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What does your newspaper's entrance and lobby say about your business?

Monica Nieporte with captionBy Monica Nieporte, Executive Director

Image and perception are important. As many of you get ready to unbox your Halloween, harvest and holiday decorations, take a good look around.

It’s a great time to do a deep cleaning and freshen up the look of your building entrance and lobby. After all, this is the area that makes a first impression upon would-be advertisers, community business leaders and subscribers.

We know it’s been tough out there and this is not a high priority. However, lack of attention to the public areas of your office send a not-so-subtle message that the “good days” are past.  Do you want to project an impression that you’re barely hanging on or that you’re an established, successful business that’s evolving with the times?

The good news is – with places like Home Goods, Marshall’s, Sam’s Club – you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a couple of things that would give an updated, fresh look to your entryway.

We here at ONMA are going to pay attention to that as well.

Anyone who has walked through our hallway immediately senses the dozens of eyes upon them as they walk through a corridor of 11x14s of decades of past presidents. While I personally know and like many of those on the walls, the effect of so many faces in such a small space is, well, a little unnerving. Is this really how we want to represent all of you? That we are just a collection of successful, middle aged white men? Our markets and people have that, yes, but we are all so much more.

Almost every newspaper office is guilty of having a wall like this – past AP and Chamber of Commerce awards that deserved a place of honor at the time but can probably be boxed into storage. If you’re not careful, these dated plaques can unintentionally send a message that the last time the paper had great content was 1995 or did anything the Chamber appreciated was 1982. A recognition plaque from the county fair for buying the grand champion goat is great but if a closer look reveals it is from decades past, it just evokes a sad nostalgia.

Planters and landscaping should look maintained and filled with colorful, healthy-looking plants – not weeds and cigarette butts. If you think this is silly, think about the professional offices you visit as a consumer and then ask yourself whether these things would affect your opinion about customer service, professionalism and value. If I have to step over dust bunnies as big as hamsters to pay my subscription bill (true story), how many more times am I going to be willing to do that? If the lobby and entryway scream ”1978-1986," am I going to trust you with my cutting edge digital advertising budget?

Don’t just haul the tree out this year and hang stockings across the edge of your front counter. Really look around. See your lobby through an advertiser’s eyes and make a few new impressions.

I know we intend to.

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