Bigger investments, but in fewer venues

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David Hunke, who in April was named president and publisher of USA Today, takes charge at a difficult time for the spectrum-colored daily, the largest newspaper in the U.S. Ad revenue was down 34% in the first quarter, while circulation fell 7.5% to 2.1 million, for the six months ended March 31, according to the Audit Bureau of Circ-ulations, with cutbacks in business travel partly to blame.

MB: What marketing plans do you have to combat both declining circulation and erosion in ad budgets?

Hunke: We’re exploring expansion of our electronic edition and potential rapid rollouts. We’re working very closely with our blue-chip and hotel accounts to expand circulation and distribution. We’re [also] interfacing with more customers and offering more propositions and proposals to sales problems.

MB: How do you monetize content without alienating readers conditioned to accessing content for free?

Hunke: There will always be free access to a significant portion of our breaking news content. We’re going to be looking for ways to build specialized communities, supplemented either behind or bundled with paid-subscription models.

MB: What are some of the ways to better leverage the USA Today brand?

Hunke: It’s just too premature to answer that, but you will see USA Today fine-tuning its marketing and brand development. We’ll be more involved with bigger investments in fewer venues and will not be as diversified or as diluted. —M.S.

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