USA Today is the largest newspaper currently in the U.S. The paper is known for its color and simple layout. The paper’s creator Gannett Co. was looking to reach a new untapped market of readers, the young professionals and travelers. He sent out 3 different versions with surveys asking what readers liked, didn’t like, suggestions, and asked would they buy it. After very positive responses from test subjects, the paper was published. Gannett’s ideas were very controversial among its prestigious peers. Serious journalist said the paper was like the fast food of journalism and the paper was nicknamed the “McPaper.”
USA Today wrote the news in a new style including shorter, simpler articles, with sections in finance, sport, and entertainment. The paper design and layout was also radical compared to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. The paper had lots of color and used descriptive charts and graphs to provide information at-a-glance for the Today’s modern professional who has less attention span due to television.
The paper was very well received by advertisers and readers because it accepted entries much later than others, giving it an edge in the most up-to-date information. Gannett has run into some issues relating to the internet. The company has found it difficult to keep up paper sales as the world turned digital. More and more people look to the internet as their source for information and news. This has been led to lower sales in physical paper sales but led to a significant jump in website advertisement on www.usatoday.com. Today the paper is concerned of how to keep people buying the paper in a physical form and hopes to continue its growth as it has over the past 2 decades.
What opportunities in the marketing environment did Gannett seize in launching USA Today? How did the company learn about and respond to these opportunities? Answer these same questions for USAToday.com
When Gannett wanted to launch USA Today, he wanted to fill in the gap that other national papers were not filling. He wrote up 3 different sample papers and sent them out to 5000 professionals with response cards for reader feedback and suggestions. He wanted to attract a new market found in young professional and travelers. To do this, the paper was written with “shorter pieces than a traditional paper and sprinkled with eye-catching, color photos, graphs and charts.” It was designed for the new generation of people with less attention span who are more accustomed to TVs and computers. The paper also wanted to feed more information in a simpler, shorter manner so readers could see more in less time.
The Paper was “laid out for easy access and quick comprehension by time-pressed readers.” The paper included briefs, columns, secondary headlines, subheads, breakouts, at-a-glance boxes, and informational graphics. Gannett found out through consumer surveys that the readers wanted to read more about sports, entertainment, and financials. With all this additional information the paper used the motto,” An economy of words. A wealth of information.”
In 1986, USA Today began focusing on more “hard news.” Along with more serious journalism, the paper added new features like hotlines for readers to call upon for assistance in financial planning, taxes, etc. Gannett added the “Academic All Star” column and began allowing local advertisements to more localize the paper. USA Today also changed the size from 54” to 50” for easier reading and to be cleaner in design. To get more acknowledgement and awareness of the paper, Neuharth began touring the U.S. and later to thirty countries. He visited soldiers and other business people in hopes of finding the desire for those overseas wanting to read the news back home. To get companies to purchase advertisement on the paper, Gannett came up with a partnership plan in which he gave 6 months free advertisement to those who...