Home' Local Media Today : October 2012 Contents 2 | LOCAL MEDIA TODAY | October 2012
Tell me about your employment
background please – how you
got into the business, route to current
position, that sort of thing.
I started in the business really on a
fluke. I had moved to a new com-
munity and found I was expecting a child.
I was only looking for a job, something
to get me out of the house, meet new
people, etc. I answered a classified ad for
a receptionist at a “start up” Shopper. The
ad stated they were looking for someone
to answer phones and wait on customers.
I thought this would be a good temporary
job while I was expecting a baby with
no plans to return. I was upfront with
them and informed them of my plans
but they hired me anyway.
Within two months, two different
managers had failed, salespeople
didn’t last and I found myself trying
to keep the place running. The next
thing I knew I was selling, designing,
delivering the product AND answering
phones. Multi-tasking and working
through chaos became my specialty.
After the birth of my son I was home
with him awhile when I realized I had
enjoyed the crazy job and missed all
the excitement that came with putting
out a weekly shopper. Management
really wanted me to come back and
after some consideration, I did and
never looked back. A year later a move
brought me to DeKalb and the oppor-
tunity to work for the Daily Chronicle
where my career in the daily newspaper
business really began.
After six-years in sales at the Daily
Chronicle I was named Sales Manager
and held that position for five years. I
moved to southern Indiana and became
Sales Manager for the Vincennes Sun-
Commercial in Vincennes, Indiana and
was named Advertising & Marketing
Director shortly after. Seven years later
a move back to the Midwest brought me
to Shaw Media where I’ve held several
positions at different Shaw locations from
Advertising Sales Manager, Corporate
Sales Director, General Manager and
currently Advertising and Marketing
Director. Ironically where I started my
career with a daily newspaper is where
I am today, back in DeKalb, IL 28 years
Please give me a sense of your
leadership style and the key
ingredients that you think work in
My style is definitely that of a
continuously strive to invest time in
understanding my team members. What
challenges they are facing both profes-
sionally and personally? What motivates
them, what gives them satisfaction in
their life and job? I want to know how I
can help them achieve their goals and
succeed in work and in life.
My team and I have a mutual respect
for one another and that is a recipe for
What are some of the things that you like most about
operating in your position? Feel free to share any
amusing anecdotes from your career – any experience
that perhaps solidified in your mind that you found the
right career slot for yourself.
The autonomy to run my department! While we as
a company have standard policies and procedures I
have the ability to frame my own department. My publisher
trusts my decisions and has confidence in my abilities to
ensure that the company’s best interests are being met at
I think in this business, the old adage “I have ink in my
blood” still stands. When you can’t imagine doing anything
else, you know you’ve made the right career decision.
I understand you’ve reversed declining revenue and
are now producing increases in both print and digital.
The secrets to your success please? How do you incubate
new ideas? Practice innovation, especially considering
the dizzying speed of technological change?
Here’s my philosophy on this...when times were
good, let’s face it; we had it pretty easy in the sales
arena. What we as an industry failed to do was plan for
a catastrophic event or economic downturn. As things
got bad we could always say, ”it’s bad out there, nobody’s
spending any money” or “it’s the economy”. Year over year
revenue continued declining and nothing was really being
done to address a way to stop it or even slow it down. I
believe one of our industry’s biggest failures was forget-
ting the little guy, the mom and pops that really were the
mainstay of our business long before the big box world
took over. We were relying on the big spenders and had
priced the little guy out. And then we stared losing the big
dollars, but our main focus was still to find big dollars to
replace them. Unfortunately the big dollars just were not
in abundance. This was not just indicative of DeKalb it was
everywhere. We as leaders did not have our sales teams
prepared and took too long to react to what was happening
around us. A new sales culture was needed turn around
In DeKalb we went back to Advertising 101. We needed
to grow active accounts, in doing that we had to go back
to the mom and pop’s that had stopped advertising for
whatever reason, did a needs analysis to find out how and
which of our products could help them, determine how
much money they could afford and put together a plan just
for them. This takes time and sometimes does not bring
in a lot of money, but when all territories are doing this,
those small dollars can start adding up. In today’s sales
environment it sometimes takes ten advertisers to make
up what we lost from just one.
Next we needed to become a little more innovative with
our sales strategy, the market was slow to grasp onto the
digital opportunities and while the staff understood the
constant change in the digital environment the struggle was
getting our advertisers to try it. Our success in digital growth
was a collaborative partnership with the Blinder Group; I feel
very strongly that the educational sales approach worked
well in our market to give our digital offering’s credibility
and my team and I greatly appreciate that our company
was willing to invest in the expense to bring them in.
The overall effect has been positive on the revenue side
for both the company and the salespeople. The team
recognizes the importance of continually cultivating new
customers as well as new ideas and solutions. I frequently
put the onus on the team to generate a new product or idea
based on their customers/territories needs.
Keeping up on today’s changing technology is challeng-
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lMA OfficERS & DiREctORS
Chairman of the Board / SNI Vice-Chairman /
Gareth Charter | Holden Landmark Corporation
First Vice Chair / SNI Treasurer
Gloria Fletcher | Sound Publishing, Inc.
Second Vice Chairman
Clifford Richner | Richner Communication, Inc.
Gordon Borrell | Borrell Associates
Suzanne Schlicht | The World Company
Immediate Past LMA Chairman/
Current SNI Chairman
Jon K. Rust | Rust Communications
Roy Biondi | This Week Community Newspapers
Henry Bird | Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.
Robert Brown | Swift Communications
Matt Coen | Second Street, Inc.
Brandon Erlacher | The Elkhart Truth
Terry Kukle | Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Chris Lee | Deseret Digital Media
Jennifer Parker | CrossRoadsNews, Inc.
Mark Poss | Red Wing Publishing
Kim Wilson | The South Bend Tribune
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Q & A with...
Pletsch, Page 12
in DeKalb, IL
Karen Pletsch, Advertising & Marketing Director for Shaw Media in DeKalb, IL was
recently chosen as LMA’s Advertising Director of the Year. There are several hallmarks
to her leadership and accomplishments that led to this honor but most notably is her
ability to rack up revenue gains in 2011 and so far in 2012. Local Media Today edi-
tor Deb Shaw caught up with Karen to get a sense of her management style and the
secrets to her success.
Contact Karen at 815-756-4841 ext. 217 • email@example.com
Growing revenue the
old fashioned way
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