Publisher Interview with Charles O’Neill of the Harbor Light News

Publisher Interview with Charles O’Neill of the Harbor Light News
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This week, Our-Hometown CEO Matt Larson had the opportunity to chat with Harbor Light News Publisher Charles O’Neill about the publication’s digital product, how they’ve had to adapt in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and their overall experience with Our-Hometown.

We’re happy to be able to share what he had to say with the rest of our publishers and readers in the clips below!

1. Adapting to COVID-19

At this point, any conversation about a newspaper or publication is sure to involve the COVID-19 pandemic, given the drastic changes it has forced upon our society and the trickle-down effect those changes have had on the industry as a whole. No paper is immune to the challenges that COVID introduced — primarily, the immediate loss of advertising revenue suffered as local businesses were forced to close their doors to the public.

Like everyone else, Charles had to get creative to try to recoup some of this lost revenue. His idea was to launch a special renewal offer where readers who renewed their subscription in the month of April — even if their subscription was not yet set to expire — would have a few extra months added to their subscription free of charge. For example, a one-year renewal payment would actually extend their subscription for fourteen months instead of just twelve. A two-year renewal would extend the subscription by twenty-eight months, and a six-month renewal would extend the subscription by seven months.

The offer enticed readers to renew now (at a time when revenue is needed most) rather than waiting until their actual renewal date, which could be several months away.

Of course, Charles also accepted traditional donations from readers who just wanted to help.

2. The Interactive E-Edition

Charles mentioned that one feature his readers really enjoy is the Interactive E-Edition provided on the website. The E-Edition is a PDF version of the printed newspaper that is identical to what they would receive in the mail, and allows readers to easily browse the entire edition page by page at their own pace.

However, because Harbor Light News utilizes our extraction service, the PDF E-Edition becomes an Interactive E-Edition — meaning all stories are clickable so that you can read a full text version of the article alongside the PDF edition without having the flip through the PDF to find the continuation of a multi-page story.

Advertisements are also clickable directly to the advertiser’s website.

3. Our-Hometown’s Customer Support

Charles had high praise for our service in general and specifically for our customer support team. Whether it is an issue a reader is having with their account or a more technical request that needs to be addressed, our team is always quick to respond and jump into action when necessary. Meanwhile, our extraction service saves Charles the time and effort of doing it himself. He just sends the PDFs to the printer, and then to Our-Hometown, and we handle the rest!

Special thanks to Charles for taking the time out of his busy schedule to chat with us. Be sure to checkout the Harbor Light News website to see some of what was discussed in action. You can also watch the entire interview on our YouTube channel, here.

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