Funeral Industry News

Obituaries Are Dead, Article Rejected By Industry Print Pub?

October 19, 2009
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Obituaries Are Dead, Article Rejected By Industry Print Pub?

image As many of you may know, I write a monthly commentary column for Mortuary Management. My articles are to be based off of the most popular articles posted on each month.

I submitted the below article to the publisher last Friday. Early Friday evening I received a call from the publisher informing me that my article was not going to be published because it was not relevant to today’s funeral directors.

My article focused on the “Finally, an Obituary Worth Reading!” article that I posted last week. The article received over 1300 views and generated tremendous feedback. I assumed this must mean this article was relevant to today’s funeral director.

I was told by the publisher that my article was off base – wasn’t relevant to the industry as a whole and didn’t follow in the direction the magazine thinks the industry is headed.

The reasons given as to why this article was not relevant to today’s funeral director were:

  • only 10% of all deaths result in an obituary being printed
  • Funeral Directors don’t do obituaries anymore, they let the family write the obit and submit it to the newspapers on their own
  • Funeral Directors don’t charge for obituaries
  • The funeral home name doesn’t even appear in obituaries, so saying that obituaries are a form of advertising for the funeral home is wrong
  • Families are turning away from obituaries

I found many of these statements to not be correct based on my interaction with funeral directors from across the US on a daily basis.

Below is the article that I submitted to the publisher. I would like to have your feedback and see if this article is really not relevant to today’s funeral director.

If you are like me you spend valuable time every day going through the local newspaper obituary sections. You are browsing the names to see if any are familiar while at the same time checking to see what your competition is doing. Every so often there is a name we recognize, so we pause for a minute and being to read the obituary.

I usually don?t make it past the top third of the obit. I just can?t continue reading. Why? It puts me to sleep.

Obituaries seem to all be the same, the only thing different is the names. I mean, what do you really learn about the person from reading their obit ? how many children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren they had? I never feel like I know who the person was after I finish reading (if I finish) their obituary.

The definition of obituary is ?a notice of someone’s death; usually includes a short biography.? It seems most have forgot to include the short biography part, the part that might actually get someone to finish reading the obituary.

The obituary should be one of the single most important responsibilities of a funeral director when meeting with a family. Think about it?what is the single greatest form of advertising you do for your funeral home? If you said ?sponsoring the local little league team? you are very wrong. If you said ?obituaries? then, ding-ding you win! Your firm publishes obituaries, with your name in them, every day in your local newspaper that circulates to your primary market. Are you utilizing the obituary to help your firm stand out among your competition?

Last week I was emailed the most entertaining obituary I have ever read. It began like a typical biography, which immediately began to pull me in. I learn about how the deceased loved children and would make baked goods in the summer for all the children playing in the neighborhood. I learned about her likes and dislikes. The obituary also shared some of the deceased?s finer moments in life as well as some of her not-so-proud moments.

Before I knew it I had read an obituary that was laid out across two entire pages. When I was done I felt like I had known the deceased her whole life.

I sat back and thought to myself ?Finally, an obituary that was worth reading!?

What if your firm began offering obituaries like this – a short biography of the deceased?s life? Think of the response you would get from your community.

I am sure this obituary cost this family hundreds of dollars, but they did the very best they could in honoring their loved one?s life. The deceased?s daughters, who were both accomplished authors, wrote the obituary. Most families don?t have access to professional authors, but what if your firm offered one for the family to use?

Thinking outside the box is what will put your firm above your competition. Don?t be afraid to stand out for doing something different, especially when it only helps to honor the life of your customer?s loved ones.

I challenge you to begin to start offering obituaries that are ?finally worth reading!?

I look forward to reading your comments.