Daily Report: SNA Foundation’s North American Innovation Mission

SNA President Nancy Lane will provide daily reports from the road while traveling with the Innovation Mission. Eighteen community media executives are taking part in this week-long study to visit with some of the most innovative media houses in North America. The group is focusing on new business models and emerging content strategies.

Wednesday Morning Report: Digital First Revenue Strategies

Adam Burnham, Vice President of Local Sales for Journal Register Company, presents to attendees at the Innovation Mission.

The nearly three hour bus ride was worth it for Innovation Mission attendees to see the nation’s first open community newsroom in Torrington, Connecticut.

The group met with Journal Register Company (JRC) executives for five hours to learn about the open newsroom (to be covered in a related article to be released this afternoon) and revenue success stories in this digital-first company.

Adam Burnham, Vice President of Local Sales for Journal Register Company, shared company strategies, success stories and lessons learned.

JRC employs 600 sales reps (350 are outside, online and/or management). Digital-first means selling total audience and leading with the digital audience (much larger than print audience). It also means that the focus is on direct sales and not those that require a print component with an allocation to online. This year, they will increase digital to 16% of total revenue and 7% of total profit. The goal is to get to 50% of total profit by 2015 and they are well on their way.

Attendees met for five hours in Torrington, CT, with senior Journal Register Company executives.

Keys to digital revenue growth at JRC:

  • They hired an online sales manager at every property (22 in total).
  • Online sales managers make four-legged sales calls and direct sales on their own.
  • Research is essential to the sales process (they use Kantar – shows local spend by advertiser) as well as Scarborough and Claritas.
  • Compensation models have been changed to put a higher emphasis on digital sales.
  • No plans for pay walls – want to remain open
  • Partnerships are very important; key ones include: Yahoo, Monster, Jivox, Matchbin (for deals and directories), legacy.com, thestreet.com, Syndicaster (edit videos in the cloud), After College, Centro (Lift program) and more.
  • They are in the process of creating a digital-only sales team of 15. This group will sell new digital products. They will not work with the local reps.
  • JRC’s large weekly groups are doing particularly well online with an average of 20% digital revenue.

Burnham will be presenting some of this in more detail at the upcoming SNA/The Blinder Group Revenue Leadership Summit, May 18-20, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. The Summit is only $495 for SNA Members, and $595 for non-members. To register, click here. For more information, click here.

Next up: JRC’s Open Community Newsroom in Torrington, CT