Wick Communications

Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

About that house ad…

In Advertising on 4 Dec 2014 at 4:38 pm

house ad photo

Alert Half Moon Bay Review reader Steve Thornton writes:

The ad for real estate agents on Page 5B of the Nov. 26 issue features a man playing with a dog on a beach. The dog is not only unleashed, it doesn’t even have a collar (so, obviously no license, either). …

Does the man have a point?

I’m not sure, to be honest. It’s a house ad, which means the fault, if any, lies with us here at the newspaper and not any particular advertiser. Publisher Bill Murray notes that we’ve been using that photo for years. It accurately reflects the way some folks use the beach. (Scofflaws!) We didn’t set it up; we just recorded what was going on and used that photo in a house ad.

Count me on the fence, I guess. I think we can agree there are greater crimes than allowing your dog to romp off-leash. It was merely meant to create the image of a fun, care-free place to live. What if we had a similar ad suggesting readers patronize local car dealers, and used a photo of a driver who was unbuckled. Would that be wrong, too?

I was happy to print Thornton’s letter and I think a bit of constructive criticism is healthy. It’s one of the things that makes what we do special. We take as well as we give, and most businesses don’t even pretend that is so.

What do you think? Should we have anticipated that reaction and picked another photo? Should we apologize? Should we include an editor’s note with the letter – or not run it at all? I’m curious what you think.



Is 2014 the year we go mobile?

In Online media on 9 Jan 2014 at 1:17 pm
Courtesy: Business Insider

Courtesy: Business Insider

There is growing evidence – anecdotal and otherwise – that a mobile information revolution is at hand. Some pundits (including the well-known media guru Alan Mutter, who compiled the stats below) are going as far as to say this is a rare second chance for those of us in legacy media companies to take the bull by the horns and fix what we messed up with the advent of the consumer Internet.

It’s hard to discount the numbers:

  • There was a 13 percent surge in online shopping in the fourth-quarter of 2013, much of it through mobile devices. (National Retail Federation.)
  • 70 percent of daily Facebook users report accessing it through a mobile device.
  • In this country, two-thirds of those with any mobile device at all have data-hogging smartphones, and tablet computers are in one-third of all homes.

Here’s a number for you: analysts quoted in Mutter’s blog post predict dollars spent on mobile advertising will triple in just four years. What’s more, half of that $20.7 billion spent in 2017 will be spent on “local media.”

Hey, that’s us! … Read the rest of this entry »

An eye on juxtaposition

In Business on 26 Apr 2013 at 9:28 am


I’m not quite sure what to say about the image at top. It’s the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s story on the pressure-cooker bombings in Boston … above an ad for a sale on pressure cookers. Oh boy.

We will probably all agree this is, shall we say, less-than sensitive to the sensitivities of a nation on edge after the deadly bombings. Readers won’t be mollified by a cumbersome explanation of the separation of ad and news departments or that responsible eyeballs were elsewhere then the page was put together. They will simply think editors foolish.

And the Star-Tribune wasn’t alone. The New York Times heard from readers about an online ad that ran next to its coverage from the Boston bombings. (I was fascinated by the discussion in the column and the mere fact that the New York Times has something called a director of advertising acceptability. I think the ombudsman and ad guys are wrong; I would have erred on the side of sensitivity rather than commerce that day.)

Let’s carry it one step further. Have you ever run, say, a story about a cancer survivor on a page otherwise covered in obits, or maybe a story about the children’s theatrical production next to a story about a child predator? I’m sure I have done things like that in my long career.

In a way, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with these juxtapositions. It is more a matter of tone and sensibility.

It is also a breakdown in packaging. I try to group school stories together. When possible, I put stories about the environment on the same page. In other words, I try to make navigation through the newspaper easier for readers with particular interests. And I try to keep really disparate things apart – like briefs full of children’s happenings and hardened crime stories. I think of it sort of like a color palette. Your living room may be earth tones; your bathroom pastels. … Read the rest of this entry »

The readers have spoken

In Ideas on 15 Nov 2012 at 5:04 pm

This year, the Half Moon Bay Review resurrected our once-popular Readers Choice awards. We stopped doing it about a decade ago because it was a big pain in the neck. Former Publisher Deb Godshall said that advertisers groused when they weren’t voted “best hamburger” and so on and that some folks stuffed the ballot box, among other problems.

Well, we bit the bullet and decided to do it again and I’m glad we did. I know that many readers of The Kicker know a lot more about running these things than I do, so I don’t presume to preach. But I thought I would share some of our lessons learned and things we might do a bit differently next time.

  • Readers’ Choice vs. Best. We all know that the business that gets the most votes may or may not be objectively the “best” in its field. That is, if it’s even possible to determine what is best. That is why we were careful to use the term “readers’ choice.” You might argue the local coffee shop is better than Starbucks, but you can’t argue with the number of votes.
  • Include non-business things. We had readers’ choice for beaches and hikes and local entertainers and so forth. That gives the enterprise a little break from the obvious marketing focus. It’s also a good way to counter anyone who says you are just doing it to make a buck off advertising.
  • Be really careful with tabulation. Make sure you print the correct names of businesses. Develop a system of counting that double-checks results. You don’t want to have to take it back after you’ve named a winner. … Read the rest of this entry »

We are not like them

In Innovation on 11 Oct 2012 at 8:18 pm

Stolen from Bob Hoffman’s “Ad Contrarian.”

It turns out there is an important disconnect between media pros and the people they are trying to reach. As a result, advertising types may have misplaced faith in digital media and inadvertently downplay the reach of traditional media, particularly television and radio.

I come to these conclusions after a decidedly non-scientific study done by the Media Behavior Institute. (I actually read about it first on Bob Hoffman’s blog.) Researchers asked “media pros” and regular old people to record their daily behavior. Here’s what they found:

  • 92 percent of media pros use mobile apps, compared with only 25 percent of the world at-large.
  • Half of the media insiders used a social network and accessed it for 19 percent of their waking time; fewer than one in five real people bothered with social networks and those who did used them much less frequently. … Read the rest of this entry »

It’s the pictures, stupid

In Photography on 23 Mar 2012 at 8:19 am

Quick: When you goof around on Facebook, are you more likely to comment on a photo your friend posts than if it were merely a text post? On Twitter, are you most likely to click links for instagrams? When you look at your newspaper, what draws your attention first? Is it the photos?

There is growing evidence that we are increasingly sharing photos on the Web and that we are perhaps innately drawn to the images others post as well. And technology has given us all the opportunity to shoot nice photos and post them directly to some sharing site in a matter of seconds. Photography is no longer the realm of professionals with expensive toys.

That has real-world implications not only for those of us in the news game, but for our advertisers as well. AdAge columnist Chas Edwards talks about all of this in a very important column.

Pinterest, for example, is an exploding site that allows users to “pin” photos of things they like on their bulletin boards. Friends see those images and you can be sure many of them are intrigued enough to buy these things. Businesses have had success with Craigslist and eBay, in part, because they can post photos of their goods, and those pictures tell a thousand words to a potential buyer.

All of this should be gratifying to professional newspaper photographers. If images are the newest currency of the Web, that should translate into a new value for their work. I know a winning photo on your website will attract readers. Because of the success of these new social media toys, that should be more obvious than ever.


Be careful with sponsorships

In journalism on 15 Oct 2010 at 8:02 am

OK, I know where New Hampshire Union Leader Publisher Joe McQuaid is coming from. Times are tough and if someone offers to send you overseas to cover local boys at war, it’s tempting. It’s also a bad idea.

McQuaid and a photographer went to Afghanistan to cover a local National Guard troop. He was fairly transparent about the fact that the newspaper wouldn’t have been able to swing it if not for generous payments from a trio of New Hampshire companies, including a defense contractor. That should have given the veteran newsman pause. But when the newspaper wrote a cheering editorial extolling the virtues of said defense contractor, well, the newspaper had clearly jumped the rails.

McQuaid has gotten a ton of heat for accepting a free trip to Afghanistan. The Newspaper Guild wrote that it wasn’t a good idea. A number of journalism blogs cried foul before this one. And dozens of commenters on the newspaper’s own Web site have complained. Making matters worse, McQuaid has dug in like the soldiers he is covering. He called complainers among his own readership “moronic.” Oh dear… Read the rest of this entry »

Another brick in The Wall

In Guiding principles on 11 Jun 2010 at 8:27 am

I want to talk for a moment about The Wall. Not the Pink Floyd album I used to listen to at ear-splitting volume in the dark of my parents’ basement … the other one.

I’m talking about the wall that traditionally was said to separate advertising from editorial at the nation’s best newspapers. Scary topic, I know.

Back in the day, news types would go on about their independence from financial concern of any sort. They would froth at the mere mention of advertisers influencing copy. They would use their shift key a lot in these discussions, conjuring the capital letters and capital ideas of the First Amendment, the Fourth Estate and so on. We were incorruptible. We were invincible!

Or course, many readers never believed any of this for a second. A lot of people always thought the big car dealer called the editorial shots. Sometimes the critics were even right. Read the rest of this entry »