2017-07-16 / Marketplace


Stay hungry and change will be easy

In our house, you don’t say the word “cheese” unless you mean it. When referring to what we’ll top our burgers with, for example, we spell it out: “c-h-e-e-s-e.” That’s because this summer has been monumental in training our pup Yeti to be off his leash in our yard. For a rather unruly pup, he’s been doing amazingly well. A tiny bit of Swiss has turned him from a huge handful, to a medium-size handful.

Yeti’s willingness to change his behavior for a piece of cheese is almost a direct ripoff of the logic in “Who Moved My Cheese.” I was first introduced to this book by View Newspaper Group publisher (and my dad) Wes Smith. Before I packed my bags and hit the road for Michigan State he gifted me a copy. As any good daughter would do, I read the book. I remember thinking “this doesn’t apply to me, I love change!” While I still love and embrace change, the reality of change as a professional is a bit different than the long-awaited, much anticipated change of moving to college.

Some have said that the daily newspaper industry struggled when digital advertising came onto the scene, because the industry wasn’t willing to change.

As a community newspaper group, View has been fortunate to have our cheese stay in relatively the same place. During a time when daily newspapers saw loss and damaging changes, we saw growth, and change came in the form of positive new ventures.

We are fortunate that change for us continues to come in positive forms, but a re-read of “Who Moved My Cheese” is still on our horizon. Here’s why.

View Newspaper Group is a print first company and will remain that way. While we have worked for years to improve digital offerings both for clients and readers, recently we started taking a closer look at that side of the business. One example is the video on the new Lapeer County Sherriff Department’s K-9 Unit released a week ago. View started producing videos two years ago, and it seems with the recent popularity of the K-9 video we’ll be doing more of it. (As of Friday’s deadline, that video has been viewed about 24,000 times on social media). The response via Sound Off in The County Press and via email has also been very positive too. Clearly, we have tapped into something good. That said, the reality of change is that it takes a lot of work to do it right. It can be overwhelming, it can cause conflict and it can hurt – mentally, physically, financially and so on.

As someone who likes change, it makes sense that I work in branding. At View Newspaper Group change arrived when I did. More events, more team members and more sponsored content, just to name a few. Most of branding is change. A new mission, a new logo and so on. Hosting new events requires changing people’s minds about what to do on a Saturday (This Saturday, head to Lapeer CFI, 170 Millville Road for Robo-Con! It’s a FREE, family friendly festival focused on Robotics and STEM learning).

To keep change manageable, it’s a good idea to focus on something that will never change. For the team at View, that is our customer service. In last week’s sales meeting our team spoke on the topic. Everyone shared stories of what they do to go above and beyond.

Turns out one insides sales team member is so well-known for her customer service, it is now described as “the Sherry experience,” and it sometimes comes with a hug.

We’re not alone in believing that customer service can help an industry through change. A recent poynter.org article by Rick Edmonds on the topic of digital ads said that customer service is how newspapers can beat out their digital competitors. He quotes analyst Gordon Borrell who says when it comes to competition with big names in the digital ad game “Do what the internet pure plays can’t do: Spend time with the customer, listen and serve.” Or in our case, hug.

No matter what industry you work in, change is the one constant. It always has been and it always will be. The trick is to stay hungry so no matter where the cheese moves you’ll go in search of it. You’ll make sacrifices for it (like not attacking the neighbor when she weeds her flower beds), but if Yeti can do it, we all can.

Emily Caswell is the brand manager for the View Group of companies. Email her at ecaswell@ mihomepaper.

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