While Saving the Star

Dateline: Tue 06 Sep 2011

let's please include classifieds.

A friend attempted to place $200 worth of advertising starting this past Saturday in the Indianapolis Star. This guy is selling a home, and the last time he went through the process, (10 years or so ago), the Star ads brought him a lot of traffic.

He was expecting good results again. He's not a subscriber, incidentally, so he's not especially aware of all the changes going on at the paper. He's a young guy who gets his news online,.

On Thursday, he contacted the classified department and placed his ad, intending that it would run over the weekend (Saturday and Sunday) both in home delivery, street sales and online, and in three subsequent weekends.

The timing was critical, since this past Sunday was the first open house.

The ad never appeared.

Today, in a bit of a mood, he called the classified department to find out what went wrong. He describes his experience in an email with the header, "People at the Star are morons!"

"Just got off the phone to complain about my ad not being run on Saturday.  Conversation when something like this, after I explained how I placed the ad online and didn't get any print coverage over the weekend.

'Well, you missed the deadline.'
'No, I submitted the ad online shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday. The rep I spoke to at the Star last week said the deadline for weekend real estate classifieds when submitted online is 3 pm Thursdays.'

'Well, even if it is a few minutes before, we can't guarantee the ad will run.'
'Well, then what's the point of having a deadline... aren't you guys in the newspaper business?'
'Hold on let me transfer you to my manager...'
"Voicemail greeting... 'Hi, you've reached the desk of bla bla blah..."

Says my friend: "I'm really not sure if I'll ever see my ad run... much less my $199.  

"They didn't have a problem processing my payment. Apparently I made that deadline."

This should not be hard; here's a paying customer, a businessman, who simply wants results. Gannett is so short-sighted and so short-staffed in classifieds that it could not deliver.

I honestly think stories like this hurt the paper's credibility more than or at least as much as a shortage of reporters and editors. This is where the rubber meets the road: paying for an ad is a business deal, and when the newspaper drops the ball, trust is lost, perhaps forever, at least with one customer.

But then he tells his friends, and the word spreads.

In fairness, the circulation manager did call him back and promised next weekend would be better.

Time will tell.

Incidentally, the real estate section -- a must-read for me in the Sunday paper -- is awfully thin these days. I'm sure I'm not the only one who noticed that Tucker pulled its page some months ago.

Tucker has an amazing online presence, so they must have decided the money being spent with print wasn't worth it....


hendy [Member] said:

There's an answer: http://indianapolis.craigslist.org. Then take that $199 and buy some flowers to decorate with. People love flowers.

2011-09-06 21:36:54

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

The Real Estate Section is thin. The Biz Section is a laughing stock. The Sports Section is fair to middlin', at best.

The obits are expensive. And if you're prominent and die, they may run a story a week later.

There is one solid improvement: the editorial page runs a range of opinions.

And so it goes.

2011-09-06 23:36:33

hendy [Member] said:

Imagine: the biggest idiot has the most real estate in terms of column inches. Co-incidence? I think not! We must bluster the fear-based propaganda! Onward Christian Soldiers against the Muslim Menace! Take arms, lads, we shall overcome! The Round-Earthers Shall Not Win! The Sodomists Shall Perish, Too!

*Disclaimer: the above was my weak attempt at sarcasm.

2011-09-07 07:00:10

CrossedWires [unverified] said:

I have also noticed they are never running the Hoosier Lottey and Powerball numbers the next day. Claiming they went to print before the numbers were drawn. Never seemed to be a problem previously.

2011-09-07 08:25:41

ruthholl [Member] said:

As long as the prayer is still intact....losing it seems to rile the remaining blue-hair lady readers.

2011-09-07 12:03:15

ruthholl [Member] said:

To Hendy, from my friend:
"Even though my 200 bucks is likely gone forever, I am going to buy some flowers this weekend. Tell your respondent 'thanks for the idea.'"

Also, his house is now listed on craigslist. Free. Beautiful photos, too.

Great tip.

2011-09-07 13:09:53

cranky [unverified] said:

Awful! And they (the Star) did it to themselves!
I used an open house ad in spring of '08 when I sold my house in Indy. I was really pleased with the traffic, but do not recall the price of the ad being that expensive.
I moved out of state briefly, but have since returned to sell real estate in Putnam Co. One of my sellers asked me about running an ad in the Star and I could not recommend it. There is no real estate section! A half a page of open house ads doesn't cut it.
It's a shame, but I guess times have changed.
And, while Tucker has an excellent on-line presence, they also publish their own glossy magazine of listings each month. What does that tell you?

2011-09-08 12:01:17

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