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What's New in Publishing 25 Sep 2020 07:10

Making text message news work, lessons from The Membership Guide, and more

(1) new message

Text-based notifications deservedly have a mixed reputation amongst publishers and audiences. But with the need for information on fast-changing circumstances in the pandemic, more publishers are starting to experiment in the space again.

The Arizona Republic has attracted over 2,500 sign-ups to its free text notification service, sending up to four texts each day on the pandemic. Similarly, BuzzFeed News launched text notifications with one of their journalists updating readers on the latest COVID-19 numbers and news.

An Indiana-based publisher has taken this a step further, and has based its entire business model on text notifications. The New Paper curates and summarises the day’s top stories into a concise daily text message for a $5 monthly subscription fee. The New Paper is already profitable, with over 7,000 paid subscribers bringing in $400,000 in annual revenue. 

It’s a risky move putting all your eggs in one basket this way, but there are lessons we can learn. The New Paper is challenging the preconceived notions of text-based notifications – that the medium works best for narrowly tailored subjects. With WhatsApp restricting its newsletter-like functionality, publishers exploring notifications may want to take a second look at the good, old-fashioned text.

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WNIPThe Arizona RepublicIndianaMarc WalderRingier
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