Newspaper asks former subscribers: ‘What happened to us?’

The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader started sending a solicitation to former subscribers that’s one part gauzy memories, one part regret. “What happened to us?” it starts. “We used to be inseparable?”

The newspaper acknowledges it’s “not the best listener” and suggests it could “drop by” on Sundays. “I could come by more often than Sundays, but I don’t want to be a pest,” it reads. “I miss you and want you back!”

Reached by phone, Herald-Leader Vice President of Audience Development Aaron J. Kotarek said he was “pretty happy with the early returns” from the campaign — not just the resubscriptions (there have been a few) but also people who got in touch to talk about the paper. Some talked negatively about what they perceived as the paper’s political orientation, he said, and others said they enjoyed its University of Kentucky sports coverage, as well as its education and transportation verticals.

“This wasn’t a scorched-earth mass mailing,” he said. “Basically, what we looked at was former subscribers who stopped their subscriptions in the past 90 days.” He wanted it to look different so it would stand out from their other mail. If nothing else, he said, readers could “maybe grab a chuckle at our expense.” Media companies don’t always take enough chances with their mailings, he said: “I think we need to be nontraditional.”

Herald-Leader's "Miss You" letter

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  • JTFloore

    at least one of the things that has happened to newspapers — or that they did to themselves — is they fired many of their best, most credible staffers who had built up followings and credibility among readers. newspapers often did not replace them at all or, if they did, they replaced them with inexperienced people who have no institutional memory, who have no idea what was happening prior to three months ago, who have not had time to establish their own footing and credibility. in other words, in several different ways, newspapers shot themselves in both feet, not a good tactic for nurturing a long, prosperous life.