A little advance notice, please?

I’ll be blunt: Newspapers are dying. But not for the reasons you think.

It’s true that we increasingly get our information via an electronic device instead of from a dead tree, it’s likely even more true that newspapers are doing themselves in. So let’s amend our opening statement: Ineffectively managed newspapers are dying.

Exhibit A is my hometown paper. Yesterday was Victoria Day here in Canada, a statutory holiday during which most businesses close up shop. In many cities, daily newspapers don’t publish. Here, however, our local rag had always had an edition on stat holidays. Until yesterday.

The paper had decided to stop publishing on stat holidays. Unfortunately, they neglected to tell their readers. A quick check of the Saturday and Sunday papers found no mention of the upcoming circulation policy change. Nothing on their web site either. Their call centre was inundated with calls from angry subscribers, wondering where their papers had gone. They presumably weren’t happy when they were informed after the fact.

Lesson learned: Whatever business you’re in, be up-front with your stakeholders whenever you change your policies in ways that can affect them. Don’t let them figure it out for themselves. Overcommunicate if you have to. A little proactive messaging can go a long way to keeping the people who matter engaged.

Otherwise, you’ll end up being just as relevant as that dead tree over there.

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