Commercial Opportunities for Newspapers -- Know Your Strengths
In addition to staying with work that speaks to the company's core competencies, Schmitz feels it is vital to leverage advertising connections when possible. Producing a daily newspaper (70,000 daily/78,000 weekend) provides credibility, reliability and a community connection, she feels.
Schmitz also offers a bit of advice that perhaps is lost on some non-newspaper members of the general commercial printing community: tracking costs. She encourages newspapers to have a firm grasp on their production costs. Their accounting process should be firmly established.
"At first we took the attitude of, 'Ah, we'll just add this on to another shift,' so we never really understood the cost of the process," Schmitz remarks. "So when we bid on jobs, we were kind of shooting in the dark sometimes.
"Go out and get affiliated with commercial printing organizations, because the margin that a newspaper has is much different than the margins that a commercial printer accepts. A lot of newspapers fall into commercial opportunities but, if they really want to grow, they'll need to understand the margins maintained for competitiveness."
Meanwhile, back at the Kansas City Star, Ross is on a mission to hire someone who can spearhead the commercial initiative, a candidate with the knowledge and know-how to make the paper successful on the commercial level.
"We have a tremendous amount to learn," Ross says of the commercial side. "But we've been in the printing business for 125 years, so we know how that works."