Green Bay Press Gazette coupon inserts: The Inside Scoop Part 2
Friday I spent some time on the phone with Dave Sielski, the Circulation Manager at the Green Bay Press-Gazette. I wanted to get as many of your questions answered about the hit-or-miss style of coupon inserts in the Sunday newspapers. You can see part one of my interview here:
Sielski told me what I suspected all along, “We’re all at the mercy of the advertisers.”
One of the biggest frustrations people have mentioned is Red Plum inserts not being in newsstand copies. Sielski says, “As the economy struggles, so are businesses and they are cutting their advertising budgets.” Red Plum has cut back on advertising much more than Smart Source. So most subscribers to the P-G get Red Plum but it is rarely in the single sales copy because of how many inserts Red Plum is paying for in the Green Bay market.
So what can we do? If you want to deal directly with the Press-Gazette, the first choice would be to subscribe to the weekend edition of the paper (920) 435-4411); that would ensure the maximum inserts available. Other options include stopping by the Press Gazette or calling on Monday morning to order papers directly from them.
I asked Sielski about extra coupon inserts from unsold papers and he mentioned that the Press-Gazette’s contracts with the advertisers prohibit them from pulling out extra coupon inserts and selling or giving them away. He’s knows about coupon services like Whole Coupon Inserts and can’t fathom where they get copies of inserts unless it’s directly from the advertisers. The P-G does not send them to the recycling center for people to pick through; they are under contract to destroy inserts from unsold papers that are returned to them. (If, however, stores return papers without inserts, there is no way for the newspaper to gauge whether they were originally stuffed with them or they were the ones without).
Which then led to a conversation about honest carriers. I know Green Bay Consumer reader Sarah mentioned on my post a few weeks ago that after working in a store, one customer specifically was given a limit on how many coupons she could use–it turned out she was a newspaper carrier. Sielski says the newspaper takes those allegations seriously and if any subscriber ever has a problem with missing inserts to let the paper know. Carriers can be terminated and charged with theft.
This made me think of the Community Snapshots free newspaper that everyone in the county should get on their doorstep on Wednesdays or Thursdays and occasionally on Saturdays, too. Because since January, Smart Source coupon inserts have been appearing in that paper. Sielski said that is a promotion that Smart Source wanted to try and is part of their contract, they are not “extra” coupon inserts but specifically placed there per the advertiser’s request.
I mentioned to Sielski about my sporadic delivery of the Community Snapshots paper–I’ll get it for three months and then not get again for almost a year, then again for a couple of months but then nothing. He said almost anyone located in Brown County is supposed to get those free papers–carriers are supposed to deliver them. If they aren’t, they can be terminated. If you do not get a Community Snapshots, call the paper and ask to make sure the route manager is alerted to the problem.
While these answers provide little satisfaction for those of us who do not subscribe to the newspaper but rather decide week-to-week based upon Sunday Coupon Previews whether to buy a paper, at least we have concrete answers as to what is happening and why. I’ve also mentioned before that the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s inserts are usually thinner and contain less coupons which is why I prefer to buy from a coupon service. The only problem that arises is when there are very regional coupons like liquor coupons for Wisconsin or my beloved Green Mill Frozen Pizzas.
For those of you who wondered about the “Save an average of $480 (this week’s number) This Sunday” ads that are in Saturday’s paper and then the note on top of the Sunday paper itself, I talked to Erica Van Boxel, the Magazine Manager at the Press-Gazette. She confirmed my theory that those numbers are based upon the ads in contained on the actual pages of the paper as well as coupon inserts. An ad in the paper today has a $250 coupon for Appleton Deck Renewal. Next to it is an ad with a coupon for a Free eye exam at Bellevue Family Dentistry–a $266 value. Technically they are not lying but the paper is not just talking about coupon inserts.
I feel a little better after making these phone calls because Sielski did answer all my questions and confirmed most of the theories I had come up with. He also said that he does take information and concerns from every phone call to the advertising department so they can talk to advertisers like Red Plum. Sielski mentioned specifically they are trying to get Red Plum to up their advertising copies because it’s obvious non-subscribers want them, too!
What’s your plan of action now? Will you subscribe to the paper? Or just check your paper as you buy it to see if there are inserts? Stop by their offices or call on Monday to order? Or skip them completely? Besides talking to the correct department this week to make sure I get my Community Snapshots delivered, I know that my personal plan of attack hasn’t changed, but will yours?