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

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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