A Mega-Conference program that confronts challenges both internal and external


The program for the 2019 Key Executives Mega-Conference could be summed up as an all-encompassing SWOT test administered by some of the best of the industry’s leaders.

Over its three days, the Mega-Conference program will not just touch on, but take a deep dive into the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats newspapers face in this era.

Just to take the T in SWOT as an example, the agenda includes a session that names names when examining just who is now out there trying to steal advertising from the local SMBs newspapers regard as reliable advertising customers.

“Do You Know Who Else is Selling Services to Your SMBs?” will explain that the threat to newspapers now goes beyond the digital pureplays pitching their SEO capabilities.

From the session description: “Software as a Service (SaaS)-based cloud services have introduced a plethora of new capabilities to small businesses related to HR, payments, accounting, payroll, marketing, customer relationship management (CRM) and much more. As these technologies become more affordable, small businesses are taking advantage. And when they do, these technology companies may just be squeezing your sales team out. Don’t be left in the cold. Know who’s out there. Learn what they are selling to your advertising clients.”

At the same time, Mega-Conference sessions also underscore the S in SWOT that newspapers retain—and that can be strengthened even more with the very technology represented by the T.

A session on applying predictive analytics to digital subscription management, for example, will explain the lifecycle of a digital customer from first-time visitor to loyal paid subscriber. Attendees will hear real-life success stories and best practices that can apply to print as well as digital audiences. And they’ll learn about using propensity scoring, segmentation, personalization and churn prevention tactics to increase their ever more important audience revenue.

As with the Mega-Conference agenda generally, this analytics session will be led by a very strong lineup of experts. Matthew Lulay, senior director of consulting services for Mather Economics LLC, leads the discussion on churn. The panel discussing a digital customer’s lifecycle includes Arvid Tchivzhel, Mather’s director of products and data science; Brian Howell, director of consumer revenue for the San Diego Tribune; and Jim Gorman, director of circulation sales/audience for the Philadelphia Media Network; Pam Siddall, COO of enterprises services for Advance Local; Kevin Denny, vice president and general manager of Advance Central Services Southeast; and Patrick Tornabene, vice president of audience development and analytics for Newsday.

The possibilities opened up by analytics are further explored in the session “Leveraging Big Data with Subscriber Marketing and Revenue Diversification” that looks at the many ways customer data can used not just to help acquire and keep digital subscribers, but also to promote events, deliver targeted online and legacy media solutions to advertisers, launch and support e-commerce initiatives—even extending the reach of print.

Along with Big Data, the Mega-Conference program makes room for Big Ideas, such as the “Betting the Future on Newsroom Transformation,” which takes a look at how newsrooms can take a role in audience growth and revenue. This session will feature editors whose newsrooms are participating in the Knight-Lenfest News Initiative, better known as the Table Stakes project.

Lenfest Institute Director of Operations Ken Herts will moderate the discussion of how newsrooms can expand beyond reporting and editing into helping grow subscriptions, enhance their brands and make more money. Telling the stories of their newsrooms will be Amy Maestas, executive editor of the Durango (Colorado) Herald, and George Stanley, editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Follow their road to sustainability in this session.

Sustaining audience trust will be the focus of “Trust in News, and the Fight Against Misinformation” session that looks at what’s being done to counter the “fake news” charges, what’s working to keep trust—and what’s at stake in this fight.

New technology—whether utilized in the B2C or B2B space—is a particular focus of the 2019 Mega-Conference. In the session “How Local Consumers Discover Local Businesses: A Conversation with Yext,” executives from the Digital Knowledge Management (DKM) platform providers lead a conversation on how voice, mobile and artificial intelligence are changing the way potential customers discover local businesses. This opens opportunities for newspapers to guide local advertisers in controlling their brand experience across this expanding digital universe.

And in the everything-old-is-new-again category, there is a session devoted to podcasting, a decade-old platform that has suddenly caught fire with audiences and advertisers. The Interactive Advertising Bureau reports that podcast ad revenue nearly doubled since 2015 to reach $314 million last year—and is expected to double again by 2020.

The Key Executives Mega-Conference, now in its ninth year, has always been programmed to provide new, useful and actionable information to newspapers and media organizations of any size. That’s why the 2019 edition will feature sessions on turning around print, creating print niche revenue-makers such as high-end glossy magazines and the factors to consider when changing frequency, a session that will feature case studies from markets big and small.

A bonus session for those who come early to the Mega-Conference Monday morning Feb. 25 will be focused exclusively on sales.

“10 Habits of Highly Effective Sales Professionals” bills itself as a session all about sales lead generation. “Pump up your inbound sales leads by 25% to 35% in the next 30 days!” the session description says. This workshop will also include preparation of an individual action plan to use what’s learned and put into practice with the sales team back home.

The second bonus session, “Is Culture Killing Your Sales Mojo?” promises “a round-table deep dive to share candid concerns and solutions for addressing sales culture.”

More programming information and links to registration for the 2019 Key Executives Mega-Conference is available at