Mark NienhueserSelling digital services and products to advertisers is one way newspapers can strengthen their relationships with advertisers — and potential advertisers — while bringing in additional revenue, says Mark Nienhueser, advertising director at Missouri Press Service.

Nienhueser and MPS want to help small rural newspapers offer a “digital toolbox” to their local merchants. The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute is supporting MPS’s work with a 2015-2016 institutional fellowship. Nienhueser will be the project leader.

Newspaper staff will sell various digital services, built and maintained by MPS and partner vendors, based on merchants’ needs for reaching their digital and online audiences, says Nienhueser.

Knowing that newspaper companies have limited staff and resources, MPS’ project will serve as a “back office” for newspapers, he says.

Digital services in the toolbox

MPS has piloted a digital services program in Missouri but the fellowship will allow staff and vendors to create more service offerings, and share the services with all member newspapers across the state.

One service helps clients establish a social media presence. MPS or its vendor creates social media pages, trains clients on how to post content, or posts content for them. Another service creates mobile-friendly websites, which are maintained by MPS. In addition, MPS plans to expand its Online Newspaper Ad Network, which was created to assist clients with digital advertising placement on newspaper websites.

As smaller newspapers transition their products onto social media platforms and mobile friendly websites, many of their advertising clients are struggling to do the same because they lack the time, manpower or expertise, says Nienhueser. MPS wants to help newspapers provide those resources.

“We have a marketplace that is thirsty for these types of things but they don’t know who to trust.  The newspapers have the built-in trust,” says Nienhueser. “[These clients] haven’t had a price point that makes sense to them, and now we can cover that, as well,” he says.

Nienhueser anticipates helping other state press associations create digital services toolboxes for their member newspapers, too.

* Photo taken by Shelby Feistner.

Jennifer Nelson  
Senior Information Specialist


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