An Interesting Approach to Content Creation at the StarTribune

Here’s an interesting example of how content is created for the StarTribune’s business section.

Solicit questions for a Q&A in the business section. But, don’t pay a StarTribune business reporter track people down local business folks with questions. Instead, let a PR firm find sources with questions that their client is willing to answer. Then serve it up in the StarTribune (a reputable newspaper).

The following source request is from a newsletter used by journalists to find sources for stories. This particular request may look like it comes from a Star Tribune reporter but the “reporter” in this case is an account supervisor for a local PR firm. St Thomas’ business college is one of their clients.

Summary: Star Tribune Seeks Thoughtful Questions for Expert Advice Column

Name: Jeff Trauring Star Tribune

Category: Business and Finance


Media Outlet: Star Tribune

Deadline: 7:00 PM EST – 3 September


The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s weekly business column “Outside
Consultant” is looking for entrepreneurs and small business
owners who have questions that require expert advice. Professors
from the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business
answer short questions regarding small businesses and
entrepreneurship every Monday. Past topics include: hiring,
employee relations, work/life balance, marketing, business
ethics, HR, real estate, business law, leadership, etc. Please
submit a creative 1-3 sentence question if you think you might
benefit from this column. You will get free expert advice and
you will also get to see your name and your company’s name
printed in a reputable newspaper with nearly 300,000 readers and
featured on the Star Tribune website.

Here’s an example of what the end product looks like on the StarTribune’s website:

Question for Opus in the StarTribune

The person/business who lobbed that question to the PR firm earned a link in a major daily newspaper’s website for their effort. In this case, a Minnesota based college handed out free advice in a Minnesota based newspaper to a Chicago based business thanks to a Minnesota based PR firm.

That’s an interesting tactic for content creation that doesn’t involve paying content creators. Just run PR-scrubbed Q&A’s instead.

And, if you run a local business school and would like to generate some PR through a Q&A section in a local newspaper – but don’t actually want to bother talking to local businesses in order to do so – this is one way to accomplish that goal.

If readers are satisfied with the results, great. If they wonder why the heck professors at St Thomas’ Opus School of Business are answering questions from Chicago based businesses in the StarTribune, here’s your answer.

3 thoughts on “An Interesting Approach to Content Creation at the StarTribune”

  1. To add irony, or insult to injury, I believe two out of three or three out of four Opus subsidiaries – of the parent firm that bought themselves naming rights to the the St Thomas College of Business – filed for bankruptcy in the last couple of years, just like the Strib.

  2. I find it kinda funny that you rip the Strib business section for being a mere cheerleader for local business (duh), yet two posts earlier you cite the Minneapolis – St. Paul Business Journal and their “40 Under 40” list as something other than complete fluff. Neither should have any validity.

  3. @Brad, fair point about the 40 Under 40 list. That isn’t the most hard hitting of news pieces. Regarding the Strib, if they’re going to cheerlead for local businesses, then find local businesses to cheerlead for rather than running Q&A’s like the one I showed for a business in Chicago.

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