The parent firm of the Chattanooga Times Free Press has reached an agreement with a firm that specializes in "digital marketing solutions."
WEHCO said it is joining with LocalEdge, a Hearst Media Services Company, to offer LocalEdge’s "comprehensive suite of digital marketing solutions to local businesses in WEHCO’s daily newspaper markets."
Consultants will assist businesses under WEHCO’s new division branded, 121 Digital Marketing, it was stated.
The announcement comes after WEHCO publisher Walter E.
Hussman Jr. issued a "letter to our readers" in the Saturday and Sunday Times Free Press in which he said advertising revenues were no longer sufficient to sustain the print newspaper.
He said the Chattanooga Times Free Press would continue to publish seven days a week and cover a wide area, but he said the newspaper would need to turn to subscribers for additional revenue to keep the print product going. The letter did not say how much charges to subscribers would be going up.
Mr. Hussman said at one time about 80 percent of a newspaper's revenues were from advertising, but he said there are now many ad options available and that print newspaper advertising revenues have fallen by 54 percent in just the past six years.
The Chattanooga Times has been in print operation in Chattanooga since 1869, and the Free Press since 1936. The two papers merged in 1999.
WEHCO said 121 Digital Marketing will serve as its sales force for digital marketing. The digital products and services include: website and mobile website design and hosting, video production and integration, search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), mobile advertising including SMS (text) marketing, email marketing and social media development, display ad retargeting, press release syndication, reputation management and online development, as well as easy to understand reporting that demonstrates return on investment.
“There is a great demand for these services, but businesses want to work with someone they know and trust. By providing these digital products and the expertise we acquire through a LocalEdge partnership, we strengthen the value of service and return our advertisers will experience,” said Conan Gallaty, executive vice president for digital at WEHCO Media, Inc. “The power of the platform this brings, in combination with our daily newspaper’s high-traffic websites, provides an unmatched ability for promoting local businesses and brands.”
WEHCO Media has 14 daily newspapers that will assist local businesses in their communities, including papers in Arkansas like The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of Little Rock, The Banner-News of Magnolia, The Benton County Daily Record of Bentonville, The Camden News in Camden, The Eldorado News-Times in Eldorado, The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette & The Northwest Arkansas Times of Fayetteville, The Rogers Morning News in Rogers, The Sentinel Record of Hot Springs, and The Springdale Morning News in Springdale. Outside of Arkansas, The News Tribune of Jefferson City, Missouri, The Fulton Sun of Fulton, Missouri, The Times Free Press of Chattanooga, and The Texarkana Gazette within Texas will also provide expertise with widely accepted internet marketing services, it was stated.
The daily newspapers will also provide their online readership and local businesses within each market the benefit of an integrated local search directory on the individual news’ sites, WEHCO officials said.
Mr. Hussman said, “This allows us to provide web-based marketing solutions and more targeted one to one advertising for our customers. By partnering with LocalEdge, we can offer the latest and best technology.”
Officials said WEHCO Media "joins a growing network of newspapers and advertising agencies that are LocalEdge partners within the LocalEdge Advantage Program including among others; the Albany Times Union, Connecticut Post, The Dallas Morning News - 508 Digital, Houston Chronicle, the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Radius Group, Morris Communication’s - Main Street Digital, San Antonio Express-News, San Francisco Chronicle, seattlepi.com, and The New York Daily News."
“Online, mobile and social are becoming the first layer of essential characteristics for today’s local business owner to market themselves in acquiring new customers and maintaining a loyal base”, says Jeff Folckemer, president & CEO of LocalEdge and a SVP of Hearst Newspapers. “The LocalEdge Advantage Program supports great media companies like WEHCO Media with the technology, training and services necessary to help today’s business’s develop and mesh fundamental online strategies for achieving their goals”.
Officials said LocalEdge is "a premier multi-media company leading the transition to web-based advertising for any size business."