Take the slump out of summer with these four ideas to drive new revenue

With Father’s Day, Fourth of July, and Back-to-School, you can turn the summer months into a big money-maker for your paper


For many newspapers, summer brings nice weather—and a revenue slump. But if you target the right advertisers with the right promotions and engagement campaigns, you can make this one of your most profitable seasons of the year.

Here are four ideas for driving in revenue this summer:

1. Photo Contests

Photo contests are an excellent way to engage your audience and collect valuable consumer profile data for your advertisers. Work with your advertiser to attach a great prize featuring their products or services.

The Forsyth (Ga.) County News worked with their local Ace Hardware store to put together the Fathers’ Day Ugliest Grill contest. Securing $1,500 in revenue for the paper, this contest was a big win for the advertiser with more than 3,800 people voting for the ugliest grill. For hardware stores, summer’s one of their busiest seasons, so this was perfect for getting in front of their target audience at the right time.

In August, nothing beats a back-to-school photo contest. Parents and grandparents already have these pictures on their phones, so this is an ideal choice for any community. The Pocono Record in Stroudsburg, Pa., was able to generate a whopping $25,000 from their Back-to-School photo contest sponsored by a local grocery store and a local family-friendly resort.

2. Sweepstakes

Time and time again, sweepstakes prove to be one of the best ways to drive in tons of entries and grow an email database. Work with your advertiser to pick a great prize that will not only drive in entries, but will bring in qualified leads.

For radio station KCLR-FM, summer was the perfect time to work with a local travel agent on a sponsored sweepstakes. With the prize of a trip to Disney World, the station knew the contest would be a big hit with the community. Not only did the contest drive in over 3,500 entries, but the contest directly led to over $30,000 in sales for the travel agent.

The Canton Repository worked with their local mall to put together the Back-to-School sweepstakes. One winner would receive a $500 shopping spree to the mall to get them all set for the back-to-school season. Not only did the contest drive in over 2,600 entries, but the mall also grew their database with a 67% opt-in rate, and the paper generated $3,000 from the contest sponsorship.

3. Quizzes

Quizzes are one of the best ways to target a wide audience. While they can be run individually, you’ll be able to streamline the sales process and maximize your revenue when you create a quiz bundle.

Perfectly timed around the Fourth of July holiday, Inside Columbia Magazine in Missouri ran the “Red, White, and Moo!” trivia quiz. Sponsored by the local beef council, this creative quiz tested users on their meat cooking knowledge. Not only was this a timely hit with their audience, but the sponsor was able to add over 300 opt-ins to their database.

As back-to-school season rolled around, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution put together a quiz called “Are You Smarter than a Child Genius?” This fun (and tricky!) quiz was sponsored by a local medical center and received over 4,500 entries.

4. Ballots

Ballots can be used for much more than your annual citywide Reader’s Choice. They’re also a great way to engage a huge audience, drive in tons of votes, grow your database, and provide valuable data for you or an advertiser.

If you’ve got a big high school sports fan base in your community, an Athlete of the Week ballot as the school year winds down will be a sure-fire win. The Houma (La.) Courier’s Athletes of the Week ballot had categories for both male and female athletes. Over the course of the campaign, more than 430 high school athletes were nominated and over 19,000 votes were cast! Sponsored by a local car dealership, the paper was able to secure $15,000 in revenue.

Matt Coen is president and co-founder of Second Street, a Saint Louis-based provider of private-label online promotions platforms for media companies