FARGO — Forum Communications Company recently unveiled a renewed investment into growing and developing its advertising division as a means of continuing its commitment to local news.
The latest advertising push includes investments into people, tools, technology and resources to modernize the company’s advertising division.
As part of the new initiative, three Forum Communications employees have taken on new roles as it pertains to advertising.
Leading the group is Stephanie Schroeder, moving into the role of chief revenue officer.
Schroeder previously worked to develop the company’s subscription revenue model. Her new role will entail working to ensure both the subscription and advertising sides of the business coexist and develop together.
Amy Fredrickson has taken on the role of vice president of marketing. Previously, Fredrickson worked to market news subscriptions across the company’s four-state coverage area. Now, she will also focus on ensuring businesses throughout that territory are aware of the comprehensive advertising options available with Forum Communications.
Bill Morehouse stepped into the role of director of digital advertising. In that role, Morehouse evaluates the opportunities for continuous improvement in the digital realm.
The company is also hiring for a fourth position, vice president of advertising sales, which will oversee the advertising strategy across local news markets. In Fargo, Forum Communications owns and operates The Forum and WDAY-TV.
These four individuals will work with the current team of more than 80 advertising employees spread across news markets in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
In recent years, Forum Communications devoted a great deal of effort to developing its digital subscriber base by implementing a paywall on its news websites and enhancing benefits for subscribers.
While those efforts were a central focus, the significance of advertising to the business remained. “In general advertising has always been a really important part of Forum Communications’ business model,” Schroeder explained.
The latest realignment puts both subscriptions and advertising under one umbrella and “comprehensive strategy,” Schroeder added. “Ultimately, we need both subscriptions and advertising to fund local journalism. Without both of those elements, our operation can’t be sustained,” she said.
From a marketing perspective, Fredrickson is focused on making sure clients know exactly what Forum Communications can do for them. She said the advertising portion of the business was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company hopes to bring advertising back to its previous heights.
‘Full suite’ of capabilities
One of the key differentiators between Forum Communications and other means of advertising, Schroeder explained, is that the company’s advertising experts are equipped to leverage print, digital and broadcast advertising channels to create custom omni-channel campaigns better able to meet a business’s unique objectives. This combination creates a “full suite” of advertising choices, she said.
The landscape of digital advertising constantly evolves, but print advertising remains a steady and reliable place for advertising. The Globe, for example, prints a newspaper once a week and produces a Saturday e-edition, which is an exact replica of a printed paper.
“Digital advertising is becoming more and more important for any business that’s trying to reach its audience,” Schroeder said. “I would say that even as we see more and more advertisers shift to digital, there’s still a strong need for a print audience as well.”
Advertising specialists with The Globe are available to help advertisers place their ads either in a digital or print format in the company’s news markets or anywhere on the internet. Podcasts are also a rising avenue for advertising, with Forum Communications producing 29 podcasts.
Also at advertisers’ disposal are the services of Click Content Studios and Modulist. Click Content is Forum Communications’ video production team, while Modulist allows consumers to place classified ads or personal announcements in FCC news publications. Forum Communications Printing can also be tapped for any commercial printing needs.
“Right now our biggest opportunity is just telling our story and making sure business owners are aware that we’re here and all of our capabilities that we have and the things we can help with,” Fredrickson said. “I really feel like there’s an opportunity to connect more businesses to the services we have to offer.”
When advertising with The Globe, advertisers have unmatched access to a local audience.
To begin, five million users visit Forum Communications Company’s network of news websites each month. Those users have already demonstrated an interest in local information, giving advertisers precise access to interested customers. Those targeted campaigns can also take place on any website across the internet.
Morehouse views those five million monthly visitors as a “super valuable” offering for advertisers. Leveraging that audience, Forum Communications can then use the wealth of digital tools at its disposal. Targeting can take place across the company’s network of news websites or anywhere else online.
Data from digital advertising can be used to put campaigns in front of the right target audience. “It’s really all customized with digital, which is really nice,” Morehouse said.
Morehouse and Schroeder noted that coupling precise digital advertising with a broad-focused print advertisement enables advertisers to tap into an extremely engaged local audience. The print audience is “really engaged in local content already,” she said.
Critically, The Globe offers unique advantages over other digital competitors such as Google and Facebook.
For example, Schroeder said advertisements on Facebook find their way into a user’s feed and compete with thousands of other things for that user’s attention. Not only that, but those same advertisements can receive negative comments which could place the brand in a negative light.
Advertisements placed with Forum Communications publications are surrounded by trustworthy information, which in turn boosts the image of the advertising brand. That can’t always be guaranteed on a Google or Facebook ad.
“Advertisers want their ad in a place where the content that surrounds it is credible and vetted,” Schroeder said. “When you place your ad in a newspaper or on one of our digital websites or a broadcast commercial, you can ensure your ad is only being seen among other credible and local content.”
For both Schroeder and Fredrickson, another distinguishing factor is that advertising clients can actually reach a real person when advertising with Forum Communications.
“There’s something to be said just about the personal service and the fact that our ad teams, they’re local experts. They know the market, the communities that they work in,” Fredrickson said. “We can really bring that service component.”
With the help of an expert staff, advertisers can be as engaged or hands-off with their promotions as they desire. Forum Communications will create a 24/7 dashboard that clients can view to learn how their campaigns are progressing. Trained advertising professionals can also make adjustments to optimize those campaigns based on the data.
“We’re working hard to be able to offer first-party data so that they can more effectively target their audiences and their customers,” Fredrickson said. “We want to make it easy for them to be able to advertise and get results and let us do the heavy lifting.”
In Worthington, Anna Rogers spearheads sales efforts as the advertising director, leading a team of three. The Globe can assist with any type of advertising and fulfill any requests, from direct mail to newspaper ads, to full digital campaigns and full digital capabilities.
Rogers’ team can scale campaigns to any size business.
‘Growing our local news presence’
Ultimately, Schroeder hopes the renewal of Forum Communications’ advertising business will help connect advertisers with their local community.
In turn, the company is growth-minded, with a stated aim of expanding its local news reporting. Those efforts can be seen most recently in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and St. Cloud, Minnesota, where the company started new newsrooms.
“We want to make investments in growing our local news presence in other communities as well,” Schroeder said. “We want to keep local news in our communities, but in order to do that, we have to be able to fund it.”
Schroeder and Fredrickson both aim to continue educating advertisers in their communities on the potential that Forum Communications offers to grow their businesses.
“I would love to just have more advertisers in the community understand that we are more than just a newspaper,” Schroeder said. “While the newspaper is still an incredibly important part of what we do and the channel in which we do it, it’s just one platform that we use to reach a huge audience in our communities.”
To learn more about advertising with Forum Communications, browse the media kit available at advertising.forumcomm.com. Advertisers in the Worthington area can also visit dglobe.com and select the “Advertise With Us” link in the navigation menu.