Wehaa and Lee partner to help local businesses

Kevin Collins

May 1, 2020

COVID-19 hit the newspapers hard. Closing local businesses also closed down the need for businesses to advertise. With most newspapers struggling and low on cash, Wehaa stepped into action.

In mid-March, Wehaa reached out to its newspaper partners with a couple of crisis-relevant ideas to help during this difficult time.

The new ideas included a restaurant guide that displays who’s open, delivering, doing take-out, etc. The restaurant solution also syncs up local delivery services like GrubHub and Uber Eats.

Other ideas included replacing physical events with virtual events like a Shop from Home — Virtual Tent Sale.

Meagan Danielsen, senior product manager for Lee Enterprises, responded and scheduled a demo to see what Wehaa had developed. During the demo, she asked about doing a gift card portal to help support local businesses.

After the phone call, Wehaa went to work and provided a proposal in 24 hours. Wehaa discounted the setup fee and per advertiser fee while eliminating the standard six–month commitment.

Lee did not think the proposal was going to work. “We are also seeing advertisers, large and small worry (just like all of us) about the future, how long will this go on and how should they conduct business going forward. That uncertainty is affecting ad buys, as you can imagine,” Danielsen said.

Advertisers are not spending money right now, so both sides decided to provide sponsorship ads along with the gift card ads, and Wehaa cut their prices even more to make this work.

Betsy Green, project manager at Lee Enterprises, was brought on to work with production and logistics. She worked with Wehaa to create the advertiser entry form, layout design and specifics.

Over 70 newspaper markets were included on the buildout, and Wehaa had to work fast to meet deadlines. Green reached out to all of Lee’s markets and gave them an overview and marketing script, and then everyone was off to the races.

In less than three days, Wehaa completed the first round of development and had more than 70 gift card guides live and ready for business.

“We’ve been working with Wehaa on the auto side and know how proficient they are,” Danielsen said. “However, we were amazed at how quickly they got us up and running.”

Cesar Montes, Wehaa president, said, “In the end, we weren’t going to let pricing stand in the way of helping out during this difficult time. We’ve been working with Lee on a big scale; they are one of our favorite partners, and we were going to come through for them, regardless.”

The business model included finding local sponsors to support each market, absorbing the hard costs.

Wehaa created a main landing page that hosts each Lee newspaper. Wehaa built localized gift card guides for each paper that included widget banners and camera-ready reverse publishing ads. There are links to each newspaper’s gift card guide, and the end user can search by keyword, category or city (live example: https://bit.ly/2YeGgOT)

There is a “Gift Card” button that links directly to the business’ gift card info page.

Wehaa also created a localized gift card guide for each newspaper and a unique business profile page for each participating business. The profile page includes a map, driving directions and street view for the business, contact info, website URL, hours of operation and is synced to each business’ social networks.

Lee’s markets were able to attract over 2,500 local businesses to participate, and the list is still growing.

Kevin Collins is the vice president of sales for Second Street Media. Email him at kevin@wehaa.com.