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Q&a cont’d from pg 2
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This may be premature to fully
discuss but I’ve heard that you are
exploring partnership and collaboration
with a local pureplay website in your
market. Are you able to share details
As we’re speaking, we’re prob-
ably two days away from the final
contracts being signed. So I can give
you a general overview. We’ll disclose
full details at the upcoming LMA Local
Revenue Summit in May in Tampa. The
idea behind this partnership came from
the Innovation Mission where I learned
that community contributor networks
add value to your current content.
One of the items on our to-do list was
to create one of these community con-
tributor networks, but no one on staff,
including myself, seemed to have the
time to take on the effort.
A local pureplay in our market was
already dominating in this arena, so I
thought, “Why reinvent the wheel?” It
turns out that we have strengths in differ-
ent arenas. For example, we excel at sales
and design and have the AR infrastructure.
The local pureplay, on the other hand,
delivers content to a wide demographic
that we lack, so our partnership will be a
win-win for both. By partnering we can
generate more eyeballs for our customers
and more content for our readers and the
pureplay will benefit likewise.
This idea is just another example of
what I learned at the Innovation Mission:
Keep your eyes and mind open for oppor-
tunities to enhance your brand and mis-
sion and to generate more revenue so you
can continue to produce the sound edito-
rial content your readers demand.
What are some of the other multime-
dia initiatives that you’ve launched,
are pursuing or considering?
There are so many more multime-
dia initiatives in the pot. I just wish
we had the money and manpower
to do them all. But we’ve learned as a
small company it really takes a lot of
time to get at least one of them boiling.
So, that being said, really the first thing
we need to take care of is having more
control of our online content. We created
our site with a fabulous local developer
that created a custom CMS for us when
we built YourObserver.com.
But we’ve realized that we’ve quickly
approached the fast lane and need an
editorial and online workflow that works
seamlessly. That’s why we’ve recently signed
on with Saxotech to streamline both our
editorial and online workflow creating a
one-touch publishing system that will not
only publish to print and online, but also
to mobile and an iPad app.
Let’s shift gears and talk about
advertising sales. Specifically, what
is your approach – do your reps sell all
media or do you have digital only reps?
Any special insights or keys that you
have found particularly successful?
Currently all of our reps sell all
media. We explained to our reps
a couple of years ago, using a Borrell
research study, that online advertising
dollars were going to surpass print not
only in their lifetime, but in the next
few years. So if they wanted to continue
to be in this business, they needed to
learn multimedia sales. Here’s what
Last year one of our best print reps,
who can sell more than $30,000 in print
advertising each week, went from selling
$0 in online revenue to beating her online
goal this year 120%. That to me says:
Everyone should sell everything.
However, we’ve come to the tipping
point. After creating more and more mul-
timedia products — mobile, video and
multimedia packages — we’ve realized
that we need digital-only sales people.
Our legacy reps are overloaded with new
products and special sections, and we
need a champion of digital. So by late
spring, we expect to have at least two
people manning digital-only sales.
Finally, let’s focus on driving new
revenue in any of your media –
print, online, mobile. Can you share
some of the initiatives that your com-
pany is working on to drive and sustain
gains in 2012 and beyond? Anything
working especially well?
To be honest, our print products
still derive the most revenue for us
out of all of our products. But what we
drive our biggest revenue from is our
special sections. We currently have a
quarterly arts and entertainment glossy
magazine that does really well for us,
and we’re contemplating making it a
monthly magazine during our season
here, which is October through May.
Personally, I’m really excited about it,
because during a sales training session
a group of our reps thought it would be
really cool to create a mobile app to
go along with it. To have our sales reps
thinking mobile is an achievement in
itself. Two years ago, when we intro-
duced banner ads online you would have
thought we were trying to get them to
sell something from outer space.
The Observer Group has come a long
way, and our entire company with it.
I’m proud of how far we’ve come ...
and beware of our iPad app. It’s going
to be awesome. And, yes, we’re going
to charge for that.
Emily Walsh, left, is shown here at a stop on the 2011 North American
Innovation Mission - a trip that had a huge impact on her and spurred several
local initiatives at The Observer. The 2012 West Coast Innovation Mission is
now open for limited registration - see related story on page 1 for more
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