September 2013 Community Journal Newsletter
Interlink customers in the spotlight
Whether it was moving into the organization’s top leadership positions, winning awards or making presentations, Interlink customers were in the spotlight from start to finish at the recent NNA Convention and Trade Show in Phoenix. Above, long-time customer Philipsburg (MT) Mail Publisher Tom Mullen, left, leads a panel that includes another long-time customer Publisher Bill Tubbs of the North Scott Press in Iowa, seated far left. Later in the convention, long-time customers moved into the top two leadership positions. Blackshear (GA) Times Publisher Robert M. Williams, Jr., became NNA’s next president, and John Edgecombe, publisher of the Nebraska Signal became vice-president. (Click here to read Williams’ speech to convention attendees) Also, Valenda County (NM) News Bulletin Publisher David Puddu began a second term as a regional director. And, to round out the convention, Interlink customers won numerous awards including taking first-place General Excellence honors in three of the four non-daily categories: Sangre de Cristo Chronicle, Angel Fire, NM, in the circulation under 3,000 category; Jackson Hole News & Guide, Jackson, WY, in the 6,000-9,000 circulation category; and The Examiner, Beaumont, TX, in the 10,000 and above circulation category. Interlink customer West Point News, West Point, NE, received a second-place General Excellence award in the under 3,000 category. (Click here to see more photos from the convention.)
What’s really in it for the community newspaper publisher?
By William E. (Bill) Garber
Interlink founder and chairman
All calculations start with the 14 cents per subscription that adding Full-Service Intelligent Mail will add to Interlink’s annual license fee.
Savings from just Automation Rate discounts that require Full-Service Intelligent Mail as of Jan. 26, 2014, will exceed the Full-Service Intelligent Mail cost differential for more than 90% of Interlink clients.
In short, when considering only Automation Rate discounts, 90% of Interlink clients will pay less cash out in 2014 while using Interlink Circulation than if Interlink had kept its 2013 license rate and had not included Full-Service Intelligent Mail.
However, total savings is a more complex measurement. And, a much higher number. Let’s be more specific.
- Address Change Service (ACS).
- Savings from one yellow sticker per week at 55 cents per sticker: $28.60 annually.
- Retained $39 subscriptions due to electronic address changes after the first week, rather than after the 10th week using the yellow sticker service, estimated at only one subscription saved every other week: $1,014 annually.
- Full-Service Intelligent Mail is implied to secure new USPS service level standards for newspapers.
Without Full-Service Intelligent Mail sack and tray tags, newspaper mail can be expected to suffer increasing delays at random intervals. With delivery issues being the number one cause of distant subscription renewal failures, it is realistic to expect that Full-Service Intelligent Mail will retain distant subscriptions at least equal to the number of subscriptions retained by switching to electronic ACS: 26 at $49 annually, or $1,274.
Let’s keep in mind there were two million Full-Service Intelligent Mail mailings last year. So this is not some untried imaginary system, but a system with proven design benefits that for the first time in history are not dependent on increasing mail volume, but come into their own even more so as mail volume declines, as it has been for some years now.
- Full-Service Intelligent Mail is the critical path to cost reductions within the Postal Service.
CASS processing is designed to accurately identify the destination of each mail piece and to sequence pieces within a bundle with precision. This is how to reduce handling costs in a delivery system with fixed staffing levels.
Full-Service Intelligent Mail is how to predict staffing levels required on a per-shift, per-facility basis. And, for the first time in history, the Postal Service has a workforce that is sufficiently flexible that it can staff to volume rather than facility. With 80% of delivery cost accounted for by the workforce, this is how to keep delivery costs in line with declining mail volume. If Full-Service Intelligent Mail succeeds in minimizing postage increases by just 10% going forward, the annual community newspaper savings will be: $20 weekly, or $1,040.
It is encouraging to keep in mind that UPS and FedEx can nearly double their workforce during the holidays and just as reliably deliver more than twice the number of packages using the same technological approach that Full-Service Intelligent Mail is built on. With the Postal Service delivering more items every two weeks than FedEx and UPS combined deliver worldwide in a year, Full-Service Intelligent Mail has the potential to keep postage low while dramatically improving service level standard compliance.
On the basis of these three benefits, total annual value to the typical community newspaper will be over $2,200 in retained subscription revenue and $1,000 in reduced postage going forward, and that is in addition to the Automation Rate discounts previously recognized and in 90% of the cases has already paid for the new Full-Service Intelligent Mail capability in Interlink Circulation.
Keep in mind that Full-Service Intelligent Mail has been added to Interlink’s historical 2008 license fee for just 14 cents per subscription, or $210 annually for a 1,500 subscription community newspaper on which the above figures are based.
Like a community newspaper subscription itself, we believe the value of the 14 cents per subscription that Full-Service Intelligent Mail adds to Interlink’s license is actually a pretty amazing value.
Interlink Circulation is Full-Service
By Brad Hill
Earlier this month, we released Interlink Circulation version 2.3, and with it passed a major milestone as publishers of mailing software. This update, one of the most significant we have produced in recent years, includes everything necessary to submit mailings that meet the upcoming Full-Service requirements of the U.S. Postal Service.
As a reminder, after Jan. 26, 2014, all Full-Service Intelligent Mail requirements must be met in order to claim the automation rates previously granted by simply printing a barcode with the mailing address. Full-Service is about much more than automation rates, and there’s a lot of good information explaining what else Full-Service means.
Here’s what has changed in Circulation to support Full-Service:
Electronic Submission of Postage Statements (a.k.a. eDoc)
In order for a mailing to qualify as Full-Service, the postage statement must be submitted electronically. This is as easy as clicking the “Send to USPS” button from the Mailing Reports screen after selecting the issue to send.
New Tray / Sack Tags
The Intelligent Mail tray barcode, or IMtb, changes the layout and information that prints on tray and sack tags. These tags include a special serial number that links the tags to the specific mailing they were created for, meaning tray/sack tags cannot be reused or saved for future mailings as in the past.
New Setup Options
In order to submit postage statements electronically, Circulation needs to know which USPS account to use. We added a new menu item called Configure PostalOne! where USPS Business Customer Gateway account information is entered and can be verified prior to submitting a postage statement.
If, like most Interlink customers, you’re already printing the Basic IMb on your address labels, and especially if you have been submitting your postage statements electronically, the move to Full-Service using Interlink Circulation is straightforward.
Note that Circulation 2.3 offers Full-Service for Periodical Mail only. Interlink is in the final stages of our work and testing on Standard Mail and will release that in an update soon!
Publisher Emeritus Wallace Vernon, far right, of the Eldon Advertiser, a longtime Interlink customer, heads the line of past Missouri Press Association presidents as the MPA President in 1973 during the gavel-passing ceremony at the MPA Convention this month in Kansas City. Others pictured include: Interlink customer Donald Warden (third from the right), retired publisher of the Gasconade County Republican, MPA President in 1993; Wallace Vernon’s son, Dane Vernon, MPA President in 2002 (sixth from the right); and Gary Sosniecki, MPA President in 2004 (eighth from the right).
MPA Photo by Kent Ford
Gloom and doom about newspapers;
that’s not us they are talking about
By Donald Dodd, Publisher
Salem (MO) News
Reprinted with permission
A little over a week ago a bunch of us got together in my office and talked about which direction we need to head with electronic delivery of The Salem News. I use the term “electronic delivery” because what we do these days is more than just a print edition and a web site.
First, let me say that the print edition of The Salem News isn’t going anywhere. Many community newspapers are faring OK or pretty darn good despite a poor economy and the glib news that you read and hear about newspapers in large metro areas, where they are losing readers and revenue at an alarming pace.
Not so for many community newspapers, especially in rural areas such as Salem. We keep telling our advertisers not to listen to the gloom and doom on the nightly news about newspapers. That’s not us they are talking about.
While the economy has taken a toll on most everyone, many community newspapers have great readership. When you include electronic media such as web sites, phone platforms and many other things I am having to learn about, the reach of a community newspaper such as The Salem News is greater than it has ever been.
Take for instance the Washington Missourian, a neighbor newspaper just to our north in Franklin County. Tired of hearing about the death of newspapers, they hired a group to do a survey. They found that 92.5 percent of Franklin County residents read the Missourian when you combine the print and digital platforms, and that 85 percent read the newspaper at least once a month. More than half of the readers made a purchase due to advertising within the past 30 days.
That is astounding.
While all community newspapers can’t boast of the numbers the Missourian can, community newspapers are doing pretty well overall and are actually capitalizing on the Internet to make a strong brand even stronger.
A survey by the Newspaper Association of America found that seven in 10 adults access content from newspaper media each week.
That is astounding, too.
Anyway, after our electronic brainstorming meeting the other day and reading about the survey conducted for the Missourian, I started crunching a few numbers of my own. The Salem News and thesalemnewsonline.com combine to reach over 18,000 people a week, according to our online readership numbers and industry standards for pass-around rates for the newspaper.
I don’t know if those numbers would get us to the 92 percent that the Missourian enjoys, but it would get us really close.
Point is, community newspapers that have seized the opportunity to have a good web presence and keep printing a good newspaper are providing things that readers like, and advertisers like readers.
On the electronic side, we will soon have a better mobile version of our site. We plan to increase news updates and videos on thesalemnewsonline.com and have an online store where you can order a picture of your daughter shooting a jump shot, or even have it placed on a coffee mug. It is exciting to see all the possibilities the digital age gives us.
On the print side, we are going away from the weekly Senior Living section and going to What’s Next: For Baby Boomers and Beyond. We will kick it off with a special section in September. We are also redesigning the sports page this fall.
People like our newspaper and web site. They tell me so almost every day. I am proud of it, and I am especially proud of the employees who make it that way.
So next time someone tells you that newspapers are dying, let them know that yours is doing pretty darn good, and it plans on getting better.
How cool is Marathon county?
Well, after last week’s county board vote, incredibly cool.
We are so…we’re smokin’ hot.
Following up on a Community Handprint Study, the county board voted without objection to spend $91,760 in tax dollars on five grant proposals from local agencies, both public and private, to hip up the county a notch and lure young, highly-educated professionals to this area.
Our Balmain slim fit jeans are snugging up just below our waist just talking about it.
The general idea is to turn Marathon County — land of paper mills, dairy farms and the Sunday polka jamboree — into a mecca of urban cool, a magnet for lifestyle-oriented, upwardly mobile, laptop-carrying Generation XYZers with college degrees by the dozen.
Once the county creates a critical mass of these latte sippers, major employers will swoop in and employ them in some next wave technology. The county will prosper.
Should the plan succeed, we will all be cool and rich, which, last time we checked, was very cool.
It’s about time Marathon County invested in cool. Look at other counties. What do they spend their tax money on? Well, all the normal dumb stuff. Road salt. Squad cars. Bed pans. Army surplus jackets and Led Zeppelin t-shirts for the undercover drug agent. In other words, boring.
Instead, Marathon County will spend $4,095 to have McDevco, its economic development arm, give away complementary computer flash drives to people chilling out at the Wausau kayak races. That’s not just cool, it is techno. And that in itself is uber-cool.
Also, the county will spend $12,950 for the Health Department to put up bike and pedestrian signs around the county. This is totally magnet. Could there be a sadder picture than a bunch of spandex-wearing bicyclists with master’s degrees and Phd’s utterly lost somewhere on the country trunk highway system? And unable to get Google maps on the iPhones for lack of cellphone reception? Preventing this disaster could be critical to the county’s next economic “big step.”
The county will also spend $19,980 for UW-Marathon County to form something called an Emerging Leaders Coalition. We don’t know what that is, but we support it completely. A coalition is always very cool. We get a very positive vibe from anything that is emerging. We are definitely in favor of emergence.
Our only problem with last week’s county board action is that it didn’t go far enough.
The county budgeted $125,000 in 2012 to fund its young professionals grant program. Last week’s vote left $33,240 unspent. This means the county isn’t doing everything it can to be cool.
There is a cool gap.
Thankfully, we have some great ideas where the remainder of this budget should be spent:
- Dark Sunglasses Day. Send every man, woman and child a pair of dark sunglasses so that on a given day we can all wear them at the same time. On the coolness scale, this is good for at least two Portlands. (Check with county Corporation Counsel Scott Corbett if the county would incur liability for people bumping into one another).
- Encourage new art. One suggestion: A Zombies in Art exhibition.
- Create a Marathon County Cool Department. This department would be so cool it would have no employees, just an empty office with a Bob Marley poster thumb-tacked to the wall.
- Declare all of Marathon County a free-range chick zone.
So, the journey beckons us all. The county will be transformed — from Jerkwater to Bevent, from Rozellville to Nutterville — from a place people say they are from to a place people will want to come to. The universe is a very, very cool place. And we will be at its precise center.
On the personal side …
Betty Garber celebrates 100th birthday
On Aug. 5, Jim and Bill Garber celebrated their mother Betty’s 100th birthday with her and 200 or more of her friends in two separate receptions. Jim and Bill helped found Interlink in 1980 when Betty was 67 years old and about to launch a new career of her own as a travel packager, tour leader and sales person. It was not unusual during her travel career that Betty single-handedly created, sold and lead tours to world-wide destinations that tallied sales worth more than Interlink’s annual revenue for the year.Jim and Bill acknowledge Betty’s inspiration that continues uninterrupted and undiminished after more than 33 years! Pictured from left are: Jim and Carolyn Garber, Betty Garber, and Shirley and Bill Garber. Betty’s celebrations included receptions in Ohio where she now lives near Jim, and in Berrien Springs, MI, where Interlink is headquartered and where Betty lived more than 60 of her 100 years.
Newspapers in her blood
Interlink Associate Sales Manager Jessica Hughey shares this photo from 1951 of her great-grandmother and newspaper owner, Mrs. Hettie Barry Miller (circled in photo above). Mrs. Miller died Dec. 18, 1951, shortly after this photo was taken. Jessica said this may be the last photo ever taken of her. The “Miller” in her name was from her marriage to Jessica’s great-grandfather. Mrs. Miller owned and ran the Decaturville (TN) Herald for more than 50 years after her first husband, Henry M. Barry, who owned the paper, died in 1901 when he was only 40. The photo above marks “Dr. Rogers Day,” a yearly recognition of an outstanding member of the community. The first person so honored was Dr. Rogers, shown second from left, the kindly country doctor who treated the citizens of Decaturville for 60 years. They named the yearly event after him, and he was an honored guest at every such event until he died.