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A game plan for your teams at the Mega-Conference


Lured by strong programming proven over its nine years—and a registration discount for multiple attendees from the same newspaper—more news organizations are sending teams to the Key Executives Mega-Conference.

The 2019 Mega-Conference does indeed offer not just something for every department leader, but so many sessions promising valuable learnings that a guide to the program might be as important as a floor plan of the Paris Las Vegas meeting venue.

Here, then, are suggestions of don’t-miss sessions made according to the responsibilities of executives attending as a team:

If you’re a sales executive:

Be sure to get to the Mega-Conference early Monday for the two Morning Bonus Sessions led by Brain Swell Media founder Ryan Dohrn. His first session, 10 habits of highly effective sales professionals, promises strategies that can pump up inbound sales leads by 25% to 30%. He follows that with a workshop on sales culture. Lineup Systems executive Shawn DeWeese wraps up the sales session by explaining Seven sneaky ways your sales tech is costing you (and how to stop the bleed).

Monday afternoon’s breakout session, Do you know who else is selling services to your SMBs?, is an absolute must-attend for anyone responsible for selling digital services or advertising. Charles Laughlin, project leader of the Tech Adoption Index for the Local Search Association, will reveal who is in your market trying to squeeze your sales team out.

Hear from the biggest players in newspaper sales at Tuesday morning’s breakout session, Drive revenue with sales models that deliver, moderated by WeHaa’s national director of digital marketing and sales, Michael Martoccia. This rock star panel includes Addy Earles, director of digital revenue for Schurz Communications; Jared Merves, chief revenue officer for Belo + Company; and Michael Rosinski, the vice president of strategic sales for Hearst.

Later on Tuesday morning, sales executives will have a tough choice between two sessions devoted to generating revenue from two legacy sources that have slumped in recent years: recruitment classifieds and automotive. How Tribune Media is regaining market share and outsmarting the competition looks at publisher’s success in reviving recruitment, told by Tribune’s vice president of classified advertising, Gladys Arroyo, and Recruitology CEO Roberto Angulo. At the same time, two WeHaa executives, President Cesar Montes and Vice President of Sales Kevin Collins, talk with Seattle Times Director of National Sales Tom Parker about automotive in a session entitled Winning back auto revenue the easy way using promotions and events.

If you’re a publisher or general manager:

Every general session at this year’s Mega-Conference offers something valuable to publishers and general managers, starting with the keynote address from Philadelphia Media Network Publisher and CEO Terrance C.Z. Egger. He will talk about the transformation of The Philadelphia Inquirer as a Public Benefit Corporation.

On Tuesday, the conference opens with another general session that will interest newspaper leaders. News Media Alliance President and CEO David Chavern moderates a discussion of Leaders in transformation with Rob Barrett, president of digital media for Hearst Newspapers; Jeff Elgie, the CEO of Village Media Inc.; and Alan Fisco, president and CFO of The Seattle Times.

Among the many breakout sessions during the Mega-Conference, publishers should have a particular interest in How local consumers discover local businesses: A conversation with Yext, scheduled for Monday afternoon. The brand management company’s senior director/strategic partnerships, Brooke Henderson, will explore how voice, AI and mobile technologies have changed how consumers find businesses—and what your advertisers need to know from you how to navigate this new environment.

Mega-Conference will be full of success stories, and one publishers should not miss is the final general session, How technology can transform your customer experience. Washington Post Chief Technology Officer Scot Gillespie will detail the role technology played as the paper focused on customer needs and engagement, becoming one of the most read newspaper brands in the world.

If you lead a newsroom:

This Mega-Conference offers more sessions that will interest editors and other newsroom executives than any previous conference. Two the bonus sessions early Monday morning will benefit editors just as much as audience development or circulation executives.

Tony Ort, whose job title at TCN is developer/protector of media relationships, leads the Customer experience, retention and insight session, relating how Lee Enterprises put customer engagement at the center of its growth strategy. He is followed by Tim Turner, content program manager for TownNews, speaking on How content engagement and dynamic user experience can drastically grow consumer revenue.

The newsroom’s role in growing revenue and subscribers will be the focus of Betting the future on newsroom transformation, the final general session of Monday, Feb. 25. Ken Herts, direction operations for Lenfest Institute, will discuss the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative, or “Table Stakes” project, with editors Amy Maestas of The Durango (Colorado) Herald and George Stanley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who is also regional editor of USA Today Network.

Tuesday afternoon’s breakout sessions include two focused on the newsroom as a revenue center. Changing the newsroom culture to maximize reader revenue will look at the structural, technological and cultural changes needed to turn readers into subscribers or members. The panel led by Damon Kiesow, the Knight Chair in Digital Editing and Production at the Missouri School of Journalism, includes Simon Galperin, business development leader at GroundSource; Celeste LeCompte, vice president of business development at ProPublica; and Amanda Wilkins, product manager for The McClatchy Company.

Niche audience monetization: Successful magazine models deconstructed focuses on the revenue potential of new editorial products. Charity Huff, managing partner at Maroon Ventures, moderates the panel discussion by Matt Coen, co-owner of St. Louis Magazine; Chris Edwards, former president of Gazette Communications; and Dave Sanchez of Publication Printers.

And editors will surely want to attend the Tuesday afternoon breakout session that’s all about their core mission. Trust in news—and the fight against misinformation will be presented by Sally Lehrman, founder and CEO of The Trust Project.

If you’re a circulation or audience development executive:

This Mega-Conference will keep you busy—and right from the start. Audience and Subscriber Management, Option 2 of the Morning Bonus Sessions Monday the 25th are described above as being as much for newsroom executives as for those with audience development responsibilities.

The newspaper data gurus at Mather Economics LLC will lead a panel discussion at a Monday afternoon breakout session on How publisher apply predictive analytics to manage the customer lifecycle. Matthew Lula, senior director of consulting for Mather leads a panel consisting of Jim Gorman, vice president of circulation for The Philadelphia Inquirer and Curtis Huber, director of circulation and audience revenue for The Seattle Times.

Data is also at the center of another breakout session audience development executives should be sure not to miss on Monday afternoon: Leveraging a customer data platform to drive subscriber growth and diversify revenue features case studies of how GateHouse Media and The Dallas Morning News are using data and marketing automation to grow subscribers and revenue. Tom Ratkovich, president of LEAP Media Solutions, leads the discussion with Sue Kerr, vice president of print audience for The Dallas Morning News, and Rich Forsgren, director of corporate consumer data strategy for GateHouse.