The Advocate’s owner discusses community focus

The Advocate is focused on serving all the communities in which the newspaper circulates, owner and Publisher John Georges said Tuesday.

Georges bought The Advocate 11 months ago from the Manship family, which owned Louisiana’s largest daily newspaper and other Baton Rouge newspaper properties since 1909.

“It’s been a whirlwind tour,” Georges told the Public Relations Association of Louisiana’s Baton Rouge Chapter on Tuesday. “I’ve been everywhere in Baton Rouge. It’s very important for the community to know the newspaper owner is invested, involved and part of the community.”

Community boards were established in Baton Rouge and New Orleans so local leaders could advise The Advocate’s owners and management on ways to improve the newspaper and stay tied in to the local communities.

A community board will be established in Lafayette to provide a similar service to The Acadiana Advocate.

“We’re doing very well,” Georges said. “The paper here has been freshened up a little. We’ve brought in some new excitement. People here are reading a little more about the rest of the state, which is something new.”

The Advocate plans to launch weekly inserts in the upcoming year to provide more community news. The Advocate publishes weekly sections in Ascension, Livingston, Tangipahoa and St. Tammany parishes and in the New Orleans area.

“The Advocate has never really had a Capitol Weekly,” Georges said. “You’re going to see some more of those hyper-focused areas. It helps with advertisers.”

The New Orleans Advocate is adding 500 to 600 subscribers a week, while The Acadiana Advocate is adding 100 to 200 new subscribers a week.

While not all of those subscribers are continuing to get the newspaper, it shows advertisers the newspaper’s ability to get new customers.

The New Orleans Advocate has between 25,000 to 30,000 people buying the newspaper daily, Georges said last month.

“I think we will double our circulation in New Orleans,” Georges said. “We’ve already doubled it. I think we will double again. But it won’t be overnight.”