Fixing the Footprint
July 2023 | Industry Article
By Brian Rossi, COO of BellCornerstone
Having spent the last 10 years traveling the country and working with countless newspapers, it has become more obvious than ever that “fixing the real estate footprint” is one of the single most impactful things for a local newspaper. As spoken into truth by Marshall McLuhan “The medium is the message” - Not the obsolete, scanty occupied, former print facility on Main Street.
BellCornerstone is the nation’s leading commercial real estate firm specializing in newspaper real estate. For decades, Bell has helped clients reduce occupancy costs by way of reviewing and negotiating leases and auditing their operating expenses for discrepancies. While that remains a core component of Bell’s service offering, it seems more and more that newspaper companies now seek Bell’s expertise to divest their over-sized former print facilities and move into more modern, downtown, digital-vibed digs.
The obvious is often the obvious. Once an asset - now a liability - the divestiture of underutilized real estate releases “trapped” cash to pay down debt, fund acquisitions and to be saved for future rainy days. The net result also reduces ongoing operating expenses and eliminates deferred, often expensive, capital expenditures. Think roofs and costly HVAC systems.
A second, but less obvious, benefit of fixing the footprint is getting everyone back to working together in a common area with a common goal, and in a workplace that reflects a bright future in delivering local journalism to a community. Seemingly simple things like a new (smaller) office space with freshly painted walls, some bright new color schemes, and working air conditioning go a really long way in energizing the troops. The newly signed lease for the newspaper’s new home also plants a flag that says “Open for business and PS. We are here to stay!”
So, with all the obvious benefits of fixing the footprint, why then is it often such a dreaded and delayed decision? The “news” itself of the newspaper leaving its long-time home is almost always the scariest part of the entire movie. What will the local community, advertisers and staff think? How might they react?
Having seen this many times, it is a genuine concern. But, when done well, with straightforward communication, it almost always feels like the part in Titanic where we see Rose (and 705 others) are going to live. How many more could have been saved if the boats were launched sooner and fuller? When fixing the footprint is handled timely and correctly, instead of lifeboats, the passengers are racing off the old ship into speed boats, with big smiles and a newer, nicer, more modern destination right ahead.
Please don’t take offense with the playful metaphor but do consider the message. Procrastination, fear-based thinking and dangerous driving is a threat no matter the industry. These are times that call for clear thinking, smart analysis and experienced channel partners. If you’d like to have a confidential conversation about your real estate situation, we invite you to reach out to our team.
This article appeared in America's Newspapers.
Newspaper Real Estate Success Stories
With the ever-growing shift towards modernity and digitalization, it's becoming increasingly evident that newspaper companies are turning to BellCornerstone for their expertise. BellCornerstone is helping newspaper companies divest from their oversized, traditional print facilities and “fixing the real estate footprint.”
In the following case studies, explore how BellCornerstone has been instrumental in guiding newspapers towards reimagining their real estate strategies for a thriving future.