I have devoted most of my adult life to understanding newspapers and why they make or lose money. In that time I have launched no less than seven newspapers either for myself or others. They say the best captain to sail with is the one who has been shipwrecked because he knows where all the rocks are. I am that captain but I have also been involved in the sensational turnaround of a monthly business magazine that was losing a lot of money.
Little wonder that I was able to easily transfer my talents online to run successful moneymaking blogs, such as this one you are reading.
Here's what I would do if I were given a chance to turn around the Nairobi Star. My hope is that those involved with the newspaper will pick up an idea or two that they can use.
I would neatly divide all the content into 2. Firstly long detailed articles, either exclusive features or thoughtful political and news analysis as well as human-interest tales. The second group would consist of numerous very brief stories. I would never attempt to carry a current news story that goes beyond two short paragraphs. This blog can offer numerous ideas for exclusives that would help them sell at least 50,000 copies daily.
I would then change the advertising strategy and target the hundreds of thousands of smaller advertisers whom the bigger newspapers are currently ignoring. Interestingly every publication in Kenya is targeting the same up-market advertisers. As a huge market of untargeted advertisers is completely ignored. There are many ways to do this but one of the easiest is to make it easy to book advertisements in The Nairobi Star. For isntance making it possible to book a classified ad worth Kshs 200 where cash can be sent in either using Safaricom's M-Pesa or airtime (this is easy to cash). I would also run competitions to encourage people to get into the habit of advertising, as well as start a lonely hearts column where people pay for the ads.
In brief I would seek to recover the soul of the Nairobi Star while exploring new revenue generating profit centres while at the same time making it a fun newspaper for the target market. I would endeavor to create a newspaper that looks as different as possible from the other mainstream dailies. I would also run competitions that cross promote KissFM and Nairobi Star in both media outlets.
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