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When retailers in my community ask me how much to invest in advertising, what considerations should I be taking into account?

Thanks for your question. Most retailers set their investment in advertising dollars based on a percentage of sales. The accepted advertising industry norm is 3 percent to 5 percent of monthly sales as a monthly ad budget. However, the amount of dollars a retailer invests in advertising also can depend on a number of factors:

Do newspapers’ competitors use newspapers to build their own brands and doesn’t that reinforce the value of newspapers?

Absolutely! In this tough economic environment and to coincide with the signing of the federal stimulus package in late February, ValPak, the blue envelope coupon direct mailer, chose newspapers in 30 of their franchise markets to launch a national campaign promoting its ValPak brand and product as “The Original Consumer Stimulus Package.” Last year Valpak

Can my print ads actually get people to go online and check out a product or service?

Print newspaper ads drive online traffic and purchases. How do we know? Google told us! That’s right. In a research study commissioned by Google and conducted by Clark, Martire & Bartolomeo in October 2007 and released in April 2008, among individuals who research products and services after seeing them advertised in newspapers, 67 percent use

A local agency recently held a closed-door meeting with a businessman who is trying to buy a piece of property. Can they do that?

The Texas Attorney General’s office has held that outside members of the public are not allowed to attend executive sessions. The Texas Attorney General’s office, moreover, notes on its Web site in discussing the state open meetings law, specifically, that “a governmental body … should not allow someone to attend an executive session regarding a

Our reporters have difficulty getting public officials to return phone calls about controversial issues. How can we prod those officials into being more responsive?

For starters, make the officials accountable for not talking to the newspaper. If the county commissioner’s role is part of a larger story, report that he or she would not return phone calls or would not discuss the issue, make sure to place that fact where readers would otherwise expect the official’s response to be.

Business in my community is really bad. I know businesses should advertise, but I can’t persuade them and should they agree to continue their advertising, I am not sure what we should advertise.

First and foremost, you should never agree with anyone in your community that business is bad. Likewise, you should never say “business is bad.” Anywhere in Texas, or for that matter in the U.S. “Business is not Bad!” “Business is tough to get!!” Your advertisers, both current, new and old, are asking or going to

My headlines just don’t work. What can I do?

The most frequent problem brought to me by news editors at design workshops is how to manage the headlines on their front page. Editors often comment, “Headlines just don’t work on my 1A.” A few will admit, “I even tried using four different headline fonts on my pages and stories still didn’t pop out.” I

Civic organization meetings are a staple of our newspaper, and they’re obviously interesting to the members of those organizations. But how can we make them more interesting to a wider range of readers?

The first rule of thumb is, don’t fall into the trap of writing the story in the same chronological order as items or issues appear on the agenda. If the organization always meets on the same date, it’s not relevant merely that they met, so the fact they “met” probably ought not to even be

A small retailer, a pizza shop, in my community wants to run a coupon to test if my newspaper works. What should I do?

Coupons should not be used by a retailer or potential advertiser to count response in a particular media vehicle (… direct mail, Internet, magazine, newspaper). If a retailer or potential advertiser wishes to count or track response to a particular advertisement or a series of ads, the retailer should monitor a variable (total number of