Mirror creates largest Thanksgiving edition

Altoona Mirror customers are holding their largest Thanksgiving Day paper ever.

“That growth is sort of a chicken-or-egg situation. The combination of local news, information and shopping and saving resources in the paper creates our tremendous value to readers, which creates our biggest print audience of the year, which provides the most value to advertisers, which leads to more advertisers, which improves the value, which brings more readers, and so on,” said Raymond Eckenrode, general manager advertising.

Production planning for the paper, with more than 40 advertising inserts and additional advertising wraps, begins months in advance, said Daniel Slep, circulation manager.

The distribution of advanced sections to stores, which sell single copies, and to carriers began on Sunday. This enables stores and the carriers to begin assembling the paper early, Slep said.

“The best description I’ve heard of how we put that Thanksgiving Day paper together is that it’s really four regular newspapers that we printed in advance inserted into that day’s newspaper. As such, it takes five times the planning, five times the communication and five times the effort of a regular paper. And, in all likelihood, it’ll take five times as long for a reader,” Eckenrode said.

The effort is a logistical challenge, Slep said.

“Advertisers and readers are asking us to perform. They expect good things to happen,” Slep said. “It is a huge challenge for both departments [circulation and mailroom] because of the value and demand for this special edition. It takes weeks of planning, but until that paper is delivered, our job is not done.”

The press run began early – at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“That is a big deal to us not only to our employees, but it also gives the production and delivery people more time to get it delivered. Weather permitting, our goal is to have everyone have their paper by 7 a.m., some could receive it [Wednesday] evening. It will be available at single copy locations before midnight,” Slep said.

The Mirror has been printing the Somerset Daily American since March and printed its Thanksgiving edition for the first time on Tuesday evening. The Somerset paper does not print on Thanksgiving Day.

“That is another layer that is a big challenge. Their holiday edition is on Wednesday, so that gives us a little breathing room,” Slep said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.