Register Marketing Ploy: Insert Head in Sand

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Michael Volpe's Media & Marketing column in the current Orange County Business Journal--which I'd link you to but it's a pay site and I'm not that kind of girl--reports that the Orange County Register is launching promotions aimed at countering all the bad news about newspapers, which includes Warren Buffet writing off the entire industry, the Boston Globe's potential demise, predictions of more defaults among dailies, the White House rejection of an industry bailout and, of course, the Reggie's own forced furloughs, confusing buy-outs, heart-breaking layoffs, free-falling circulation, in-house sniping between peons and the suits and so on. 

GODDAMN, that's a lot of bad news to counter! But the Reg and its Irvine-based Freedom Communications' overlords believe their savior is the "Delivering More Than Newspapers" campaign. And, no, that is not a reference to the Register's former newspaper carrier Thi Dinh Bui, who authorities caught up with in Garden Grove in 2004 after witnesses claimed he beat, tortured and starved prisoners at a re-education camp near Hanoi from 1978 to 1981. It's a wonder he hadn't yet risen to publisher.
I'm not sure what's in Lelani Bluner's past, but she has risen to vice president of marketing at the Register, and she tells Volpe, "There is a lot of negative chatter about our industry. We felt this is a great time to reach out to our advertisers to remind them what we can offer them."

Dashed dreams? Voodoo readership numbers? The print equivilent of a buggy whip?

Nope.

After subjecting its dwindling workforce to posters, brochures and intranet messages reminding them of what a great business they are in--so put that smile back on your face, associate!--the Register is foisting its propaganda first on readers through house ads in the paper, on ocregister.com and even in outside publications. Hey, Grand Avenuers, phone (714) 550-5900: one of our friendly ad reps is standing by.

Next come emails and direct-marketing ads to advertisers, as well as seminars that will show space buyers "how to effectively use the Register and its Web site." So it would not be offensive to call them "tools."

Meanwhile, in other Freedom news, Volpe reports that the chain is launching Ink, a shorter version of its Colorado Springs Gazette, which can be read in 10 minutes. That brings to mind the line by the People magazine writer played by Jeff Goldblum in The Big Chill: "You can't write anything longer than it takes to take the average shit." Only in Ink, it'll be more like the average piss. Yellow journalism lives!

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