By Deb Shaw
Jon Rust, center, with Jack Robb, right, and Gareth Charter share a moment in Kansas
City last week.
Crowned with crystalline blue skies and wall to wall sunshine, Kansas City opened
her arms to hundreds of media professionals last week and the embrace was strong
and renewing. The spectacular weather and surrounding Country Club Plaza district
with its stunning architecture and lively fountains seemed to mirror the disposition
of those gathered for the SNA Fall Publishers’ and Advertising Managers’ Conference
— confident, eager and bullish in their continued pursuit of leveraging the unique
position that community media holds in markets across North America.
According to E&P’s Jennifer Saba, who moderated the keynote session, “I was pleasantly
surprised when I landed in Kansas City earlier (last) week for the Suburban Newspapers
of America annual fall publishers' conference. The mood was extremely lively — not
wake-lively either. I'm not the only one who noticed. Take it from John Cribb, principal
of Cribb, Greene & Associates, who surely has one of the most difficult jobs in
the world as a newspaper broker. Cribb noted a change in attitude this year compared
to last: Community newspaper publishers and executives have a sense of optimism
that was nowhere to be found in 2008.”
There was a palpable confidence in the air and conference chair Jon Rust of Rust
Communications felt it too. Describing the conference energy as electric he also
sensed a swing in the attitudes of the major advertisers in attendance. “There certainly
appears to be a clear shift in how they look at community newspapers. With the highest
penetration in the best markets, community newspapers deliver results, and are becoming
more vital as other media continues to fractionalize. I also thought that many of
the sessions reinforced how important it is for newspaper companies to work together
in devising online solutions rather than going it alone. Overall, it was simply
a provocative, high-energy and productive conference that I think people will look
back on in the future and realize it was an inflection point in the history of the
media landscape, especially with the launching of zip2save.com.”
The three day program, preceded by a day of one-on-one meetings with influential
media buyers representing companies like Best Buy, TJX and Kohl’s, packed a powerful
punch — timely topics, deep content and an eager audience who came ready to learn
Steve Parker, left, Tom Shaw and Cindy Hefley prognosticated about the next 10 years
for the community media industry. The sporting attire was a nod to the 'game changing
moment' that exists right now.
For the first time in history, SNA partnered with Inland Press Association for part
of the conference and the opening session brought leaders from the two associations
together to creatively look ahead — to 2019 — and openly reflect on what will transpire
between 2009 and 10 years down the road.
Certain that community media will continue to develop their exceedingly desirable
market positions into profitable and creative connections with local residents,
Steve Parker, Tom Shaw, Jon Rust, Jack Robb and Cindy Hefley donned their favorite team attire
to exemplify the game changing moment in which community media companies are fortunate
to be smack dab in the middle of.
They pushed the audience to reflect on the power of connection that local media
companies have with their valuable audiences and reminded the packed meeting room
that the audience-extending digital work they do over the next ten years combined
with their continued community bond via core products and superior brand awareness
will help to secure long term fiscal health and market position.
Jack Robb shared a brand new marketing initiative for community newspapers that
is coming out of the SNA Marketing committee — a celebrity reader campaign that
will vividly demonstrate the many national, regional and local celebrities who rely
on a local newspaper to keep them informed. Look for the playbook on how you can
create a local “celebrity campaign” on SNA’s website soon.
One way all local media companies can push their digital advertising offerings immediately
is with zip2save.com, the innovative new revenue initiative launched by LocalPoint
Media. The buzz at the conference about zip2save.com was widespread and many conference
attendees signed participation contracts on the spot.
Conceived in the spring, LPM owners teamed up with flyerland.ca, the seasoned and
thriving online insert and advertising network owned by Metroland Media Group, to
provide the technical framework for the site. As a result, zip2save.com is on an
accelerated pace to launch….and succeed. Noted industry consultant Gordon Borrell
of Borrell Associates told those in Kansas City to “brace yourselves for success.”
zip2save.com launched October 1st and participating newspapers are utilizing their
promotional assets to boost awareness and drive consumer traffic.
The site targets shoppers who want to know the best deals locally — the site is
searchable to the zip code level — and users will find online circulars, coupons,
local deals and travel specials. Newspapers share in the national revenue generated
by LPM and keep the lion’s share of what they sell themselves. The revenue potential
is significant as is the ability to offer ad clients the means to digitally extend
their reach of consumers in the most desired markets.
Merle Davidson, Director of Media Services of JC Penney Company, applauds the initiative
as great thinking by the community newspaper industry and commented that “We see
this site as a way of extending our advertising reach and connecting with more consumers,
all with several, flexible capabilities.” Randy Novak of NSA Media, who was on a
conference panel, praised the “swift and smooth” execution of the zip2save.com launch
plan and added that its debut is proof positive that “the folks in the conference
hall can lead us to the next step.”
Don’t miss the boat on this important opportunity — the sooner you get in on this
play, the better for your company. Contact Tanya Henderson for more details, at
Now is the time
New media ventures are emerging fast and furious from all corners of the earth and
most crave exactly what community media has already — brand awareness, trust, connection,
the ability to promote new initiatives, brainpower, and feet on the street.
Among several sessions that focused on emerging digital strategies, Gordon Borrell
hit a home run with his session on helping Main Street businesses go interactive.
In his keynote slot on the final day of the conference he counseled the audience
to use their assets to help local businesses go interactive. The special report
he presented, developed specifically for the SNA conference, examined the local
online ad spend and no surprise, the medium is growing quickly among local businesses.
Whitney Mathews from LJWorld tweeted and posted video from the SNA fall conference
in Kansas City. Watch
her conference interview
with Chris Krug, Shaw Suburban Media.
He told the audience that they are in the perfect place at the perfect time to guide
their local retailers and service providers into the interactive advertising world
and said all should “Get on the offensive now and go after yellow pages, direct
mail and cable advertisers. This wonderful growth medium if sitting right in front
of you,” said Borrell who chastised the audience to “stop doing it on the cheap.
According to SNA member Jennifer Parker, publisher of CrossRoadsNews (GA) “Gordon
Borrell nailed it for me about the importance of following the money and listening
to our customers, and the imperative that media companies see the internet as a
business that exceeds our content. For me, the conference boils down to his “Flip”
suggestions: Flip the Sales Pitch. Flip the Content strategy. It’s about them —
our advertisers. I get it.”
Many Resources Available
Most of the presenters from the fall conference are
sharing their presentations and these are found on the SNA website. Click
through to review and watch for subsequent coverage that will probe more deeply
into the many topics covered in Kansas City.