Obama visit boosts MDI Islander circulation

President Barack Obama’s visit to Bar Harbor not only helped spotlight this tourist community around the world, it also was very good for the newspaper business.
The Mount Desert Islander’s issue profiling the First Family’s visit flew off the newsstands, racking up nearly 1,200 more single copy sales than the same week a year earlier.
In the week before the visit, Islander editor Earl Brechlin consulted with Julia Lewis of the Vineyard Gazette on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts to get an idea of what to expect when a sitting president comes to town. The Obamas spent a month on the Vineyard last August. The last president to visit Bar Harbor was William Howard Taft in 1910.
Circulation manager Deborah Tucker also talked with folks at the Gazette. The press run was upped by 1,000 and all island news dealers received an automatic extra draw for the week. Ms. Tucker, general manager Terry Carlisle and the Islander’s editorial staff and ad reps all helped restock stores over the weekend as the calls came in requesting extra papers.
“They are selling like hotcakes,” said one store owner in Northeast Harbor last Saturday.
In downtown Bar Harbor, one outlet that normally sells between 80 and 100 papers a week in July, sold just under 300.
According to Ms. Tucker, returns for the week were very light.
The advertising department also was able to sell some “welcome” ads in advance of the visit and many advertisers scrambled for space in the post-visit edition.
Based on the experiences at the Gazette, the Islander also substantially increased its pressrun and distribution for the post-visit paper but not by as large an amount. “We won’t know the actual numbers for another week,” said Ms. Tucker, “but sales today (Friday) are very brisk.”
The editorial staff of four reporters and two editors produced a package of eight stories crafted from more than 20 exclusive interviews, with photos, a photo spread page, as well as editorial cartoon and an editorial. That is in addition to daily Obama web updates and photos and all the regular news that make a typical peak summer issue.
“There is no question that having the president and his family above the fold is a huge draw,” said Mr. Brechlin.
Click here for a PDF version of the MDI front-page story on the Obama visit.