A few weeks back I announced some changes to our home delivery to better match up our readers’ addresses with the edition of our papers that they receive.
At the same time, I also welcomed new readers in communities we were adding, including Long Lake Ranch in Lutz and Estancia in Wesley Chapel.
My staff and I spent weeks preparing for these changes. We also were mindful of how they would affect the zip code penetration that our national advertisers want to reach with their advertising circulars.
Well, it’s been four weeks since we implemented our changes, and I wish I could tell you it was smooth sailing. Sadly, it was not.
We received many, many calls and complaints from readers who did not receive the correct edition (we have four — Lutz, Land O’ Lakes, Wesley Chapel and East Pasco); did not get their paper delivered by Wednesday; or, who simply did not get their paper at all.
Which is why I am writing this column— to apologize to our readers who have had problems with their home delivery, and to ask your patience as we continue to resolve these issues.
We are very sorry this happened, and are hopeful that this week’s delivery is going much more smoothly. Please accept our apologies for the confusion and delays.
While these distribution problems have been painful, there is a silver lining. If our implementation had gone as planned, we would not have heard from so many readers, who told us how much they look forward to reading our paper, and how upset they were that their paper did not arrive as usual.
Almost every call we’ve received in recent weeks came from people like this. And, as we heard again and again from callers how much they like The Laker or Lutz News, it warmed our hearts and made us feel needed and appreciated.
Understand, the calls we usually get about delivery come from people who do not want the paper. While most are polite, many are surprisingly angry, even foul-mouthed, and insistent we have no right to deliver “our trash” to their home.
Well, we do, thanks to the First Amendment. But we don’t tell them that, or suggest they may enjoy our stories about their neighbors and community. Instead, we politely ask for their address, and add it to our opt-out list.
As a free newspaper, we maintain an opt-out list of addresses from residents who do not want our paper — the opposite of a paid newspaper’s paid-subscriber list.
And, here’s what’s amazing about our opt-out list. Out of a total weekly circulation of 44,800, only 1,295 addresses are on our opt-out list — less than 3 percent of our distribution.
We already knew from our annual audit that most residents in Lutz, Land O’ Lakes, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills and Dade City read The Laker or Lutz News every week. Our readership score is 81 percent — which makes us one of the best-read newspapers in the country.
But, hearing directly from readers that we are wanted, and we are missed if their newspaper doesn’t arrive, energizes us to continue our mission to produce a quality community newspaper every week, with stories that matter.
Published July 27, 2016