Cincinnati Enquirer launches ad campaign featuring reporters 'in their own words'

After a while, all the pity and gloom starts to get to people working in newspapers. The Cincinnati Enquirer is trying to change that.

“You bump into people and they’re like, ‘Aww, you’re in the newspaper business. I’m sorry about that,’” says Mark Woodruff, vice president of market development for Enquirer Media. “It got to a point that we’re tired of hearing that kind of positioning coming at us.”

In response, Enquirer Media recently launched a marketing campaign of 30-second video ads on local cable TV and YouTube, as well as print ads. They don’t tout readership statistics or special sections of the paper, and they don’t use actors. It’s just journalists, talking about what they do, why they love it and why it’s important.

The campaign is called “In their own words.” So far two video spots have been produced.

In one ad, columnist Krista Ramsey begins, "I have notes from readers stuck all around my cubicle. One says, 'The community is counting on you.' Another says, 'You make the invisible visible.' " Ramsey concludes: "Every single day I write to help this community, my community, be its better self. You want to make a difference, start with me."

The other ad is from business reporter and columnist Laura Baverman:

Since her ad started airing on TV, Baverman has received a lot of story ideas and heard from many people who were surprised and excited to see a newspaper reporter become more than a byline, she told me in an interview.

It has helped her build trust and recognition with readers, Baverman said, which is important “especially in these tough times when people think newspapers are going away.”

“I’ve been at the Enquirer almost three years, and I’ve seen four rounds of layoffs and I’ve had furloughs every year,” Baverman said.

“At the same time, I personally feel really hopeful because I see a progressive staff in place, a new editor (Carolyn Washburn) with a lot of energy and excitement and willingness to try new things. And she is telling us we need to change the message. We need to get out there and talk to people and be in the community letting people know that we care.”

The goal of the campaign is to show confidence, inspiration and passion from the real people who make up the Enquirer, Woodruff said. The company wants the public to see it is serving an important and active role in the community, that it offers value to consumers and advertisers, and is enthusiastic while going through a transformation.

The campaign will continue through 2012, later featuring other Enquirer employees, including some ad sales staff talking about how they meet the needs of businesses, Woodruff said.

The marketing exec said there has been some talk about the Enquirer’s parent company, Gannett, replicating similar campaigns in its other local markets.

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    Jeff Sonderman

    Jeff Sonderman is the deputy director of the American Press Institute, helping to lead its use of research, tools, events, and strategic insights to advance and sustain journalism.


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