Tribune takes paper to the streets
May 22, 2003
Your community newspaper since 1958 will expand its reach this summer starting Friday. The Tahoe Daily Tribune will hand out 3,000 free papers to tourists on the weekends in the casino corridor as a means of gaining more exposure for local advertisers.
The paper boy idea is the brainchild of Publisher Paul Middlebrook, a longtime South Shore resident.
“Managing Editor Kathryn Reed has increased the quality and viability of the product and the advertising department has increased the sales effort. And with those efforts, we wish to make the paper more readily available in the community,” Middlebrook said.
Teenagers, who have undergone training, will sling old-fashioned canvas bags and yell out: “Get your paper.”
Hawker programs at other community dailies have been quite successful and well received — even boosting single-copy sales for one California daily in San Diego County by as much as 30 percent in the first month.
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“It’s a bit nostalgic. We wanted to make it showy,” Middlebrook said.
The teens will stand in front of the casinos and Stateline area-motels west to the Holiday Inn Express on Highway 50. Papers will also be handed out at front desks of hotels.
The Tribune will be covered with a special advertising supplement that at times may be devoted to timely, targeted events — for example, a welcome to arriving conventiongoers. The idea is the four pages surrounding the newspaper give South Shore businesses the chance to tell tourists about their goods and services.
The goal of the free distribution program is twofold.
By reading the Tribune, the tourist will share in the Tahoe experience. Case in point — when the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority’s advertising agency conducted research for its Blue World campaign, it found visitors want to emulate the lifestyle enjoyed by residents. Some tourists admit they’re downright envious. Others end up moving here permanently.
“When I first came here 23 years ago, I thought: ‘God, look at this. Wouldn’t it be great to live here,'” Middlebrook said. “This is why second homes and time-shares here have skyrocketed.”
Many travelers who seek culture and knowledge about their destination pick up newspapers to get in the know. Middlebrook is no exception, returning from Hawaii with a Honolulu Advertiser.
With more visitors reading the newspaper, the benefit to local businesses becomes obvious, he added.
“We’d like to increase the value of the Tribune to tourist-based businesses,” he said.
On weekdays, 1,500 free papers will go into the the hands of visitors.
Middlebrook views the investment in the expanded reach as a bold move based on the premise that in tough times spending money for promotion represents a necessary component to success.
“In most communities people look at the paper as a gauge of a successful area,” he said.
The improvements and changes don’t end with the street corner.
The Tribune will soon undergo a remodeling job that will transform the building and make the offices more user friendly.
There’s even talk of adding another day to the five-day-a-week paper’s schedule.
“We’re spending a great deal of money to know our market,” Middlebrook said.
— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at email@example.com