Help StoryBoard Memphis stay in print! Read on.
I am writing to you now because it is about the time of the month when readers of our print journal would be expecting the latest issue of StoryBoard Memphis to be available locally at area Kroger stores, the Memphis Public Libraries, and over 60 other pickup spots.
No. . . this is not a letter announcing that we are folding our tents.
Quite the opposite: the paper is as popular as it’s ever been. After almost a year, Memphis readers are now truly catching on to this citywide community paper that is filling a gap in local feature journalism, at a time when daily papers nationwide continue to close. Almost all copies of our June issue were picked up off store racks in just two weeks, and our average weekly online views and site visitors have recently skyrocketed over 500% above previous averages.
We are absolutely thrilled to announce these numbers. However the popularity has put us in a challenging position: we are poised to grow, but our resources aren’t there yet. At this moment we are much like a new popular restaurant or lunch counter that has a line wrapping around the block with a wait time of over an hour, with only a few of us scrambling behind the counter to keep up.
But… the lunch counter analogy stops when one remembers that our product is free, both for pickup and online clicking. Our financial health continues to rely on advertisers, sponsors and subscribers at a time when many businesses choose to spend their advertising dollars on FaceBook and Google. Therefore, like any smart business, we are making some important adjustments for our long-term success. Here’s what we are doing to improve reader experience, and expand both our distribution and our community outreach:
>Temporarily combining some monthly issues into one production cycle. Starting immediately, the July and August issues will be combined into one “double” Summer Issue that will be printed by the end of August. The special, one-year anniversary issue will bring together September and October, and November and December issues will be combined into one Holiday Issue that will be printed before Thanksgiving. Reader feedback has told us that, because of the jam-packed content of each issue, this change will allow some readers to catch up on their reading. This also allows us to further improve the quality of each printed issue.
>Upgrading our digital platform. With regular online readers now in the tens of thousands each month, it is time for us to make all of our print stories available online and give partners and sponsors more online exposure. In today’s world, it is crucial to long-term success that digital is balanced with print, and to be more competitive in the world of digital advertising.
>Finally, we are transitioning StoryBoard Memphis into the nonprofit sector. As mentioned earlier, as more and more advertisers continue to abandon print advertising in favor of social media, print advertising revenues are decreasing each month. In addition, to increase our capacity – by hiring more associates and increasing our revenue streams – we are joining the hundreds of publishers across the nation that have already made the switch to nonprofit, allowing us to seek grant moneys and donations that we previously could not.
Already this month, StoryBoard is proud to announce that almost a full dozen active and passionate Memphians have volunteered their time and experience to become the charter board members of this new adventure. Stay tuned for more announcements in the coming months.
Subscribers, these adjustments do not change or dilute the purchase you made; rather, they allow us to deliver a more improved experience to you while also honoring our commitment to giving Memphis a quality print paper. And at less than $4 an issue, it is still a huge bargain.
Let’s face it, our local daily print newspaper here in Memphis isn’t what it used to be, and we at StoryBoard are doing everything possible to ensure that Memphis continues to have access to the important feature stories we’ve made available in print. We believe in it. You readers obviously believe in it, and more and more every day are being reminded of the value in it.
Help us keep it going! Please direct friends and neighbors to visit our website for the variety of options available to sponsors, advertisers, or new subscribers, so that we can continue to improve our revenue streams and reach the readers who want, and need, a printed paper. Click here to subscribe to the monthly print journal of StoryBoard Memphis. Click here for inquiries into sponsorship.
Personally, I won’t stop until I find that right formula that allows this paper to thrive for the longer term. I believe in Memphis, and I believe that it deserves a quality paper, and quality storytelling.
Mark Fleischer, Publisher
If you have any questions, please write me at the address above, on our website or right here via email at MarkF@storyboardmemphis.org