Freedom Revives La Prensa and Excelsior and Learns a Lesson: ‘Don’t Kill Established Media Brands’
What: Freedom News Group Spanish-language weekly Unidos en el Sur de California, which was introduced last year by combining the circulation of Excelsior and La Prensa, is now reviving both brands. Freedom News Group is reintroducing its weekly Spanish-language UNIDOS newspaper as two distinctly local editions: La Prensa and Excélsior.
Why it matters: Media brands that are recognized and appreciated by local audiences and the ad-community are very important assets. Freedom News Group is recognizing that and "reviving the Excelsior and La Prensa brands.
When Freedom News Group "killed" the Excelsior and La Prensa brands by launching Unidos en el Sur de California in March last year, several observers who preferred to remain anonymous at the time told Portada, that they did not think it was a good idea to eliminate two established brands from both the audience and advertiser perspective. Now the leadership of Freedom News Group has realized that too: "To actively engage and better serve the 3.3 million Latinos that live and work in Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties, Freedom News Group is reintroducing its weekly Spanish-language UNIDOS newspaper as two distinctly local editions – La Prensa and Excélsior – starting today," the company said.
We discovered we were fighting our legacy a bit, and needed to embrace their local identities again in the same way our communities have from the beginning.
"The brands have always had a reference on the masthead-stated as 'anteriormente La Prensa' and 'anteriormente Excélsior' following the UNIDOS name change last year," Orlando Ramirez, publisher of La Prensa and Excélsior,, tells Portada. "We discovered we were fighting our legacy a bit, and needed to embrace their local identities again in the same way our communities have from the beginning. La Prensa and Excélsior have nearly 40 years of combined history. Readers and advertisers come to trust and recognize them," Ramirez adds.
La Prensa, founded in 1999, concentrates on news and information specific to Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Excelsior, founded in 1992, focuses on Orange County. "If there’s a regional, national or international story that applies to Latinos in both markets, the stories may be the same but have different quote sources, market-specific photos and many other local elements," says Ramirez.
Additionally, the newspapers will also launch local websites on ocexcelsior.com and laprensaca.com websites this summer, leveraging a mobile-friendly platform that delivers market-specific content and location-based advertising. According to Ramirez, "Digital is an area of high interest and opportunity, particularly on the mobile front. We recognize the importance of a strong digital component and will evolve our online offerings as part of a second phase of enhancements this summer. The priority was to bring local focus back to the print brands—Excelsior and La Prensa—first and then turn attention to digital in the coming months." Ramirez, a 33-year journalism veteran in Southern California, will be hosting Meet the Publisher events with Latino leaders at the newspapers’ offices to explain how they can be more actively involved and engaged with their local newspapers.
Total Friday circulation for the two newspapers is 170,000. La Prensa distributes 95,000 copies in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, and the eastern tip of Los Angeles County. Excélsior distributes 75,000 copies in Orange County. Both papers are distributed across nearly 3,000 rack and retail locations.
Discontinued Los Angeles Distribution
As part of a renewed local focus in serving core Inland Empire and Orange County markets, Freedom News Group refined its distribution footprint. It pared down distribution in outlying Los Angeles and Coachella Valley areas, and increased distribution in high-traffic rack locations in the core Inland Empire and Orange County markets. "For example, Excelsior added 36,000 additional copies in top-performing distribution locations within South Orange County. That said, La Prensa still has distribution in high-density Latino communities within Eastern Los Angeles County," says Ramirez.
Freedom News Group sales teams, both local retail reps and national account reps, will sell the two newspapers from offices in Riverside and Santa Ana. "On the national level, we have a veteran multicultural sales specialist, Anita Grace, who represents La Prensa and Excélsior in front of national and global brands. She has been part of Freedom’s Spanish-language strategy for several years.
According to Ramirez, the categories that are the most promising include "Consumer categories including apparel, grocery, electronics, personal finance and telecommunications are key categories. Among our existing advertising partners are Walmart, JC Penney, Target, Best Buy, CVS and Wells Fargo."