Rick Wamre: What would you do? Tell us, and reap rewards

I spend a fair amount of time interviewing potential employees. Luckily, it’s not because we have lots of employee turnover; rather, it’s that we have lots of ideas and opportunities.

Recently, I was interviewing an applicant, this one a writer/editor interested in replacing someone moving back to California. So, out of curiosity, I asked the applicant about a couple of ideas we’ve been kicking around.

I mentioned to her we have a robust and active readership online (about 800,000 monthly), a fact that seems to elude a high percentage of our print-only magazine readers (about 180,000 monthly). I also asked her what she thought about potentially charging our online readers $1 per week to help support the multiple daily stories we write about neighborhood events, crime, development, news and restaurant/retail openings and closings, most of which never appear in our print magazine. What we produce online is like receiving a neighborhood newspaper for free daily; we even send the information outekly via e-newsletter to more than 34,000 of you (check it out and sign up at advocatemag.com/social).

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So, I asked, do you think readers would help us if we asked?

She thought about it for a bit, which I’ve found to be a good sign when considering applicants; people who have an instant answer for every question tend not to be all that interested in teamwork, given that they already seem to know everything.

“Since you have that incredible engagement with your readers,” she asked, “why don’t you ask them what they think?”

I liked the way this woman was thinking.

So I threw out another idea: The cost of producing and delivering each individual monthly magazine is now about $2 apiece, and our advertisers support 100 percent of this cost. If readers don’t pick up a magazine, thumb through it and buy products from our advertisers, we’re “dead meat” in a business sense.

So I tried again: What about potentially selling a small advertisement on the cover of our magazines, one that advertisers may be excited to purchase but shouldn’t interfere with the stories we’re telling? Would an ad like this, which would help generate additional income to pay our expenses, be OK with our readers?

As a journalistic purist, this idea seemed to be a bridge too far for her: “I don’t like that one,” she said, “but again, why don’t you ask your readers?”

So that’s exactly what I’m doing this month: Would you please take a couple of minutes to give me your thoughts about these ideas, as well as any others you have to help us improve?

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If you will send me an email at rwamre@advocatemag.com with your suggestions, I promise I’ll read and respond to every one of them. Or better yet, visit oakcliff.advocatemag.com/survey and complete a 10-minute readership study that is part of our regular circulation audit, enter your ideas in the space provided, and you’ll have a chance to win $500 or one of three sets of $100 restaurant coupons.

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As for the applicant? She decided this isn’t the kind of place she wants to work at this point.

That’s OK, though: She has already contributed to our company, even if she never comes to work here.

Rick Wamre is president of Advocate Media. Let him know how we are doing by emailing rwamre@advocatemag.com.

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