131st Annual Meeting

The big takeaway

Posted

Printed out, the Inland Key Takeaways distributed to all 131st Annual Meeting attendees—produced for every session from NextTech on Sunday, Oct. 23 to the Local Sales Solutions Workshop on Tuesday the 25th—take up 31 pages.

Taken together, the Takeaways can be summed up in a single word: Success. 

An Annual Meeting that was billed as being all about success stories exceeded expectations according to the enthusiastic comments attendees wrote in evaluation sheets. 

“The 131st Inland Press annual conference’s energetic agenda still resonates with me,” said Carole Stein, principal at the subscriber and member acquisition and retention consultancy Stein & Associates. “From the innovative and practical presentations, to the moving recognition awards, to the new relationships that I made, I found the conference extremely valuable for its insights and realism.”

Particularly notable were the many success stories told at the Annual Meeting that revolved around generating revenue from non-traditional sources.

Brad Boggs, senior director of Informed Interactive, and Erik Reynolds, sales manager for Content That Works—two operations owned by The Post and Courier publisher Evening Post Industries of Charleston, S.C.—related how the newspaper is on track to generate $300,000 in revenue from its native advertising and sponsored content program. 

These native advertising packages—priced at $1,500 for a two-week run that includes an exclusive article of 300 to 500 words, social media postings and high-resolution images to accompany the article—are attracting business from accounts that never advertise in the print newspaper, such as school districts, park districts, law firms and construction contractors. 

Taking a page from the Netflix model, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other Cox Media Group newspapers are allowing subscribers to add four people to their digital accounts for free. Just since last December, 20,000 subscribers shared these accounts. Most of the approximately 10,000 who accepted those invitations are still engaged with AJC content. 

At the NextTech Startup Showcase, Guy Tasaka, chief digital officer for Calkins Digital, recounted how Calkins aggressive push into Over-The-Top (OTT) digital video platforms is capturing the “newspaper never” and “TV never” millennial audience. 

Calkins had another success story to share at the Annual Meeting: its foray into real estate sales. As Bob Pinarski, publisher of the Herald Standard in Uniontown, Pa., explained it, the newspaper by 2012 had virtually no real estate advertising linage. The best way to grow real estate, he reasoned, was to launch its own brokerage. 

Not surprisingly, the reaction of other area brokers was to pull what little advertising they did with the Herald Standard. Pinarski had a quick rejoinder for one boycotter: “You know something, you spend $2,000 with me. I sell one house—and I’ve made that up.” 

The boycott lasted just 90 days, and in fact brokers who once spent just $2,000 to $3,000 annually are now spending upwards of $35,000, Pinarski told the Annual Meeting. 

Success stories told at the Annual Meeting were not confined to the United States. Ben Shaw, the director of global advisory for WAN-Ifra, reported on success in paid content and digital-first publishing at four European publishers—including one that created an app that rewarded activity with a virtual currency of diamonds, which can be used to purchase perfume, dresses, even subscriptions to its print publication. The Austrian company Styria has found that its audience will pay full price for a subscription if they’re rewarded with additional diamonds, Shaw said.