Email onslaught is no match for your driveway

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Don Kirkland, Wrangler News Publisher

By Don Kirkland | Commentary

Without knowing whether you’re as bombarded with email as we are, it seems that practically everyone I know is somewhere on the countdown to overload.

We at Wrangler News, of course, also are guilty of contributing to that seemingly inevitable breaking point, what with the growing demand for digital delivery of our newspaper and the encouraging reports we get back about our consistently increasing online viewership. But email alone does not a newspaper make.

Evidence the number of people we hear from almost daily who want to pick up extra copies because their son/granddaughter/ friend/neighbor was featured in a recent issue.

Thus, despite the era of faceless communication we’re now ensnared in, there are still those who look forward to the feeling they get when they see the latest copy of Wrangler News in their driveway. In its own simplistic way, it’s a real, palpable thing, something like what most people feel when human touch is part of the relationship dynamic.

So yes, as a newspaper rooted in three decades of Tempe and West Chandler experience, we’re trying to achieve a journalistic balancing act that fills the interests of vastly different audiences: the driveway denizens who still enjoy picking up a home-delivered newspaper versus those to whom a laptop, cellphone or tablet is their preferred—and in some cases only—way of keeping current with local happenings.

This is where our digital prodigy Noah Kutz comes in. Not only does Noah have to decide after every print edition what stories and photos will appeal to our various online constituencies, but how to use the most attention-getting subject line possible to attract each recipient’s attention. No easy challenge, it turns out.

In the days following my own initial jump onto the digitized communications bandwagon, it seemed like every subject line was compelling, if for no reason other than the implied urgency of an email. After all, who would be sending it if it weren’t important.

So much has happened with email since those days, however, that the historical underpinnings seem almost irrelevant. Whether we think about it or not, it seems that our inboxes runneth over with stuff we don’t want, need or open.

Thus, once again, this is the challenge Noah faces every time he prepares one of our editions for distribution to the growing list of online subscribers mentioned earlier.

To Noah, and to others responsible for ensuring that emails are actually read, the premise is that an email will be deleted before it’s ever opened.

Which translates to this: Those who have converted their print communications media entirely to email versions now must confront the additional challenge of getting the recipient’s attention via just a few persuasive words that catch the reader’s notice in no more than a blink of the eye.

Again, here is where Noah shines.

The end result of his subject-line creativity, I should mention, is not a talent that comes from birthright. It’s a process that he has pondered, studied and ultimately fine-tuned
so that every one of our online subscribers can be confident that what’s attached is worth opening, exploring and reading.

Just like we try to make every one of our editions that arrives in your driveway.

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