In many cases when you see a large “for sale” sign on a building, it is a sign that the place is going out of business. That’s why the Daily Times publisher Hope Comer took the time Monday to sit down and explain such a sign that is emblazoned across the side of the Daily Times building, and it turns out the area’s oldest publication is far from going out of business.
“We are not going away,” Comer said. “Recently our building sold. Civitas Media, our parent company, liquidated its real estate over the past two years. The Daily Times building, located at 637 Sixth St., in Portsmouth was officially sold on May 5, 2016. I have been working diligently to find a new location for the Daily Times and the Community Common.”
Comer said the company has narrowed down their list of potential properties for the new location, but is adamant about one thing.
“We are looking within the city limits of Portsmouth,” Comer said. “Although we serve the rural communities as well, including New Boston, Minford, Wheelersburg, West Portsmouth, McDermott, Otway, parts of Pike County and Greenup, Kentucky and other areas in Kentucky, it is important to us to support the downtown area. Once we’ve identified a location and moved all of our staff, we will host an open house to invite the community into our new offices.”
Contrary to the belief of some in the community, the content and readership of the local product has not decreased.
“We have more people reading our products today than I ever have in the past, even 20 years ago,” Comer said. “The Daily Times has a readership of over 13,000. Add in the total market coverage Sunday product, The Community Common, that’s an additional 71,000 readership. We also have our websites, which were implemented in the past decade – the Daily Times site (www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com) has unique visitors of over 130,000 every month. That continues to grow at a steady pace. We have over one million page views every month. That’s our website visitors going to different pages of our sites, reading the content we provide there.”
Comer said that the websites are updated as news happens throughout the day.
“The Community Common carries its own website for content that we strived over the past 6-8 months to individualize in that product,” Comer said. “So readers are not getting re-purposed weekly news from the daily product any longer.”
Why have the products gotten better in their content?
“We opened up several platforms to have our content accessible to people,” Comer said. “Social media is a big one. Everybody has their mobile phone in their hand and therefore access to Facebook and Twitter. Well, they can also access our news on Facebook and Twitter.”
Comer said the local publication expects to hit it’s 13,000th “like” on Facebook in the next 30 days and it has over 1,400 followers on Twitter.
“Our ‘sports’ are heavily involved,” Comer said. “Our sports reporters will update Twitter throughout the evening whenever they are attending games as far as scores and what’s going on there.”
It is in using multiple platforms, Comer says, that gives the community faster access to the Times’ content and breaking news.
In addition, Comer said the company has added several targeted-audience products such as the bi-monthly Salt magazine, the Healthy Living sections and the Medical Guide magazine that publishes every September, plus others that are available to home subscribers of the Daily Times.
Comer said, when she became publisher on April 18, 2015, she was promoted within the company from the position of sales manager, where she had served for the past 18 months. Before that, she was a sales representative.
“Becoming publisher, my first task was to do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis,” Comer said. “Some of the individuals from my company were involved in that. Our department head staff here at the newspapers were also involved. We got together over a two-day session and evaluated different areas of our paper and how we can implement plans to become a community newspaper again. It is my vision, as well as the company’s vision, to provide the content and advertising needs to the community here that we serve.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.