turn-key digital solution, packed with national content and advertising, but with room for local content and advertising to be framed with our local brand. The site will be available January 6, 2009.

The microsite, specifically, is planned as a turnkey solution, packed with national content and advertising, but with room for local content and advertising as well. It will be delivered to you and your readers under your local branding.

By now, you should have received various communications from Gannett Digital and Gannett News Service about how this will work, and what local setup and implementation is needed. Our goal is to make it very easy for your technical and editorial teams to plug this product in and get the most out of it. You will receive information on sales opportunities, including a local and national e-commerce portal. We have provided detailed support documentation on technical implementation so your customers and your Information Centers can benefit from the robust budget of great coverage that will flow through your local sites.

You can learn more about this project at http://sps.gannett.gci/areas/digital/portal_projects/inauguration/ , a SharePoint site we've set up within the Gannett Digital extranet. (You will need to be on the Gannett network and use your network password to get in.)

ContentOne inaugural site will power online coverage before, during and after the Jan. 20 inauguration. It will be one product with local branding, traffic and ad sales. On it, will be the best of USATODAY's national coverage, local site local coverage, WUSA-TV's live video feed through Mogulus. There also will be a cross-network VOD sampling via Mogulus and Washington-specific entertainment listings through Metromix that will serve your local customers who may be going to DC for the celebration. The site also will allow for and encourage local coverage.

We are planning a three-week window for this site - two weeks before the inauguration through one week after - with live-coverage emphasis on Jan. 19, 20 and 21 – when interest will peak.

This site will be sold to advertisers based on the potential for more than 50 million uniques, and there will be local advertising opportunities.


Objective: The Inauguration event should afford us the opportunity to capitalize on the historic nature of this event to drive additional single copy sales, as well as leverage the opportunity through sales messages to capture new home delivery subscribers. Anticipate strong sales the entire week of January 18th-25th. Local newspaper content will be the driving force behind our circulation sales efforts with full sales support from circulation. This includes strong draw management and merchandising.

Our 2009 January 21 single copy incremental plan calls for sales of XX,XXX plus XX,XXX bulk. This would result in approximately $XX,XXX in incremental circulation revenue. Single copy goal is to sell 90% of the gross metro draw.

Single Copy Sales:
  • Maximize secondary positions at major retailers. Are second locations within key retailers available for the one-day special event?
  • Meet with store managers to ensure that POP materials are front and center and positioned appropriately to maximize sales.
  • Develop special POP/Use available Catalyst POP for promotion of the special 8-page broadsheet section for Sunday, January 18th, as well as additional POP for Tuesday and Wednesday, January 20, 21.
  • Consider the role of vending boxes. It may be a high pilferage day where consumers buy out an entire rack at the single copy price of $.075 and then sell them on the street at a much higher rate and take those profits. Maximize the sale of the newspapers while considering limiting the draw in racks and moving more newspapers to dealer locations.
  • Review post-Election Day Wednesday sales from November, 2008. Review sales, sellouts and returns by geography and by retail category. Buying patterns should be similar to post-election day.
  • Consider Lobby sales. Have more newspapers available for walk-in customers.
  • Consider bundling the November 5th and January 18th, January 20th and January 21st papers into a souvenir bundle at a premium price. Proceeds could benefit NIE.
  • Hawking Opportunities: Leverage opportunities to sell hawker copies at strategic locations.
Home Delivery Sales:
  • Maximize opportunities to connect with non-subscribers who may be infrequent readers but have a high interest in this historic event.
  • Target of infrequent readers is atypical in that it is not made up of a single group, but rather, it includes a collection of demographics including females, younger readers and African-Americans.
  • Leverage the "History is Happening Now" campaign on Catalyst. Campaign includes FSIs; Exact Target e-mail template; Web banners; Direct mail piece; In-paper ads.
  • The offer featured on these materials is a discount on a year-long subscription payment as well as the option of paying monthly with EZPay.
  • Leverage the theme, "History happens every day," which will resonate with readers, particularly during this historic event.
All materials available at:


The print effort from ContentOne will consist of an 8-page broadsheet section scheduled to run on Sunday, January 18th. The section is designed to be an a complete package, although pieces may be used separately as desired.

For Newspapers running the entire section, there will be space available for four, (4), horizontal half page ads on pages 2, 3, 6 and 7. The back page will also be available as either a full page or horizontal half page.

Who to target and what is the message?

The Inauguration in 2009 represents an opportunity for advertisers to become part of history and to brand themselves as a company looking to the future. The mistake would be to target advertisers based on perceived political leanings. Rather you should look to marketers who have a stake in showing that they are part of the national solution to the challenges facing America. Examples could include financial institutions who want to show their fiscal responsibility or medical facilities highlighting their commitment to the community. In either case the message would be one about moving and growing into a changing future. Another group of advertisers may be attracted to the opportunity to be a part of history. Literally tens of thousands of newspapers were sold on the day after the election this year as citizens scrambled to not only read about the event but put aside a copy for posterities sake. Any advertiser in the section would enjoy this additional readership and forever be included in those keepsake editions.

NEWSPAPER Media promotion
  • House ad leading up to January 18th with message, "Be a part of history" appealing to advertiser-readers who own businesses, are politically inclined, or want to place their advertising message around this high-readership event.
  • One-sheet for sales blitz to sell additional advertisers into paper around the extra promotion/hype.
  • Introduce special pick-up rates for smaller advertisers to be a part of the hyped week of coverage
  • Sell ad adjacency positions in the special January 18th section.
  • Sell special online impressions/positions framed in the special Digital Microsite

Objective: Generate buzz surrounding the content and historic nature of the January 18-25th editions of newspaper through internal and external promotion and marketing efforts.

Promotional Message: Special Coverage: 2009 Inauguration – History Unfolds Everyday.

Creative: Catalyst creative team at corporate has developed a complete turn-key campaign centered around the Inauguration. The elements of the home delivery campaign, single copy merchandising and POP materials and pre-promotion all tie together in look and feel to provide a unified, cohesive, comprehensive package with little local customization needed.

Asset List for Catalyst Creative includes:
  • Special Section Rack Card – promotion of the special January 18th section
  • Special Section Dealer Card (retailer POP) – promotion of the special January 18th section
  • Content Promotion – 3 x 10 in-paper color
  • Content Promotion – 3 x 10 in-paper B&W
  • Content Promotion – 3 x 5 in-paper color
  • Content Promotion – 3 x 5 in-paper B&W
  • Online leaderboard
  • Online skyscraper
  • Online content well
  • Exact Target e-mail template to subscribers
  • Exact Target e-mail template to non-subscribers
  • Content promotion radio script: 10-second "sponsorship" tag
  • Content promotion radio script: 30-second spot
  • Special Coverage Rack Card – promotion of the January 21 edition
  • Special Coverage Dealer Card (retailer POP) – promotion of the January 21 edition
  • Content promotion – 3 x 10 in-paper promotion of January 21 edition
  • Content promotion – 3 x 5 in-paper promotion of January 21 edition
All materials will be available January 5 on Catalyst at:

  • Front-page memorabilia sales:
  • Coffee mugs that feature your front page
  • T-shirts that feature your front page
  • Special photo reprints of your front page
  • Front-page press plates, sold as a premium
  • Bundled "historic editions" in a packaged bag with "Historic Editions" label including the post-election newspaper, January 18th special section, January 20 and January 21 editions. Sell at a premium price with proceeds benefiting your NIE efforts.
  • Press-releases to other local media outlets that outlines special coverage efforts leading up to and through Inauguration Day.
  • Digital outdoor boards on Inauguration Day pointing readers to your content in print and online.
  • Online ads on niche sites like to promote microsite and special print coverage.
  • Other
  • Other
  • Other


  1. I'm speechless for the first time in my life!!!

  2. Well that's that then. Might as well wrap a local section round USA Today, or inside it, and call it a day. Whatever.

    For those of us who believe in local autonomy, this is a big fat nail in the coffin. No big surprise, though.

  3. Crap-a-rooney. But utterly predictable crap-a-rooney.

  4. Is it just me, or do others find themselves just a tad suspicious of journalists who can't even spell the name of the President of the United States?

  5. Awesome idea. Wall Street likes it too. Glad I bought stock at $6.50 a share. It's at $9.00 today. Guess I'll take my 28% profit. Lots of money to be made with Gannett. One just has to look beyond the emotional comments on this blog and look at the fundamentals. This is the third time I've made a 20% profit on this stock in 90 days. Luv you guys, thanks.

  6. Oh boy.
    Can't wait to see the editorial cartoons readers pen for free.

  7. I had much higher hopes for Kate Marymont. If this is the sort of stuff she's going to do, we might've been better off sticking with Currie.

  8. I may have accidentally deleted a comment that said (I'm paraphrasing) that this effort did not reflect well on new News Department Vice President Kate Marymont, and that if there was more of this, the department might just as well have kept Phil Currie.

    ContentOne needs to be given a chance. It's one of the first new ideas with promise that I've seen in more than a year of blogging about Gannett. Plus, keep in mind: ContentOne apparently got hatched only in the third quarter; Corporate is throwing together this sucker on the fly. (And, possibly, with Tara Connell running the show on the Q.T.)

    Finally, Kate Marymont's involvement is a plus in my book -- if she is the same editor I recall working with in Little Rock.

  9. Actually, this is pretty smart. When I worked for Gannett I never did understand why they did not do more consolidated coverage for national events. Certainly much more efficient than 90 odd local versions of varying quality. Also lets them sell national or regional ads

  10. Actually, ContentOne may have been hatched as late as the fourth quarter.

  11. I'm still not seeing a decent marketing approach to get people who don't pick up the newspaper or go to the local online site. I see a lot of references to old-fashioned "in-house ads" -- which only work for those who read the print editions. And cheesy things like coffee mugs and T-shirts don't work. There is mention about radio ads, but that's about it.

    There is a big opportunity here to gain customers who normally don't read the local paper -- can't corporate develop a decent marketing strategy to gain new readers? Why not try high-quality commercials on TV (not like the lackluster NY Times ones) or TV-like promo spots for the Web? Developing quality commercial advertising is one big way to show potential buyers (and perhaps long-term customers) what we have to offer.

    I may have missed it -- but I didn't see any good marketing strategy for an otherwise decent-looking plan that they're cobbling together on the fly.

    I've always been bewildered and angered by the lack of decent marketing efforts of any newspaper (looks like the Wall Street Journal is beginning to understand this). Hopefully the chiefs at my paper -- and at corporate -- realize that now is the time for change, and that smart marketing of our products is essential for survival (sorry folks, honor box rack cards don't cut it).

  12. Jim, many of us remember Kate Marymont's days as a solid journalist in previous jobs. We're hoping to see some evidence of it in her new job. This list of "story ideas" for the ContentOne insert/wrapper isn't what we're hoping for. But maybe, with time, the old Kate will shine through.

  13. Is Gannett still a news organization or is it now an event planning/PR outfit?

  14. My gosh, what a long memo ... blah, blah, blah, blah, blah ...
    Bad idea, too. Really bad idea.
    Who are the ContentOne editors and reporters? Where is their office and what do they do there?
    Canned copy.
    Every Gannett paper looking and sounding the same.
    And exactly how is this supposed to save the heart and soul of newspapering?

  15. Why did the advertising info come from Jeff Bergin instead of Leslie Giallombardo? Isn't she the VP of Advertising? I thought Jeff was the national guy? Hummmmmm.........

  16. Did I miss something? Who the hell is left in circulation to "maximize the single copy and home delivery sales opportunities"? This must be another Helen Hoffman program.

  17. Do you really think buying patterns will be similar to what was experienced the day after the election? I don't.

  18. What's going to happen the other 50 weeks of the year?


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

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