Conventions Will Be Site of Media Extravaganza

Cable, Newspapers, Mags Pull Out All Stops to Target Attendees

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The Democratic and Republican parties may be aiming messages at the American people during their national conventions, but media companies will be fighting to get in front of convention attendees.
The National Journal will publish a 48-page tabloid-sized convention dailies Sunday through Thursday, as it has in past conventions, and then for the first time this year, also a separate afternoon newsletter.
The National Journal will publish a 48-page tabloid-sized convention dailies Sunday through Thursday, as it has in past conventions, and then for the first time this year, also a separate afternoon newsletter.

Not only are newspapers in the convention cities of Denver and Minneapolis and St. Paul pulling out all the stops to aim content, events and advertising at those attendees, so are Washington-based publications, as well as websites and cable channels. Even Vanity Fair is getting in on the action.

For the audience -- 20,000 or more delegates, media and party officials at each convention -- the outpouring is extraordinary. There will be five different morning dailies, not counting the host cities papers, and more dailies in the afternoon.

Washington pubs go daily in Denver, St. Paul
Among the undertakings:

The Washington Post will publish 20-page special editions in Denver for the Democratic National Convention, which runs from Aug. 25-28 and in St. Paul for the Republican National Convention that runs from Sept. 1-4. The editions, with a circulation of 10,000, will be delivered to delegate and press hotels and to the convention halls. While the conventions each run four days, the newspaper's convention editions will be published Monday through Friday each week in the host city. Each day's paper will include stories from the Washington edition of the newspaper plus content from the paper's website and advertising.

Congressional books Congressional Quarterly, The Hill and Roll Call will each also publish dailies. Congressional Quarterly will publish 20,000-circulation convention versions of its CQ Today Monday through Thursday of each convention, in addition to hosting issue brunches for advertisers and attendees. The Hill will publish daily in Denver and in St. Paul, Monday through Thursday. In Denver it will publish a morning edition as well as an updated afternoon edition Tuesday through Thursday. Roll Call will publish Monday through Thursday and is also co-sponsor of a Friends of New Orleans event at both conventions.

A fourth Washington book, Politico, chose to tie with local newspapers rather than do a separate convention publication and it will be part of co-branded special sections in the Denver Post and in the St. Paul Pioneer Press each convention day. Both the newspapers and Politico are selling ads. Politico will also join with the papers and Yahoo in sponsoring forums at the conventions.

In Denver, the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News will do a section of politics that will wrap around the main paper, while in the Pioneer Press will make political news the first section of the paper.

In Minneapolis, the Star-Tribune will have a daily special section packaging convention news and is also doing advance sections as well as special coverage.

The biggest of the efforts from a media company not normally in the two cities is by the National Journal. That publication will bring 120 staffers to each convention city and will publish a 48-page tabloid-sized convention daily, Sunday through Thursday, as it has in past conventions, and for the first time this year also a separate 16-page 8-by-11 afternoon newsletter, Monday through Thursday. National Journal also will hold a variety of policy forums.

Money
Why all the interest?

"We make quite a bit of money," said John Fox Sullivan, CEO of Atlantic Media's National Journal Group, noting the public-policy advertisers eager to reach the influential attendees. "It's our audience, political and an inside-the-beltway crowd. It's like an industry convention. From an ad standpoint, it's where the political crowd is and we sell a hell of a lot of advertising."

Mr. Sullivan said National Journal is seeing a double-digit gain in advertising from four years ago and that producing the convention publication is also "fun." "It's the one time that that National Journal products are read by everyone and we are running head to head," he said, noting the convention publications compete for stories with major dailies on deadlines.

Marc Rosenberg, the Washington Post's manager of corporate and public policy advertising, said the newspaper produces its special convention editions because the "Washington Post is known for its coverage of politics and the convention is the big story." He said it also makes a lot more sense logistically to produce a special edition tailored with news and ads targeting the attendees than shipping the paper from Washington to the conventions.

Fran McMahon, publisher of The Hill, said the conventions represent a gathering of the publication's Washington audience; Hugo Gurdon, the paper's editor in chief, said it just makes sense.

"We are a newspaper about congressional politics and federal politics, which is looked at to cover political events," he said. He said the conventions are "an extraordinary concentration of political operators and stakeholders" and "a huge political event" and it's only natural to have the paper there.

Roll Call Managing Editor David Meyers said the conventions are important to the publication's readership. "Even though the outcome of the conventions are a foregone conclusion, there is still news to be covered," he said, adding the publication can showcase the news and analysis it provides.

Special sections
Local newspapers in the convention cities, meanwhile, are targeting convention-goers, readers and advertisers with special sections.

"It's a great opportunity to expand our current advertisers' reach," said Don Bellavance, director of national sales for the Denver Newspaper Agency.

In St. Paul, Pioneer Press Editor Thom Fladung said he was hopeful the Politico link would give the paper additional resources and something unique.

"They are good and savvy at political reporting. We are the only ones in town that will have Politico, and we hope it sets us apart," he said.

Vanity Fair, Lifetime
Meanwhile, some non-Beltway cable channels and publications are focusing on hosting forums and parties for attendees.

Vanity Fair, which has traditionally thrown a glittering post-Oscars party and another after the White House Correspondents Association dinner, is doing its first party for the closing nights of the Democratic and Republican conventions, in partnership with with Google.

"We thought it would be good to have presence at the convention," said a spokeswoman for the Conde Nast title.

Lifetime TV will take its Every Woman Counts campaign to both conventions, joining with MTV's "Rock the Vote" for musical events, and holding forums with women leaders.

Toby Graff, senior VP-public affairs, said the events are part of an overall effort "to help get women's voices heard and to celebrate women's leadership at both conventions."

"We will be sharing the events and information coming out of the conventions with [or audience] to inspire women to be more engaged in the political process and to provide them with resources they need to make their voting decisions," she said.
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