Listen to this story
By Greg Gerber
Editor, RV Daily Report
I find it just incredible that 10 years have passed since I published the first edition of RV Daily Report and sent it to 3,200 people on April Fool’s Day in 2009.
I was crazy, people said. There was not enough news in the RV industry to warrant a daily newsletter. Today, there are four such publications.
An entirely online publication wouldn’t work, people said. Professionals in the RV industry don’t have time – or desire – to go online for news. Now the internet is taking over.
Back then, news was six weeks old when magazines arrived via snail mail. Today, we can disseminate news in 60 seconds.
We have published hundreds of stories that other publications don’t find newsworthy to cover, and our editorials often get the industry talking about critical issues.
We couldn’t have done it without the support of some pretty incredible businesses and people who shared my vision. If you like what we’ve been doing at RV Daily Report and want to help keep it free and independent for another 10 years, please consider making a one-time or monthly donation!
I was looking at our Google Analytics numbers this weekend. Since I returned to RV Daily Report in January, unique visitors are up 150.35%, visits to our site are up 113.32% and page views are up 83.58%.
I took great pride in noticing that we returned to the top of RV industry publications last month, as ranked by Alexa.com, an Amazon company.
Lots of things have changed in 10 years, but they need to change again.
In 2009, news aggregators like RV Daily Report were all the rage. Search engines loved websites like ours that assembled a variety of news about a specific industry. Rather than visiting dozens of websites every day, people could come to our single location to find links to all types of industry-related news.
Today, search engines, such as Google, don’t like news aggregators and work to punish sites like ours by burying them in search results. Rather than wanting more aggregation, there now seems to be an insatiable demand for original content.
It is that demand that is forcing me to make some tough decisions as we prepare for our second decade of service to the RV industry.
Change No. 1 – Limited press releases
Many of the press releases we see today are ho-hum.
They contain two sentences of real news followed by six paragraphs explaining why the company, product or service is the greatest thing ever.
Nobody really likes to read release after release, yet four publications in the RV industry are devoted to sending them out — the same content . . . to the same readers . . . day after day after day.
RV Daily Report 2.0 will limit the number of press releases we publish.
Genuine news will always be covered. However, we will be very selective in the types of press releases we deliver to our readers going forward.
Most releases will wind up in a special news story titled Today’s News Briefs, which will include a headline and a one paragraph summary of the important gist of the releases.
Change No. 2 – More features
When I returned to the helm of RV Daily Report in December, I did so with a new vision for the publication.
Everyone loves stories, and there are a lot of incredible stories to tell in the RV industry. I laid out my vision for a new RV Daily Report in a podcast in late December.
However, my vision has been hampered by the incredible number of press releases sent to RV Daily Report every day. Most days, it takes anywhere from six to eight hours just to edit and format the releases.
By limiting press releases, we will have more time to research and write unique, one-of-a-kind stories, such as:
- A behind-the-scenes look at companies in the industry.
- Profiles about the people behind the brands.
- Stories about people actually using products being produced by the industry.
- Unique business management and leadership advice.
- Inspirational success stories.
- Features of people enjoying their RV adventures.
Everyone loves unique stories – readers, advertisers, Google and me! Expect to see more of them in RV Daily Report 2.0.
Change No. 3 – Partnerships
Since it’s inception, RV Daily Report has been financed exclusively through the sale of advertisements on our website and in our newsletter. The ads will continue.
However, some companies don’t want to advertise with us for fear of retribution. Some of the industry’s kingmakers occasionally don’t like what we cover or our tone. Our advertisers make easy targets, which is why I applaud them for their courage!
However, RV dealers, suppliers and campground owners who appreciate the fact RV Daily Report often covers stories that others ignore, have never had an opportunity to support our effort.
Today, we are going to offer two support options. Nobody else in the industry has adopted this business model, so I’ll admit it is a big risk and will likely evolve in the months ahead.
Donations – People who appreciate what RV Daily Report is doing can now make one-time donations or establish voluntary monthly subscriptions to support our mission.
I’ve pledged that 100 percent of the donations we receive will be used to create new and original content.
At the moment, I want to avoid putting any content behind a paywall, like the mainstream media does. If we get enough anonymous, voluntary donations to help RV Daily Report grow, everything will remain free.
However, I am dreaming up ways to provide perks to our financial supporters — perks that don’t involve me hand-washing their cars or RVs!
To make a donation, visit www.rvdailyreport.com/donate.
Business partnerships – Businesses will also have an opportunity to support RV Daily Report through monthly promotion plans. They can choose to publicly support us, or do so anonymously.
Those who do so publicly will have a special page on our website talking about the company, its products and services, and linking to any stories about the firm that we have published. The other perks remain the same.
These partnerships will also help us produce original content that can be shared with others and on social media.
In the past, nearly every company in the RV industry eventually supported every publication because of the special product sections that appear in magazines. For example, if April was the towing issue, and a company sold towing products, the firm would often buy an ad in that edition.
The one-time half- or full-page ad might not have been much in terms of overall financial support. But the advertising helped cover the publication’s expenses to deliver news and features all year long. That’s not the case anymore.
A total of 14 companies have provided 100 percent of RV Daily Report’s support over the past two years. Yet hundreds of companies send us press releases every year expecting us to deliver their messages to our audience.
I don’t think it is fair that some companies help cover our costs every month so that we can invest our time promoting their competitors over and over again. It just makes sense that companies which pay to support our platform should be the firms that get some extra love and attention from us.
Our business partners’ press releases will appear in RV Daily Report every day along with major news releases. Ordinary press releases will be relegated to the news briefs article.
Partnership packages will range from $19.95 to $999 per month and will include staff-written stories, blog posts, special publications, videos and discounts on advertising. Those prices compare very favorably to RV-industry magazines that still charge an average of $1,650 for a single one-quarter-page ad.
Maintaining editorial integrity
I know this will give the appearance of adopting a “pay to play” policy in which we only publish stories or press releases for companies that pay us to do so.
That is not the case!
If the news is important or if a story is interesting, we will publish it regardless of any financial support we may receive. We always have and we always will.
But RV Daily Report is taking a step to be like magazines, which get support from a wide range of companies that are subsequently rewarded with editorial content within the publications.
Rest assured that business partners will not be able to influence our editorial content or steer us away from covering important stories by threatening to withdraw their support.
I have quickly dropped advertisers which attempted to do that in the past, and will do so if it ever happens again.
If a company sees value in sending us press releases to convey the firm’s messages to our audience, then those companies should help cover the costs to maintain our platform.
RV Daily Report does not have a magazine to support our online effort. I’d start one today if I wasn’t convinced the next economic downturn will force many to close.
Magazines are big money makers for publishers. When I edited RV Trade Digest, we brought in $1.2 million in annual sales in 2006. That was enough to pay all the bills and still return $865,000 in profit to the corporate investors.
That kind of money pays for a lot of staff, equipment and travel.
As an online publication, our overhead isn’t nearly that great. Yet, with more income, I can hire more writers who can help prepare some incredible stories about the people and companies in the RV industry – stories people really like to read.
That’s what I hope RV Daily Report 2.0 will become – more stories, less distractions.
Be honest. Is this the right move for us to make? Please let me know in the comments below.