Home' Local Media Today : November 2011 Contents 14 | suburban publisHer | november 2011
With over 2,000 newspaper members rep-
resenting over 22 million circulation in North
America, SNA is a members-driven organization
that relies on an all-volunteer Board of Directors,
all of whom have high level days jobs in the
media industry, to guide the work of the associa-
tion. Their diverse backgrounds and points of
view ensure that initiatives are well debated and
fully vetted for the sole benefit of advancing the
cause for suburban and community newspapers
and their related digital offerings.
At the SNA annual business meeting, con-
ducted publicly at the recent conference in
Phoenix, five new board members were ratified
for service to the SNA Board. Joining for three
year terms were Robert Brown, President &
COO, Swift Communications (CO), Brandon
Erlacher, Publisher, The Elkhart Truth (IN), Terry
Kukle, Vice President Business Development,
Metroland Media Group Ltd. (ON), Chris Lee,
General Manager of DeseretNews.com, Deseret
Digital Media (UT), and Suzanne Schlicht, Chief
Operating Officer, The World Company (KS).
From time to time we’ll profile those who
are leading the organization and in this issue
we’re getting to know Bob Brown. All members
are urged to reach out to any member of SNA
leadership at any time –voice issues, debate
ideas, seek advice, etc.
Bob Brown, President & Chief Operating
Officer, Swift Communications, rbrown@swift-
com.com; 970-328-6333 x12121
Please tell us a little bit about yourself
and give us some insight into your
career path in the news media industry.
Native to Colorado I earned my degree
in Marketing and Finance from Colorado
State University. I worked in retail with
Carter Hawley Hale and then Payless
Cashways before starting my newspaper
career in 1987 with Swift at the Greeley
Tribune. I began my role as owner pub-
lisher in 1993 when Swift established
a new publishing division in the resort
markets of Colorado (known today as
Colorado Mountain News Media). From
1993 to 2004 we grew from 2 free dailies
to 6 dailies, 8 weeklies and a portfolio of
niche products. In 2003, the Colorado
Press Association recognized me as the
Newspaper Person of the Year. In 2005 I
became COO and in 2008 I was named
President & COO which is the position
I hold today. I am married (25 years) to
Lori Abbott-Brown and have 3 children
Britney 22, Cameron 19 and Cody 16.
When spare time is available I enjoy the
great outdoors including golf, biking, fish-
ing and hunting.
Thoughts on SNA and your aim for
involvement as a Board member?
I have been involved in many industry
organizations over the past 24 years and
SNA has impressed me with their can do
attitude and innovative efforts. My career
began with an outsider’s view and I believe
that has been a key ingredient to the suc-
cess my organization has experienced.
I am intensely customer focused and
believe our future business and its revenue
models must begin with the user first and
solve everyday problems or enhance their
experience and lives. I intend to focus my
energies in these areas and hope they can
bear fruit for others in our industry.
What do you think are the absolute essentials
for a community newspaper to be doing in
the digital arena?
Dedicated Digital Leadership – respon-
sible and accountable for organizations
digital development. Likely needs to be
someone from outside the newspaper
Start with 3-5 specific revenue tools/
models and excel at these for your
Training – Must establish resources
to train and hold the organization
accountable for growing. Teach – Show
Be bold in your goals and prepared
to invest in consumer insights and
Invest in integrated print and digital
resources to leverage the potential out
of existing operations.
Please share a current best practice from
your own company.
An area we have been focused on for the
past 2+ years is evolving our sales orga-
nization from a product oriented sales
focus to a problem solving focus. Our
initial analysis indicated a key weakness
in our organization was recruiting and
talent acquisition. Today I believe we are
nearing excellence in our sales recruiting
Our success here relates to the sales
organization development process devel-
oped from our partnership with Center
Sales Strategy and includes many layers.
In measuring the success of this effort
over the past 2 years we have found new
recruits to reach sales goals earlier (1-3
months) along with generating more rev-
enue per client by a 1.18 -1.25 margin.
SNA leadership: behind the
scenes with Bob Brown
I contribute because I love this
industry and I want to help local
media companies by providing
much needed research, informa-
tion and training on the digital side
of our business.
The SNA Foundation exists to
assist local media companies with
the digital transformation that is
underway. This means identify-
ing new and sustainable business
models, exploring new content
strategies, finding ways to further
monetize the digital side or our
business & more.
I am writing to all of our members and friends today asking you to join me
with a personal donation. ALL amounts are appreciated - no amount is too small.
I promise that we will put these funds to good use to help our industry with the
transformation that is underway.
To make a donation plesae go to www.suburban-news.org/Foundation/Donate.
Our track record speaks for itself. The SNA Foundation has a reputation for being
innovative and leading edge. Programs such as the recent Innovation Mission are
indicative of the organization’s commitment to assist the community media industry
during this time of unprecedented change. Along with SNA, both organizations strive
to provide a leadership role in the industry by suggesting solutions to problems
instead of just reporting on them or covering them at conferences.
The SNA Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) charitable trust that is funded by private
donations. All contributions will be recognized in Suburban Publisher’s January
edition (funds received after December 15 will be recognized in a later edition).
Donations are tax deductible.
contribute to the
The innovative R&D arm of SNA has developed a new mission statement
that more accurately reflects the purpose of the organization: To educate
and guide media companies through their digital transformation to better
serve local communities.
The mission statement was approved by the SNAF Board and the SNA Board
at their respective board meetings in Phoenix this past September.
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