In 2007 I was brought on board at the Texas Jewish Post to give the publication, which was family-owned since 1947 — meaning it predated the state of Israel — a new look. The print, advertising and online products all needed some revamping. While the publication had a solid readership, they wanted to attract and retain younger readers, which was a challenge because that meant bridging a gap between readers over 70 years old and readers in their early 30s. Here's what we did:
- The original look was pretty average as far as community newspapers go, but the publisher had just inherited ownership of the paper and wanted to give it a real "presence."
- The TJP Guide to Jewish Living was the large annual project — it was a 72 page directory of listings of Jewish businesses and organizations. The Guide was also well-used by readers but again, the publisher was looking for a completely new look.
- The old web site was run and maintained by a service that specialized in newspaper web sites, but it wasn't terribly functional — online advertising was hard — we didn't have a lot of control over the look, and it looked dated. The email section still had an animated mailbox .gif, and the in-house Click and Subscribe ads also needed an update.
- The flag was changed to read "TJP" instead of "Texas Jewish Post" for greater impact. I began to treat the cover as a true "cover," meaning that no stories began on it. This was a HUGE time-saver for production, since the cover could be treated independently instead of waiting on 3 to 4 stories to come in later on deadline. We also started using either custom illustration, stylized graphics, or professional photography for cover art. This made a huge difference in how the publication was viewed by local business. It was taken more seriously, and that change was reflected in advertising sales.
- While the Guide was already well-used, I wanted to make it more of a coffee-table piece, something people would leave laying about because it was pleasant to look at and use, rather than tucking it away. I did the custom illustration the years I was there. There was a lack of hip, modern Jewish art on stock art sites and in general online, so this gave the TJP a very unique, distinctive look.
- I redesigned the web site in Wordpress, which gave us more control over it. I modified the .php files and framework to support more online advertising, which was huge because we didn't have that revenue stream available before.