Cran Press: Route 130 resurfacing project in Cranbury now complete
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PostPosted: Fri, Jun 30 2017, 3:16 pm EDT    Post subject: Cran Press: Route 130 resurfacing project in Cranbury now complete Reply with quote

Cranbury press Headline June 30, 2017:

Route 130 resurfacing project in Cranbury now complete

The headline should have been:

Route 130 resurfacing project in Cranbury now complete except in Cranbury.

Governor Christie visited South Brunswick to brag about his accomplishment, but somehow forgot to come to Cranbury. I don’t know how Greenstein, Benson or DeAngelo allowed this to happen. Where were out county officials?

I used to be a subscriber to the Cranbury Press 20 years ago when there was actual coverage of local news, but I stopped my subscription years ago. A copy of the press was thrown in my driveway today.
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PostPosted: Fri, Jun 30 2017, 5:54 pm EDT    Post subject: Re: Cran Press: Route 130 resurfacing project in Cranbury now complete Reply with quote

Agree, but aside from farmland the county pays no attention to Cranbury. We don't have a voter block and we're on the border of Mercer. This is why I always say school consolidation is a horrible thing for Cranbury. All we would do is have our money funneled even further out of town so New Brunswick, Edison and other towns with more voters would get our money.

I remember asking in the 1990's the Trenton times editor why they never covered Cranbury. He was honest and said his readers don't care about Cranbury. It's taken time, but the Cranbury Press is there now.
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PostPosted: Fri, Jul 7 2017, 10:41 pm EDT    Post subject: Re: Cran Press: Route 130 resurfacing project in Cranbury now complete Reply with quote

In all fairness to the Press (I used to be the editor), there is no money to pay for Cranbury coverage....plain and simple.

Whether it is the Cranbury Press or our TAP Into South Brunswick and Cranbury website, there is virtually no financial support from the Cranbury business community or residents to keep local news in town.

All of the money, with the exception of (and this is a three-year total from two township businesses) of $239, our site has taken in is from South Brunswick business.

Nicole and I would LOVE to cover the community MORE....but unfortunately our rents come due like everyone else.

We, like any other business, need paying customers to survive.

If they are not there, the business goes away.

We don't even charge a subscription for news on our site, just the financial support from local business advertising.

Those dollars in our industry have pretty much dried up.

We don't even get political ads at all anymore during election season.

It basically comes down to what the community is willing to support. If the money is there to pay our expenses and time to cover and write about things...we will. If it is not, we are not independently wealthy to just donate our time...can't do it.

There are plenty of ways for businesses and even individuals to support local journalism if they choose to...we provide a link in EVERY story for supporters to throw us $5, $20 or $50, but we have taken in ( about three years...) only $100 that way.

While at the Packet, I saw the editorial department disintegrate from 80 to just 5 from 2010-15...reporters, editors, etc.

The thing is, if everyone who read our stories kicked in just $5 each...we would have made about $70,000 last year alone...instead of just under $12,000.

I'm really not complaining....just providing the context and the truth of why local media outlets aren't flooding the township to cover things. We simply can't afford it until the community gets behind us.

And I will tell you that clock is ticking down for us and we are literally praying the support is coming before next April or it is likely we will not renew our contract for the site for another three years.

At the end of the is up to you, the Cranbury community, just how much coverage you have.

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PostPosted: Sat, Jul 8 2017, 7:27 am EDT    Post subject: Re: Cran Press: Route 130 resurfacing project in Cranbury now complete Reply with quote

But why do people advertise? It's not because you have the best writers or number of staff. It is Because they will have their ads read and seen. I won't spend money on something that won't give me a return.

If the Press actually covered Cranbury and gave people a reason to read then dollars would follow. Unfortunately, Hank Kalet as editor focused more on national editorials and the Huff post that turned off many readers. When it then started to focus more on Monroe and then merged with the messenger press there was less reason to read. In turn people stopped subscribing and reading. They cut staff further now maybe one article a week and now there is zero reason to read.

The same with Tapinto. I used to visit your site twice a day. But with all the focus on SB I rarely go to your site.

So unless you give people a reason to go to your site or read the Press no one will pay attention. Once you give people a reason to visit then ad revenue will follow.

Perfect example is Facebook. They built a model where people had a reason to visit and wanted to visit multiple times a day. Ad revenue and data mining grew huge because they could show people were visiting and what their interests were.

What the Press and Tapinto should do is not reduce budget and stories. That just kills your business. But you should invest in making the site and Press something people feel is essential. Otherwise you're just killing your business slowly. Just like the swim club. They didn't change the model, focused on what they always did and now it no longer exists. They didn't focus on what might attract new members.
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PostPosted: Sat, Jul 8 2017, 4:11 pm EDT    Post subject: Re: Cran Press: Route 130 resurfacing project in Cranbury now complete Reply with quote

The reason our site is more focused on South Brunswick is simple...they are paying the bills.

As far as people seeing ads...our site alone has an average of 25K views a month....through our network of 60 sites that number is more than 2 million a the "money will follow" statement is just not true at all.

Our advertisers enjoy the industry wide response rate for online display ads...we are right there with everyone people are clicking and responding to ads on our site.

But you have to realize there is something bigger at work here. News is actually our "product," not advertising....advertising or sponsorship is the method we use to collect the money that pays for the news....our product.

You cannot have content without people paid to create it or edit and curate it...sometimes it's just being a good corporate neighbor to help the community keep abreast of what is happening...the advertising response is an added benefit...but so many businesses look at it as a primary focus instead of branding and keeping their name in front of large numbers of people.

The longer people see your logo or ad....the more likely they are to do business with you....that doesn't mean you put up an ad and expect to have people flooding through your doors that day, month or even quarter....but consistent advertising in news WILL eventually bring you new and repeat business over time that will more than offset the cost of the advertising.

And from another lens...we are a local business ourselves...why should we do business with a local business that won't patronize us?

With so many choices out there, I would rather go to Teddy's for dinner than Chilis....and do whenever we are in Cranbury and actually have money in our pocket to....we do that because George does business with us.

That is the real secret sauce to small business success, we all work with each other and support each other rather than national concerns.

That is the thing that has been lost....local classifieds going to dealerships and realtors no longer being major news advertisers...these things have dropped revenues significantly so that the organization cannot pay content creators...reporters, editors, etc.

Then the amount of coverage drops causing less readers...causing less ad revenue...leading to more cuts to editorial....and then repeat....down and down to nothing.

If two people...with little overhead except their own salaries can't bring in $50K a year to survive ($25K each), that is pretty sad...just $1K a week...we are lucky to earn that in a month.

That is less than $150 per a business person, you would probably be sadly shaking your head if you brought that in on a daily basis and would probably be closing your doors in fairly short order.

The Press and South Brunswick Post cost about $10K per week to produce as of 2014...$520K per year...and that was AFTER substantial editorial cuts to staff.

We are NOT doing this with a plan to get rich or anything, just to be able to do what we love to do for the communities we cover...we are doing our best to hold up that part of the bargain...but advertisers and readers have to keep up theirs by supporting what we do.

Businesses can get a directory listing on our site for just $240 a year....but most do not do that...even though it is a great deal and includes photos and videos if they want as well as a decent-sized write up.

I'm sure businesses in Cranbury and South Brunswick waste more than that in other ways...for one-off events and things...I know they do.

One township business that remains anonymous, spent $4,000 to sponsor four events for the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce that gave them exposure to a total of about 100 people over a four month period.

Compare that to sponsoring a section of news on our site for a whole year at $3,000 which is available all day, everyday to about 300,000 readers...we do have the value....people just don't see it....or care enough about it....bottom line.
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PostPosted: Sat, Jul 8 2017, 7:37 pm EDT    Post subject: Re: Cran Press: Route 130 resurfacing project in Cranbury now complete Reply with quote

I understand and agree local businesses should support each other. But...

If like the Press there aren't any articles that are of interest to readers then no one will read the Press or go to your site.

The Press by reducing staff and not writing articles about Cranbury is killing itself slowly. They are better off to just close. If they want to survive then they need to be relevant. That means investing in writers and writing articles people will spend money to read. Do that and you get advertisers. But, no one is going to spend a dollar to read one article that may or may not be of interest.

With Tapinto if there is no new news then why go to the site? I visit the NY Daily News and Post twice a day because there is new relevant content.

If Tapinto did 3 new articles on Cranbury a week you'd have more readers and thus more advertisers.

Simple economics you need to create an interest and demand.
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PostPosted: Sun, Jul 9 2017, 10:47 pm EDT    Post subject: Re: Cran Press: Route 130 resurfacing project in Cranbury now complete Reply with quote

Investing is the key word there. You cannot produce anything without it, or have ROI.

We canvassed the entire downtown of Cranbury a few times since starting our site in May of 2015, and despite the growth in readers during that time, no significant ad sales have come in.

According to your statements, we should be rolling in advertising revenue after growing our site three or four-fold since then....but INVESTMENT in what we are doing.

We started with more Cranbury content, but no dollars followed.

As the main Cranbury reporter has student loans, car payments and other obligatory expenses, she has had to seek other full time employment that, as of now, takes her away from TAP for 45-60 hours each week.

If the community supported this at a rate of just $102 per day....$3,100 month, we would be posting 8-10 new stories a week about Cranbury....10 businesses at $300 per month, which is pretty cheap advertising for what they get...with most print advertising, that is a low rate and the exposure is much better and always available 24/7.

Again, for most businesses, just bringing in about $210 a day would never keep their doors open...I would imagine they would need closer to an average of $1,000 a day (some days busier than others) to make it work...we are 80% below that and still can't seem to find the customers.

Another issue is finding a decent marketing person to go out to these businesses during the week...can't find anyone willing to work on commission to do it.

So that leaves just one person full time to do marketing, reporting, editing, photography, etc. with a second person with only limited availability currently.

With a decent investment from the business community in Cranbury, we could produce much more content and have the resources to pay these positions on an hourly or salaried basis.

The initial plan was that, by the three-year mark, we would be earning about $90,000 per year which would pay the two of us and a salesperson a salary and benefits and have a bit leftover to hire freelancers to fill coverage gaps.

Once the investment in local news is there....we can definitely produce enough to make the site relevant daily...the goal is 5-10 stories per day...there is enough news between the two towns to do that and do it well....but that cannot happen with pennies coming in the door.

On average, we have around 8,000 individual readers a month and some 25,000 page views which fluctuate depending on stories....some months we are close to 40-50,000 views....some stories get near 10,000 alone, depending on what is going on.

If each reader spent just $10 on us, we would make that goal easily....but they don't and advertisers are not doing it either.

You can't have more content without the investment in the content creators....the answer here is the more investing into our site, the more coverage the towns's an easy equation.

Cancelling subscriptions or ads only causes less content. If you want to see more local news content, then that is the time to invest more in those companies....not less....when you get more neighbors to subscribe, sponsor or advertise instead of cancelling.

The more you put in, the more you get....the less you put in, the less you get.

As co-publisher of our site, I guarantee you that if the community pledges $3,100 per month in total (businesses, individuals) we WILL have 8-10 Cranbury stories on the site every week.

There are big enough businesses in Cranbury to accomplish this, the New Brunswick TAP site, for example has four $2,500 a month sponsors contracted for a full year, giving that site $120,000 to use and they are doing well and have a full time salaried reporter who does 2-4 stories a day. The only difference there is that the mayor and city council helped and encouraged them in finding sponsors.

I don't expect that from Cranbury, but I do expect those in town who like what we do to stand with us and support us...if not...there really is no point to it.
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PostPosted: Mon, Jul 10 2017, 9:29 am EDT    Post subject: Re: Cran Press: Route 130 resurfacing project in Cranbury now complete Reply with quote

I think we need to distinguish that Tapinto and the Press were in very different life cycles.

Take Harley Davidson and Apple. Harley Davidson had to rebrand itself and get out of bankruptcy just a few decades ago. They rebranded by selling add-ons and making the bikes attractive to the middle age individual. Apple was dying it took Jobs coming back and a 150m deal with MicroSoft to save the business. They then changed society with the iPhone, IPod and IPad.

The Press is like those companies. Their business decisions and editorial direction impacted that audience and led to a loss in subscribers in turn that loses ad revenue. Rather than make a corrective action to recapture readers they focused on meeting current revenue not trying it seems to fix the reason why the revenue was lost. They cut staff, merged papers, etc...But that just further turned off those who create their revenue.

It is illogical for people to invest money in any business in the hope of a correction.

Tapinto is in a different space an emerging business. You had three challenges: 1) Tapinto itself is/was not well known a few years ago and is still not to many 2) Getting people to know and learn about new electronic news sites takes some time (see Patch with AOL) and 3) With those challenges you then had to create an audience for your own news. That is aside from the investment capital requirements.

To be candid, you were doing very well. However, since this thread started I have gone to the website multiple times and it's the same stories posted. I get all the issues and concerns you raise impact the stories wirtten, but then it is a business decision. If I have a store and only stock a few items and have a number of bare shelves with little new inventory how many customers will come back?

If you make the site content new then you'll see recurring credible hits in readership. Then Tapinto Corporate and Tapinto SB/Cranbury can market the data.

You're never going to be sustainable if your model focuses on selling to downtown Cranbury businesses. That is a proposition that will end your business quickly. SB and Cranbury are not New Brunswick. The businesses just don't have margins.

If you focus on selling your readers to businesses in the surrounding areas you will suceed. Cranbury is cash rich and if you use the daily hits and access numbers to show businesses that these cash rich readers are visiting your site then ad revenue will follow.

The only place for any news now for Cranbury is your site that is an asset. SB has the Trenton Times and Home News competing with you. So use what strength you have like Harley did and look at your model to see how you can create value.

Harley saw they were trying to sell 20K bikes at the time, but losing share to the Asian bikes. They changed their model by allowing people to test drive the bikes. They went to dealerships across the US with a trailer and bikes offering test drives (it was an insane idea at the time), but as they expanded their trip out they were finding longer and longer lines of people waiting to drive the bike. They found that people who were lining up to test drive a Harley end up buying them.

They saw that people who were buying Harleys were customizing them and those Harley buyers were loyal. They again rebuilt their approach. Their catalog went from maybe just over 100 pages to the size of the yellow pages so people and people could do whatever they wanted to their bike via Harley.

I raise this because if Harley did nothing and just reduced staff to stick with what could be done for current revenue then they would not exist today.
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PostPosted: Mon, Jul 10 2017, 10:08 am EDT    Post subject: Re: Cran Press: Route 130 resurfacing project in Cranbury now complete Reply with quote

Some of the above speculation seems to ignore the more fundamental reality which is that the vast majority of print newspapers are suffering. Regardless of anything that was editorially done by Hank or others (and I totally agree he was a poor, inappropriate editor), the Cranbury Press would have struggled. It's unrealistic to support a dedicated for profit paper in a community of 4,000 people with only dozens of viable business advertisers in an age where print subscriptions are at an all-time low. Cities with 50x the population of Cranbury or more have seen their local papers fail. Heck, the Star Ledger is struggling and it has no real NJ competition on a state-wide level (the Trenton Times is in a different, lesser league). The Star Ledger has cut staffing way back, has less advertising and other than a small team of actual in-state reporters the majority of it's content is now reprinted from the national wire services. Both the NYT and the WSJ have cut their dedicated local sections which are now just a couple pages way back in the main section of the paper. This is the nature of the industry in a age where fewer people read news at all and those that due often just read the headlines they can get for free on their newsfeeds (and rarely past the headline).

As for Tapinto, I've lost count at the number of major plays to create hyper-local news platforms and so far none of them have succeeded, neither here or elsewhere.

So we can all debate the field of dreams on whether if you have great local news they will come, but nothing suggests that is true.
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PostPosted: Mon, Jul 10 2017, 2:49 pm EDT    Post subject: Re: Cran Press: Route 130 resurfacing project in Cranbury now complete Reply with quote

Thanks for the advice.

We, as a separately owned and operated franchise, can only solicit ads in South Brunswick, Cranbury and towns that are not yet franchised.

We CAN sell ads into other franchised towns and they CAN sell into us, but we are limited as most other franchises are by geography.

That said, Cranbury only needs to support at $3,100 per month....about $100 a day...not huge numbers at all...but the businesses are not.

If Cranbury...and I say this only because this is a forum for that town, simply supported its share...SB could do $6,000 a month...we would be fine....again, no one getting rich here, just paying basic expenses to maintain.

The entire thought was to stabilize this franchise and develop probably 5-7 more towns the same way...thus making the business long-term and sustainable.

I know we do the best of all other outlets in providing information to residents as was pointed out, but we never felt that either SB or Cranbury would not, at some point, support our efforts.

We are, unfortunately, involved in the one business where people literally take a product without paying for it at all....and that is ok...think how many times you read a news story from a publication either online or standing in line at a checkout in a store and then put the publication back on the shelf.

If that happened with even a stick of gum...opening it, taking a piece or two then putting it back on the shelf without paying, police would be called, etc.

If had my way, people would pay $.25 to $.50 every time they read a story....on our site that would generate between $50-$5,000 each depending on reads and this entire conversation would be moot....the money directly for content creation would be there....and then some.

We don't charge for subscriptions and rely totally on the business community...however, individuals can, through a link on our site contribute voluntarily to us...a virtual honor box like you would use to get a copy of a paper on the street or in a store....virtually no one uses this and it has generated only $100 in three years at $5, $20 or $50.

This is the hardest part to take, as I see it, that even those who do appreciate what we nothing to support it...therein lies the problem.

My time is mostly spent these days developing strategies to get more advertisers, putting packages together to see which ones the market can support...instead of being out covering the community or writing stories.

Most businesses should be spending 5% of each transaction they take in to advertise for new customers....that is the industry standard. We take that into consideration when we approach businesses and develop plans to fit that strategy. We want businesses to not only support us, but to do that for the long term....we are not looking to sell them an expensive, cumbersome product, but one that is affordable for them and will eventually reap benefits and a steady customer base.

I understand that it takes more customers for a business with an average $20 transaction than say a car dealer with an average transaction of $10,000 to make a plan work...and we treat each accordingly.

In SB, I do have a "core" of support from about five different businesses that renew each year and support us...that is what we need in Cranbury.

There are enough businesses there that could do this if they choose to.

Our plans start at just $20 per month...far less than other it can be done regardless of business size.
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PostPosted: Thu, Jul 13 2017, 7:02 pm EDT    Post subject: Re: Cran Press: Route 130 resurfacing project in Cranbury now complete Reply with quote
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