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Events & sponsorships: A revenue game-changer for 2022

Events & sponsorships: A revenue game-changer for 2022
Written by publishing team

Bob Selleck | For editor and publisher

It’s not that newspapers’ traditional revenue streams – subscriptions and advertising – are disrupted. It is simply not enough to maintain and enhance the bottom line as newspapers transition from print to a digital business model.

Newspapers of various sizes across the country have explored a proactive program of organizing and hosting events and sponsorships. As a result, they have increased revenue, created opportunities for local businesses to treat organizations and the public differently, and reinforced the perception of newspapers as the primary supporter and voice for their communities.

The types of events and sponsorships that newspapers use to increase revenue reveal an impressive level of creativity and vision to appeal to a wide variety of audiences:

  • An ongoing event to support a local newspaper and literacy and education project.
  • Geocaching event to attract visitors and their travel money.
  • Online Vacation Danger® Program to support a community-based program for the homeless and those with mental health and addiction problems.
  • The best event for local food and beverage vendors to increase their exposure.

Texas-sized success

Leonard Woolsey is president of Southern Newspapers, a Houston-based family-owned publishing company that has several local newspapers in Texas, including The Galveston County Daily News, Texas’ oldest newspaper. Woolsey is also the publisher of the Daily News.

Leonard Woolsey, President of Southern Newspapers and publisher of The Galveston County Daily News

He was one of many newspaper publishers looking for new sources of income. From his perspective on society, he noted, more companies were recognizing the value of sponsoring events.

“When contacting Galveston-area businesses about sponsoring a Daily News event, we discovered that it was easier to get sponsorship than advertising money,” Woolsey said. “Often, sponsorship money comes from PR or a community support budget, and more companies want to be recognized as actively participating in their community.”

According to Woolsey, many newspapers that have large and loyal audiences do not mobilize this power to advertisers as new exposure opportunities. He said corporate sponsorship is not necessarily looking for a return on their investment but for establishing a different emotional relationship with the community and potential clients. In addition, most sponsors are not able to organize or organize an event.

Entertainment at the 2021 Parade of Homes, hosted by The Galveston County Daily News, brought in nearly $80,000 in revenue.

However, Woolsey and his team at the Daily News have generated some notable investment returns for the newspaper through a variety of events. For example, although the first home parade organized and promoted by the newspaper was at the height of the pandemic, it was successful enough to plan a second home parade during 2021. Woolsey estimates that the hard costs of the parade were $10,000, and resulted in what Nearly $80,000 in revenue.

The newspaper set up a website for the event, printed signs for all the homes in the show, and hired a videographer and other vendors.

“Some might think that communities are getting too saturated with running/running events, but we organized a Press Run to support news in the Education Journal and the Literacy and Education Project. Our proceeds generated $50,000,” Woolsey said.

He stated that the Daily News generated nearly $150,000 in new revenue from events and sponsorships during 2021. It was so successful that the newspaper decided to organize and host one every three months.

“Events and sponsorships have become our fastest growing revenue streams,” Woolsey added. “I encourage any newspaper to learn from our examples and those of others, but I also recommend starting slowly, testing the waters and planning a small first event.”

Big results from small town events

Creating successful events with passionate sponsorship is not limited to the largest markets. For example, Bend, Oregon, is a small city on the Deschutes River with a population of just over 100,000.

Given the area’s natural beauty and appeal to tourists, it was a good fit for the local newspaper, The Bulletin, to organize and host the Bend Arts, Culture & Adventure (BACA) GeoTour during the fall of 2021. Geocaching is a popular outdoor activity with people around the world. Enthusiasts place small containers known as geocaches in urban, rural, and wild locations and mark them with their GPS coordinates, which others can search using a GPS device.

Heidi Wright, publisher of The Bulletin and COO of EO Media Group, the newspaper’s parent media company, said the newspaper received a $19,000 grant to fund BACA GeoTour.

“The aim of the event was to attract tourists from outside the region to attend the event and to increase local accommodations, dining and other related expenses,” Wright said. “The geocaches were intentionally placed close to the local arts and cultural sites to encourage participants to tour those sites.”

Everyone received an event package that included a BACA GeoTour Passport. It was used to record a secret password in each of the geocaches they found, which earned participants points. They also earned points for staying in hotel sponsorships and sponsoring other supporting businesses in the Old Mill area of ​​Bend. The newsletter plans to host a second BACA GeoTour during the spring of 2022.

Bulletin’s annual pet calendar event has proven successful in supporting the Humane Society of Central Oregon. Readers and pet owners voted in Bend on 256 images through four rounds. Each vote costs a fee, resulting in a total of $15,000, with only $9,500 from the last round of voting.

“As more families welcome pets during the pandemic, those in the Bend area and pet lovers in general have shown their generosity by participating in our annual pet calendar,” Wright said.

Henry M. Lopez, Director of Digital Projects and Marketing at Santa Fe New Mexican

Meet Henry Lopez, “El Rey of Events”

Self-proclaimed or not, Henry Lopez, director of digital enterprise and marketing for Santa Fe New Mexican, announced the title. From April through early December 2021, he and his team produced, hosted and promoted 21 online events and a total of over 50 events for the year.

One of the secrets to the newspaper’s success, Lopez says, is creating most events in partnership with nonprofit organizations, many of which rely on events to generate donations and grants. Therefore, most of them budget for events, but as Lopez discovered, they do not have the personnel and promotional experience to organize them and increase interest.

Nonprofit events need publicity, and that’s what a local media company does best. “My team has the experience, and we have the production capabilities, like shooting videos, to provide nonprofits with tools that they don’t have and can’t afford,” Lopez said.

“Due to the many events that New Mexico has produced, promoted, and succeeded in, each subsequent event attracts more readers, residents, and sponsors to participate and provide the financial support many local nonprofits need.”

Lopez added that some non-profit organizations, having seen the positive results of the partnership with the New Mexican, come to the newspaper with an idea for an event and ask Lopez and his team to implement it.

When the “king of juveniles” calls, even the mayor of Santa Fe and other local government and social services officials respond. Many of them were contestants of The Life Link’s Online Jeopardy, a live online event on December 2, 2021. All event participants can play the game just as they do on the nationally syndicated TV show and donate while they participate and have fun.

This was the second Jeopardy event for The Life Link. She focuses on helping the homeless, those with mental health and substance abuse challenges and survivors of human trafficking to improve their health and living conditions.

“We have found a company that can provide the rights to use the Jeopardy name, logo, and music,” Lopez said. The second online game The Life Link has raised more than $10,000. “As we’ve hosted more successful events and become more visible in the community, more companies and advertisers want to be a part of it, even though we had very few initially. We are now closing 80% of that sponsorship.”

Lopez said the newspaper’s many events for nonprofits have created opportunities to host and promote job fairs and even local political forums and town halls. He and his team are now offering to help other media companies add events to their calendars through training programs.

Chris Stegman, Chief Revenue Officer, The Salt Lake Tribune

glorious food food

It may not have been how Chris Stegman, chief revenue officer of The Salt Lake Tribune, wanted to measure the success of the first annual Salt City Best Fest with more than 30 food and beverage vendors, but all the food had been sold out by 7 p.m.

Another fortunately unexpected measure of event success was the attendance of over 3,000 people, which undoubtedly led to the rapid disappearance of invited restaurant fare.

“Because this was the first such event in Salt Lake City, the paper’s primary goal was not to generate income,” Stegman said. “We wanted to promote and present local restaurants. The value of the newspaper was the many new relationships we had established with restaurants, vendors and other businesses. It was also a training ground for future events for our custom event team. It will definitely be a model for the future.”

Guests at 2021 Best Fest in Salt City can enjoy drink samples. The opening ceremony was so successful that they sold out all the food by 7 pm

The Best Fest was an event accompanying the newspaper’s best annual issue. Most of the restaurants and vendors there were highlighted, but others were invited to offer a wider range of food.

Not only did guests have several options of beer, wine, and spirits to sample, the event included six different liquor seminars and a sports bar where guests could watch the college football conference championship games. In addition, guests enjoyed live music performances and can opt for a VIP-level experience. The ticket also included a free ride to and from the event on a UTA (Utah Transit Authority).

Stegman focused just as much on careful financial planning for the event as it was a Tribune’s first. This effort allowed participating food and beverage vendors to pay at the end of the night.

Vendors were also pleased with the guest responses, with many commenting that the city needed events like Best Fest. Several vendors said that guests enjoyed discovering restaurants they had never been to before, but are now planning to do so.

With this experience, we are adding two similar events for 2022 with the same mix of food, alcoholic beverages, fun activities and fun activities. One might be more exclusive while the other would be accessible to a wider audience,” Stegmann said.

Bob Selleck has held many senior positions and served countless clients during his 47 years in marketing and advertising. He has been a freelance/contract content researcher, writer, editor and director since 2010. He can be reached at

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