Air Date: Saturday 09 April 2016
Guest: Lisa DeSisto
Host: Steve Woods (Stevoe)
Studio Contributor: Debi Davis
Executive Producer: Emily Sullivan (Sully)
Lisa DeSisto was last on our show in 2014, so she joined us recently to update us on the goings-on at MaineToday Media and the Portland Press Herald. She had been in Boston before moving to Maine, but found that lifestyle to be “soul crushing” and it was sucking the joy out of her life with her husband. When the opportunity presented itself to move to Maine and help run the Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, she jumped on it and hasn’t looked back since. She’s helped build the brand to be better focused on communications with subscribers and to create an online presence that has helped to keep the paper current.
In this interview, DeSisto and Stevoe talked about getting the news online and how important it was to reaching a broader audience. The Maine Sunday Telegram reaches ~350,000 monthly (on Sundays only), but the monthly online viewership of the Press Herald and MaineToday’s other papers is over 1.1 million. Unfortunately, that’s not where the profit is, but that’s where the people are. DeSisto says that most of their revenue comes from subscribers (myself included – support local business!) and advertising. When they first started publishing articles online the daily content was free, but since they created a paywall, there has actually been better reader/subscriber retention. The paywall allows readers of online content to view 10 articles per month before a subscription and/or log-in is required to keep reading.
MaineToday has been pushing their content on to as many social media and online channels as they can. DeSisto says that Facebook is very important to them, but Facebook is another channel where they are allowing access to their product for free. The company is expanding their business model and focusing on moving into live events like their Source Sustainability Awards which were held recently.
DeSisto and Stevoe also spoke about the importance of having a trusted brand, especially online. It’s hard (for me) to understand, but some people still believe everything they read online. It’s critical to MaineToday that their readers are able to distinguish between sponsored content or advertising and editorial or informational pieces printed by journalists. DeSisto says they do this online and in print by visually separating commerce from content with a box or banner around the article.
To learn more about MaineToday Media’s business model and the papers it publishes, visit pressherald.com. You can also visit the website to subscribe to online content, paper delivery, or a combination of both.