We’ve talked about FREE Media before so this isn’t exactly breaking news, but today we finally reached a signed partnership agreement naming FREE Media as CUP’s official multi-market advertising sales partner! With the demise of Campus Plus, there are several advertising organizations out there and CUP thoroughly reviewed several of them but FREE was clearly the best choice for our members to restore them to a place of prosperity. Over the past month, FREE has been working hard to establish a national sales network and, from what I understand, they have regional reps stationed in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario (one for the GTA and one for greater Ontario), and Atlantic Canada (most of whom are business/sales managers at CUP papers) so that they don’t loose touch with the various different markets across Canada.

The fact is, it isn’t enough to just sell ads for our papers anymore, we need someone who will actively promote them! FREE Media believes in campus press as much as we do. They see that there are few mediums anymore where creativity drives the content and advertising is there just to supplement it and not interfere. They use papers to sell advertising, not advertising to sell papers — and that’s the way it should be. Students are the most advertised-to demographic in the world and FREE wants to harness that power and push it in to our papers.

The partnership is aimed at helping to improve papers, both by increasing paper’s ad revenues and through the business/design consultation services included in the partnership. FREE has also made a long-term sponsorship agreement to CUP that will see funds allocated to our national conference, cash prizes for the JHM Award, and funding business staff to attend NASH in Edmonton. Among other reasons, CUP chose FREE as a partner because of this long-term commitment to our organization.

In addition, FREE’s business model incorporates the newest trends in advertising and best practises that serve the interests of the papers first. These practices and polices (outlined below) are the result of many long conversations between FREE, CUP, and individual papers.

This commitment to serving paper’s interests is what makes FREE different that other companies competing for a stake in the campus market:

  • FREE will guarantee that a majority of net sales revenue from print and online sales will go directly to papers
  • FREE defines national sales exclusivity looks to the ad campaign itself in defining its market
  • FREE is currently developing a model for invoicing and remittance that will encourage faster payment through weekly billings and digital tearsheets.
  • FREE has hired regional sales reps (as mentioned above) to better serve each regional community (details on their site). This boots on the ground approach means there will be a networked sales team to develop a referral process between national clients and papers. These reps will not interfere with local advertising.
  • FREE sets national rates on a paper-by-paper basis that takes into consideration local rates, distribution, campus placement, and other factors in order to optimize national sales revenue.
  • FREE offers only exclusive agreements for print, or exclusively for print and online. This means if you’re represented by Rouge currently for online ads, you can partner with FREE for only print, but that would be an exclusive contract. As CUP’s preferred partner for multi-market advertising.

This is a partnership that is good for papers, good for CUP, and good for us as the student journalism community. That’s why CUP is endorsing FREE as our preferred advertising company for national and multi-market advertising. We encourage you to venture into this new partnership with us and we’re confident that it’s the best option for campus publications.

If you were at spring WRCUP in Victoria or ORCUP in Windsor or anywhere along their national tour to meet campus papers, you’ve probably met Vikram Seth and Ashleigh Brown, who are the Media Director and Operations Manager at FREE, respectively. They both come from campus press so they thoroughly understand this business. If you haven’t feel free to send them an email (vik@free-media.ca and ash@free-media.ca) or check out free-media.ca to see that they’re all about.

It’s time to look forward and we’re very excited about this new partnership. Please welcome FREE Media to the CUP team!