GWADS Best of Best

2021 Award Submissions
Print Subscriber Retention

Merced Sun-Star

City: Merced, CA

Daily audited circulation size: 9,330

Sunday audited circulation size: 9,891


  • To engage and retain existing subscribers with a user-generated content contest.
  • To effectively promote a pre-Thanksgiving special section to subscribers and single copy users.
  • To generate incremental revenue through the sale of a TASTE ACROSS THE STATES cookbook.


This was a two-part effort:

We used email, social, rack cards, bundle hangers and in-paper print across all 28 McClatchy markets, including the Merced Sun-Star to promote the contest, solicit recipes and highlight an upcoming special Holiday Food issue on Nov. 18, 2020. We collected over 350 recipes, with a team of judges awarding one winner from each market a $100 gift card, as well as three national winners (main dish, side dish, dessert), who each won $500 gift cards.


  • We received 364 recipes from subscribers, many including photos that were included in the cookbook.
  • Single-copy sales of the 11/18 edition of the Merced Sun-Star were up 112.80% Y-2-Y.
  • The TASTES ACROSS THE STATES cookbook was distributed to rave reader reviews, selling out our entire initial printing of over 6,000 copies and achieving over $87,000 in gross revenue.
  • Plans call for bundling a reprint of TASTES ACROSS THE STATES with a TASTE ACROSS THE STATES-HOLIDAY EDITION, due for publication in Q4, 2021.

The Spokesman-Review

City: Spokane, WA
Daily audited circulation size: 42,833
Sunday audited circulation size: 61,750


The goal of this initiative was to increase subscriber lifetime value by saving potential stops at a higher rate.


Utilizing our in-house Customer Care team, we doubled the potential commission from $5.00 to $10.00 per save. We made the payout contingent on the percent of weekly rate saved. For example, if the Customer Care representative saved a subscriber at $7.00 down from $10.00, they retained 70% of the weekly rate and are paid $7.00.


After 13 months of this program (March 2020-April 2021) we’ve maintained a 26-week ROI of $16.51 for every $1 spent on commissions without any loss of stop save performance . Our Customer Care representatives on average save subscribers at 66% of their original rate resulting in more than $350,000 in saved revenue.

The Sacramento Bee

City: Sacramento, CA
Daily audited circulation size: 89,495
Sunday audited circulation size: 110,215


Create a compelling and comprehensive marketing campaign that included strong messaging with a sense of urgency to persuade Sacbee print subscribers to activate their digital access during the COVID-19 pandemic


The Covid digital activation campaign ran from March through June 2020. The campaign was executed through multiple marketing channels and included a series of print ads, spadeas, toppers, web ads, and emails and paper billing ads targeting Sacbee’s print subscribers.


We saw an immediate growth in activations with this strong effort. We started at 51.2% activations in March and grew to over 63.20%+ by the end of May.

The Olympian

City: Olympia, WA
Daily audited circulation size: 14,786
Sunday audited circulation size: 17,209


We had a number of email stops that were not getting the same opportunity to stop save as if we were talking to the customer. To combat this, we partnered with NSS to develop a stop save module that we would send customers to in order to stop the account on their own.


Our goal was to save a portion of these customers that were stopping by email. The portal we used would drive the customer to choose a reason for stopping such as content, moving, price, etc. When the subscriber would choose the reason that was applicable for them, we would have a specific logic that applied to each subscriber. For instance, if a subscriber has a price issue, we immediately offer a reduction in rate of 25%. If the subscriber says they don't have time, we offer a downgrade. All of these transactions, including the stops of a customer ending up choosing to cancel, are then automatically entered in our Naviga system.


The initial results were compelling and we ended up saving 11% of subscribers that went through this flow. That was an increase from the 0% that we were saving before. This was all as of December 31, 2020. As a forward look, in 2021 we have saved 20% of all subscribers that have gone through the flow.


Your membership goes to support this nonprofit organization committed to continuing education and sharing of ideas. Members get preferred rates at events, the opportunity to network, learn revenue-generating strategies, and stay in the forefront of ongoing digital engagement. The Board of Directors look forward to your participation and support in advancing our audience development program.

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