One irony of the media landscape where newspapers find themselves these days is that the idea of creating a new revenue stream from print can seem—how to put this?—counter-intuitive.
But for Leonard Woolsey, the energetic industry innovator who now serves as publisher of Southern Newspaper Inc.’s The Daily News of Galveston County, Texas, print seemed a natural revenue well to tap.
Woolsey hit on the idea of creating a lifestyle magazine at the small—under 20,000 circ—daily newspaper.
“I mean, think of it, we already had the writers, we already had the photographers, we already had the printing presses, we had the salespeople and we had the distribution system,” he said during a presentation at the Key Executives Mega-Conference in February.
The result was Coast magazine, a product that publishes the last Sunday of every month. Subscribers get it with that Sunday paper, and have come to refer to the last Sabbath of the month as “Coast Sunday,” Woolsey said.
The magazine, which is now printed by a third party, has a literally upscale feel, with a pebbly cover suggestive of sand. That tactile quality has given Coast magazine a product differentiation that in turn has translated into traction in the market, Woolsey said.
That high end extends to what, if Coast were a film, would be called production value. The photographs have an upscale magazine feel even though, as Woolsey said, “The photos are taken by the exact same photographers who shoot the high school football games.” The models are often Daily News employees or other amateurs.
Coast allows Daily News salespeople not only to pitch new business for this new luxury-style product, but also, perhaps even more important, win back advertisers who left the newspaper.
“The real estate people left the newspaper, then came back through Coast—and then came back into the Daily News,” Woolsey said. “Our salespeople are talking to clients we have lost.”
Woolsey’s advice for newspapers looking to pursue revenue through print products is to follow this process: Identify your niche, commit to be great with the product, and study magazines with your eyes wide open for stumbling blocks. Finally, he says, “find your soul” in the product.
The bottom line on Coast magazine? “If we have a good year this year we’re going to make $1 million,” Woolsey said. “That’s a lot of money for a newspaper like us.”