SNA To Local Media Association

Membership voted 5:1 to support name change

After forty years, Suburban Newspapers of America is changing its name. Local Media Association was recommended by a committee (including the SNA board of directors and the SNA marketing committee) that represented nearly 30 member companies. It was an intense five month process that included an enormous amount of healthy debate. The membership received ballots on December 1 and when the voting ended today, the motion had carried. In fact, SNA members supported the name change by a ratio of 5:1.

“It’s simple, self-explanatory, direct,” said Jon K. Rust, Co-President of Rust Communications and Chairman of the Board for SNA. “It puts ‘local’ first – just like we do as media organizations – and it shares that we’re not just newspapers anymore, but much more. It also says that we are united as an association, working together to become better.”

In 1971, SNA was formed when a group of entrepreneurial, family-owned newspaper publishers merged three other associations into this new one. The association has always carried the entrepreneurial spirit of those founding fathers with innovative and cutting-edge programs and research. In that vein, a new tag line has also been developed – “Innovate. Educate. Inspire.”

While the association had its roots in suburbia, that had changed to include many rural, urban and secondary markets in the past ten years. And the reference to America was not inclusive of the association’s large Canadian base.

“We recognized early on that no name will say it all or appeal to every member,” said Nancy Lane, President of SNA. “We do believe that Local Media Association emphasizes local first (what our members do best) and media emphasizes all of our product offerings. The name change in no way is meant to diminish our ties to print or the word newspaper. We will continue to serve local newspapers as well as all of their related digital and niche products.”

SNA members provided a lot of feedback during the voting process. Supporting comments included:

  • “It’s a more appropriate name for our future.”
  • “I like the name because it places emphasis on local content and it takes out the appearance that we are only newspapers.”
  • “I think the name change is a great idea. It describes more clearly what we do…Local Media…”
  • “Great decision; well done.”

For those that did not support the name change, there were a few reasons that stood out. Some wanted the word newspaper or news in the name while others were loyal to the word suburban.

The name change will officially take effect on January 1. Final logos are in development and the next few weeks will serve as a transition period.

The SNA board of directors will conduct a two-day strategic planning session in mid-January to determine priorities for the next 12-18 months. The association remains strong financially and will exceed budget in 2011. Despite the economy and related cut backs within the organization, SNA has remained profitable and has never had to touch long-term reserves during this economic downturn.

Current top priorities for SNA are the media sales certification program that was just launched in conjunction with Borrell Associates and Motivate America as well as the Local Media Innovation Alliance (LMIA) launched by the SNA Foundation. The media sales certification program offers print and digital courses for sales reps (basic to advanced) as well as managers. The courses are web-based and attendees must pass a comprehensive test to earn certification. LMIA is a side membership that produces monthly reports and related webinars on hot trends in the industry that focus on new business models, digital revenue growth and new products. The first report, “Developing an In-House Digital Agency,” is being released later this month and will focus on a main case study and three side studies.