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Editor’s Note: Mark Poss is a veteran
of the LMA Innovation Missions and 2015
marked his fifth study tour.
he LMA Innovation Missions
have given us the insight to
transform our small community
newspaper company into a thriving local
media company. It’s been a long process,
it’s taken hard work, and it’s a journey
without a destination. We are on our way.
The first Innovation Mission was
overwhelming. It is a ‘behind the velvet
rope’ adventure that exposes you to new
ways of thinking about business, audi-
ence, monetization and growth. You meet
millennials in leadership positions who
speak a different language that are riding
the waves of change effortlessly. You see a
level of affluence unheard of in community
newspapers. It is humbling. And it is too
easy to say we can never be like them. But
you can if you focus on the right things.
Over time you realize that it is the
culture that enables these companies to be
agile, to pivot quickly and monetize in new
Digging deeper you see that the ever-
present ping pong tables are mere symbols
of the culture they have created. The nap
rooms (seriously), endless supplies of
M&Ms and bike racks don’t drive results.
It is the people and their shared vision of
their company’s future.
As managers of local media companies,
most of us have a picture in mind when we
think about what our companies should
look like in five years. The problem is that
not everyone sees the same future. If we
are going to transform our businesses, we
must clearly paint that picture for everyone
in our organization and align our goals and
activities towards that vision.
The innovative companies know this.
Everyone in the organization sees the same
future. They share common values. The
top line financials and the decision making
processes are transparent. They measure
everything. And they constantly com-
municate this information throughout the
organization. One executive stated “you
are never done working on culture.”
I chalk up many of our false starts and
inconsistent results to our lack of a com-
mon vision. It was apparent that if we were
to truly transform we needed to do more
than add digital products to the portfolio.
We needed to shepherd all of our energy in
the same direction.
What We Did
So our leadership team went to work
on a plan to transform our business to
operate like a new media company.
■ We clarified our vision and laid out a
financial plan for the next three years.
■ We spelled out our core values and tied
them to our best practices.
■ We realigned our management team
based on functions rather than geogra-
■ And we commit-
ted to operating
against 90 day
It was exhaust-
ing and it was just
aged all of this
and got in front
of our entire
team over a
2 day period.
Unlike the I.M.
where we trav-
eled by planes
and taxis, our
team made the
tour in a motor
round of all
ings was in
April and we
will hold these
forums in person every 90 days. Now that
we’ve laid out the vision, the meetings
will focus more on the results of the past
90 days and lay out the goals for the next
90. We believe that by setting the course,
being open, honest and accountable, we
will get quicker traction and better results
in our transformation.
150 Year Old Start-Up
Although our company is 150 years
old, we are starting to look and act like
a new company. We’ve modified our
Mission and communicated it to all like
Mashable. We have our values posted and
live them like Yext. We’ve committed to
all hands meetings like Google. We re-set
our goals every 90 days like Yahoo. We talk
in terms of what we can get done by 5 like
McClatchy. We even have a new suburban
office that looks like Facebook. (Foosball
table not included).
Get on the bus. Paint your view of the
future and transformation will take root.
Director on the LMA Board
Our Path to
Planes, taxis and a motorhome:
Mark Poss, far right, alongside fellow students at their
stop at Yelp during the 2015 Innovation Mission.
Letting everyone see what
Yext values, also from the 2015 I.M.
We committed to
operating against 90 day
objectives rather than
n partnership with LMA, De-
seret Digital Media is opening
the doors in Salt Lake City on
August 25-26 to conduct an-
other round of the acclaimed DDM Boot
Camp. This intensive two-day training is
intended for senior-level managers and
executives who truly want to transform
their media company
Based on DDM’s highly praised busi-
ness techniques and progressive culture,
participants will learn of the immediate
opportunities and proven disciplines for
digital growth that can be transported
back to local markets. Best practices in a
disciplined environment will be taught
and discussed in depth.
Some of the covered topics:
■ How to build a profitable native busi-
■ How to use the principles of dual
transformation to grow your core and
■ How to optimize programmatic buying
in your market
■ How to grow successful e-commerce
■ Audience engagement, social media,
video, and analytics
■ Building and managing a vibrant
contributor network & much more
Participants will be trained first-hand
by some of the leading digital media
thinkers and operators. DDM has grown
their audience of unique visitors from 4
million to 25 million, almost 500 million
page views, and 100 million Facebook
followers, all in four years.
And the learning doesn’t stop at the
conclusion of the BootCamp. DDM will
conduct periodic follow-ups with mea-
surement and quarterly index tracking
to ensure that progress with the learned
techniques is on track.
Don’t hesitate – you’ll be glad
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“If you think you know it
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– Attendee comments after
experiencing the DDM BootCamp
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