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Five things newspaper employees can do to help save their company

Usually we focus on ways to increase user engagement and sales, but there is nothing more frustrating then busting your butt to make your failing company a couple thousand dollars and then turning around to see the wasteful spending going on by so many employees. Here are five things you should really think about if you work for a local media company that is struggling to make it (or any company for that matter).

1. Travel Smart
Travel can add up quickly. While travel is necessary for some of us to do our job we should travel as if it was coming out of our own pocket. Are you booking flights with enough time to get a good deal or are you waiting until the last minute? Are you flying when it might be much cheaper to drive and only take an hour more? Are you booking to get personal travel miles instead of trying to save the company money? Are you going out to eat at expensive places you normally wouldn’t eat at? These are all things that might not cost the company a lot on an individual basis but add up very quickly. Also maybe you don’t have to travel could a video conference accomplish what you need?

2. Stop meeting about everything

If you have to have a meeting to do anything then maybe there are too many middle managers who are just there to say yes or no. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have meetings (or managers who approve things) but there are too many people that spend a majority of their day in meetings and can’t get anything accomplished without a meeting. That doesn’t help the company make money at all. It just slows down everything.

3. Figure out what you add
Ask yourself, if you were to take a three month vacation would the company take a hit financially? If the answer is no you should think about changing that or finding another job. Chances are if you just sit in meetings or only manage a handful of people (and you aren’t getting your hands dirty) then this might be you. Don’t be afraid to tell your manager that you want more to do or that you want to remove things from your plate because they aren’t meaningful to the company (I’ve done that many times and it usually results in a lot of respect from your manager). If you were your manager would you lay yourself off?

4. Stop useless spending
Sending a reporter and photographer to cover something in another market that your company has another paper in is absurd. Especially when your company is struggling. I’d rather have one less local person at the super bowl or at a handful of other events and use that money to keep a local reporter on the payroll. A lot of the useless spending also happens on things like supplies. An executive spending $300 on an office chair (especially when their are plenty of chairs around the office) shouldn’t be able to happen. Our company turned off everyones purchasing card. At first everyone panicked. But a couple months later and in our division we’ve only had a handful of situations where we needed to use one. I can only imagine how much money we’ve saved across the company.

5. Stop being so comfortable
All of the above can roll up into this one. But too many people blame our industry troubles in the bad financial times and say things like “it will get better.” I’ve got news for you…it won’t get any better if we don’t do anything to make it better. If you were an owner of your company would you be walking around saying “it will get better,” or would you be a little scared and try to make an impact? Maybe it’s time to be a little scared.

The best way for us to think about our situation is to imagine if our industry was the city government. You’d be running stories left and right on the wasteful spending going on or on the lack of change that is needed to keep up. We see these problems in the businesses we cover but it’s time we start looking at ourselves.

I’ll note that most of this change has to start at the top but it’s still our responsibility to make it happen. (Disclaimer: In the past I’ve been guilty of a little bit of the above…but it’s time to stop. Are you with me?)

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