- Kirsten Ballard
News Media Alliance announced the winners of its first “Top 30 Under 30” Awards program at mediaXchange 2016 in April, which honors young leaders working in every aspect of the news media who are contributing to the future success of the industry. Over the next several weeks we will feature profiles on the winners, highlighting their work and ideas, and how they’re helping the industry grow and evolve.
Michael Matthews started out selling life insurance.
He got to a point where he wanted a challenge. So when hearing “all that negativity, that newspapers are dying” he took a leap into the world of media.
He loves a challenge; he attributes it to growing up in sports. And after selling intangible life insurance, selling newspapers seemed like a good challenge.
Matthews is the Single Copy & Marketing Manager at The News & Advance. “To me, it was a challenge that I could get in, put my head down and work hard at to see a difference,” he says. “I want to show a community of people that we’re not dead; we just haven’t worked hard enough to put it in front of you.”
He gets a lot of his ideas from his daughter, who is going on five. She was the inspiration behind a coloring contest that Matthews says got “crazy results.”
He has also put an Easter egg hunt in the paper, requiring people to purchase a paper on Saturday—which isn’t traditionally the best-selling day of the week. The campaign targeted younger readers, requiring them to flip through the whole paper with their parents and find all six eggs. Readers who turned in completed papers were entered into a mini golf drawing.
“We grew our email base by 1,200 new emails, just by an Easter egg hunt in the paper,” he says.
His favorite part of his job is putting an idea together and seeing it in print. The tangible aspect, compared to life insurance, is a nice change.
“You can pick up a paper and look and see what you’ve done, and then you can see the numbers,” he says.
He wants readers to look at the newspaper the same way they look at social media or a television.
“We’re different than TV or social media, but you can’t be scared of different. We’re a staple, we’re the roots, we’re where it all started,” he says. “You need to look at it with respect as a legitimate news outlet.”
He was on the job for only eight months when he was nominated for News Media Alliance’s “Top 30 Under 30” awards. He was taken aback.
“I like winning awards for the younger generations,” he says. “It shows them they can work hard. You don’t have to go to the best college in the nation, you don’t have to come from money, you don’t have to do those things to be successful and to make a difference to people.”
At 26 years old, he says showing up to sell promotions to businesses around town takes some people by surprise.
“I’m young,” he says. “If I’m standing behind newspapers, why can’t we all?”