One of the oldest marketing moves by newspapers is to distribute free copies to non-subscribers.
In Chapel Hill, I noticed that one of the local papers was delivering a portion of each paper that covers Chapel Hill to non-subscribing households. Most of these papers sat, untouched, on the driveways. I really wonder if this resulted in any new subscribers. It forces the person receiving the paper to actually look at it without any guidance.
Here in Nice, where I am now, yesterday's local newspaper was not put on driveways, but it was free. They do this periodically when they have support, in this case from a local bank. So the papers appear in all the normal places, and one need only pick it up and it is yours. There is a wrapper on the outside with a little info about the bank and a sailing event that it has sponsored. Instead of wrapping the paper in practical and interesitng guidance, there were just platitudes about how wonderful the paper is; if it does not look like there is something wrong with this picture, you are not looking at the right picture!
What's missing in both of these is remarkable. Where is the "guide" for the customer or the non-customer to what lies in that paper. For the customer, it is a chance to remind about the value and the utility of the paper, and for the non-customer, it is a chance to introduce the paper, creatively, and quickly. The absence of this is one of the reasons why I think newspapers are not going to muster enough creativity to get themselves out of the hole in which they now sit.