This month, we shine the member spotlight on area innovator, Cecile Brogan, founder and publisher of weekly newspaper Penny Power.
When Cecile Brogan couldn’t find the best deal in town, she decided to create it. From lost pets to goods and services, community functions and homes for sale, since the first issue of Penny Power rolled off the presses on March 11, 1981, Brogan, who is Penny Power founder and publisher, has held customer service and affordable advertising as her primary business goals. Brogan, an Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce member, began Penny Power with 36 advertisers assembled on 12-pages. That first issue reached 19,780 addresses. Today, roughly 132 advertisers have their message delivered weekly to 72,609 mailing addresses from Penny Power’s headquarters located at 202 South 3rd St., Coopersburg, Lehigh County.
“I considered everyone in that first edition to be a close personal and professional friend,” Brogan said. The same philosophy and affection toward regular advertisers continues today, Brogan said. What began more than three decades ago as a 7-member team has swelled to 30 employees.
Brogan said her biggest challenge – then as now- remains being a woman professional in publishing, an industry traditionally dominated by men. According to an annual survey published online in September 2014, by Publishers Weekly, the yearly pay gap between men and women in publishing for 2013 was roughly $25,000. The report went on to note that far fewer women than men make it to the top tier of publishing jobs. See the full report http://publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/64083-publishing-s-holding-pattern-2013-salary-survey.html.
“Saturation, service and sincerity” are hallmarks of Brogan’s guiding business philosophy; along with maintaining Penny Power’s reputation for upholding those values. Advertiser diversity is evident while paging through a recent edition of Penny Power. From church directories and Easter services listings, to a full page of food and produce advertisements for vendors located at the Quakertown Farmers and Flea Market, to Penny Power’s Easter Ham giveaway winners, the weekly publication is a convenient way for readers to shop local. The popular “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” notes, scattered throughout the publication, catch people both being good to one another, and sometimes not so good. Brogan said she has always had a soft spot for those less fortunate and “worries” about the underdog, part of her reason for founding Penny Power. “I did this because I worry about people who aren’t getting a fair shake in advertising and I believe there is a better way for people to advertise,” Brogan explained.
Penny Power is free to recipients and delivered through the U.S. postal service. “Years ago in town (Quakertown) we would hang the paper in plastic bags on front door knobs, and rural delivery was through the mail. Today everyone gets a (weekly) copy delivered through the mail,” Brogan explained.
Enthusiastic about chamber membership, Brogan said local chambers are important resources for business owners and should not be overlooked, even when budgets are tight. “I think chambers of commerce are vital to the local business community, and that business members should join their local chamber,” Brogan said.