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Industry trends show that print notice volume in the obituary category is decreasing year over year. Why? It’s hard to pinpoint one specific reason, but here are a few (of many) contributing factors: Death rates may be down, Facebook/social media, perception of the print obituary as old fashioned, cost of placing an obituary, and more. With the rise in social media platforms, such as Facebook, more and more people are opting to post the news of a death to their networks directly online or through the Funeral Home’s website.

The Press-Enterprise wanted to be proactive about combatting this trend in obituary placement and began looking at the category to find out where their areas of opportunity were. They noticed that not only were their number of obituaries declining year over year, but also that they didn’t have much diversity in their obits; despite having a large Hispanic community in the area, they had a disproportionately low number of Hispanic obituary placements. This provided a huge area of opportunity to them.

Increasing Obit Placement with Integrated Ads

Together, with Legacy.com, The Press-Enterprise created a unique suite of ads to promote print obituary placement to their readers. The ads were designed to look like obituaries and be integrated into the obituary section. These obit-style ads are styled after different demographics prominent in the community and tell the fictional deceased’s story, including their hobbies, talents, interests, and a photograph.

The Press-Enterprise ran three different obituary promo ads in print, usually scheduling about 10 insertions throughout the month. They featured the three key demographics they wanted to grow placement in: A Hispanic woman, an African-American man and a Caucasian man.

Driving More (and Higher Quality) Obituaries

Since launching this promotional campaign, The Press-Enterprise has seen an increase in obituary volume and an increase in the size and quality of their obituaries.

“The promos actually have some copy about the fictional deceased person that tells a story about their life. We have noticed that people have picked up on this style of writing. Before, we were getting many obits with just basic information on age, dates, relative’s names, and services information. Now, we are seeing a lot more creativity in writing. People are sharing about the loved one’s hobbies and talents, they are sharing more about their personalities and telling their life stories.”

Diane Hansen

Classified Advertising Manager, The Press-Enterprise


The success of this ad campaign inspired The Press-Enterprise to create a special handout that they give to the funeral homes in their market. This guide helps the funeral director better explain the newspaper options to the families they are serving. On one side, the guide contains sample fictional obituaries with pricing and contact information, on the other side they provide reasons why placing an obituary is important and obit-writing tips. They distributed these flyers to all of the funeral homes in their community to be given out directly to the families they serve.

“Our mortuary counselors say that the flyers are extremely helpful. And we have noticed obits coming in written in the same style.”

Diane Hansen

Classified Advertising Manager, The Press-Enterprise

Growing the Obituary Category

The ads and obituary-writing guide, along with other initiatives such as Funeral Home Local Spotlight, has resulted in a year-to-date increase in revenue of about 15% for the Press Enterprise’s obituary section.

Use Legacy to Market your Obituaries – For FREE


Let us help you and your newspaper be as successful as possible. You don’t have to make your own creative, we’ve done it for you and it’s free.


  1. Custom ads. We can customize obit-style ads to drive obituary placement in your market. To see samples of ads that can be customized for your market demographics, click here.
  2. Obituary Writing Guide. Give our customizable Obituary Writing Guide to your funeral homes to help promote the value of the newspaper obituary. To view the form, click here.
  3. Editorial Content. Take advantage of our print-ready editorial articles to build more space for your advertisers and drive additional print advertising revenue. To see the editorial options we have available to you, click here.

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