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5 Reasons the Star Tribune is Growing Print and Digital Circulation

By Scott Olson on Thu, Oct 25, 2012 @ 11:44 AM |


Last week we told you about how Newsweek and The Orange County Register are refocusing their efforts to make their magazine and newspaper successful for the long term. While Newsweek is going the all-digital route, The Orange County Register is headed in the other direction by focusing more on their print product and going so far as to abandon their late-edition iPad app. While each publication has to determine what’s best for their individual organizations and properties, the Star Tribune, based in Minneapolis, is putting extra effort behind both print and digital and seeing results.

There are five main reasons the Star Tribune is seeing these results and they are outlined below:Jeff Griffing Headshot Star Tribune CRO for Print and Digital Newspaper Advertising

  1. They started by talking to their readers and assessing their needs and wants before making any changes. Mediaspace interviewed Chief Revenue Officer Jeff Griffing and he told us about the research the publication did prior to making assumptions about readers and trying to give them what they want without asking first.

  2. The Star Tribune doesn’t think like a traditional publisher. Part of that is hiring a team who hasn’t traditionally worked in newspapers. Griffing’s background includes spending two years as the Publisher/VP of Sales for Sports Illustrated following more than five years as Publisher/President of Transworld Media. As Griffing says, “We’ve made being naïve to the traditions of traditional newspaper companies a strength, yet tried our best to keep all the  wonderful things of a 150-year-old company top of mind. The simplest way to explain it is that we act and make decisions like a 150-year-old start-up.”

  3. They package their content in new and modern ways. Paul Kasbohm, Vice President of Sales,paulkasbohm was recently featured in Today’s Grocer. As part of his interview he supported Griffing’s idea of talking to readers. “The Star Tribune took a focused look at what content is important to our readers, then expanded the newsroom.” For years the perception was publishers were focused on advertisers and trying to prove themselves worthy of their ad dollars. The Star Tribune focused first on readers, knowing the advertising would follow. This has led to four consecutive six-month periods of growth in circulation. Not many publications across this great nation can make that same claim.

  4. They are taking advantage of their history. Just because the publication wants to think like a start-up, doesn’t mean they have to forget about their history. Instead they capitalize on it. “Star Tribune is the largest media brand in the state,” Kasbohm said. Because of this they can take that brand on multiple platforms including mobile apps, paid content online and two non-subscriber print services. Kasbohm quoted Publisher and CEO Mike Klingensmith who described the options for subscribers: “Readers can now consume Star Tribune content on more than a dozen platforms, from tablets and mobile phones to e-readers and prep sports websites. All of these platforms work together to complement—and increase demand for—our core print product, the daily newspaper.” Brilliant.

  5. They created a win-win-win. By starting with the readers, and the desired subscribers, the publication was able to provide the information people want, in a medium they are willing to pay for. This medium is unique to different audiences, but the content is agastar tribune has grown print and digital circulationin king. As Kasbohm said, “It’s a true win-win-win for our readers, our business and our retail advertising partners. And as 24 consecutive months of growth indicates, it’s here to stay.”

What it all comes down to, over and over again, is creating the type of content people want to consume and offering packaging options important to them. When you do that, you can experience consistent growth. What ways do you package your content and keep in touch with your readers/subscribers? Tell us in the comments below. And if you want the full interview with Jeff Griffing or tips on integrating print and digital campaigns, download the interview or our latest ebook below.

Click me Download the CMO's Guide to Integrating Print and Digital Media 

Jeff Griffing Star Tribune newspaper circulation digital circulation