In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Dolan Media’s New Orleans-based media properties;which includes City Business, The Daily Journal of Commerce and a $4 million-per-year custom publishing business;turned to the Internet as their primary media outlet out of sheer necessity. That strategy paid off so well that the Minneapolis-based publisher is now adopting the same "Internet first, print second" formula across its entire portfolio.
So far, the emphasis online is also paying off in print via packaged deals. "It’s a different budget you’re tapping into, so we find plus dollars available to us," says Dolan. "It sounds contradictory but we’re able to get people to buy both to a greater extent. We’re doing online symposiums with a print component attached, so it can direct advertising to both. The variable pricing that Google has taught us all is proving very popular with advertisers."
Local Titles on the Mend
In New Orleans, Dolan’s City Business flagship is profitable now and has recovered two-thirds of its previous advertising volume. "That may not sound like much but it’s a big deal to us," Dolan says. "We’ve pumped up our rate card and there are no discounts. We’ve also adjusted our cost structure;not by reducing people but by producing more publications from the same shop."
Last fall the company launched a newspaper called The Journal of Jefferson Parish and has also expanded the coverage of its daily construction publication from Mississippi and Louisiana to the entire Florida panhandle. The company’s regional consumer magazine, City Life, remains suspended although Dolan may revive it later this year depending on the economy.
Circulation for the New Orleans properties has stabilized at about 14,000 right now and is growing about 10 percent a month;the same growth rate as before Katrina. "We’ve suspended serving subscriptions for people we couldn’t find," Dolan says. "For those we’ve found, there hasn’t been a single one who’s said, No, I don’t want to continue.’ However, we have not been able to find about one-third of our subscribers. They’re just gone."