Conference

Executive Voices 2.0 returns to Chicago with more on our mind

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After success with its first Executive Voices conference last year, Inland has slated Executive Voices 2.0: The Conversation Continues to be held in Chicago, with a reception and dinner on Tuesday evening December 4 and discussions to follow on Wednesday, December 5.

Designed exclusively for newspaper decision-makers, Executive Voices eschews the top-down, PowerPoint presentation format of traditional newspaper conferences in favor of robust discussions about the issues and opportunities of keen interest to newspaper executives.

“We didn’t know if a discussion format would work when we launched the inaugural Executive Voices last year,” said Patty Slusher, Inland’s director of membership and programming. “We promised the conference would be ‘different’ from ordinary newspaper gatherings—and it was. Post-conference evaluations found an incredible 94% of attendees liked the format so much they wanted to return to the conference if we held it again.”

Topics for discussion at Executive Voices are determined by newspaper executives themselves. Facilitators lead the discussions among conference attendees from that agenda. Always lively, the discussions at the first Executive Voices sometimes became intense. That meant attendees heard a broad spectrum of viewpoints from a diverse group of newspaper thought-leaders.

“It allowed us to have an in-depth conversation around best practices and to share ideas in a more intimate setting,” said P.J. Browning, president of Evening Post Industries Newspaper Division and publisher of The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. She was one of the discussion leaders at the event.  “Conferences are great, but being able to sit with a peer group and really talk about topics that we’re all facing and be able to gather the collective wisdom of the group was powerful.”

The format and approach will mirror last year’s event, according to Slusher. However, there will be enhancements this year based on the suggestions from previous attendees. For example, there may be some smaller break out groups for topics of intense interest and/or longer discussions.

“There was good energy in the room” said Doug Phares, president and COO of Sandusky Newspapers Inc., another discussion facilitator for last year’s event. “It felt like people were interested in what others had to say. And there were enough people to offer concrete examples of their experience.”

Although conference attendance is limited to just 75 newspaper executives and owners, an extra emphasis is placed on diversity for Executive Voices. Newspaper executives from all newspaper and market sizes are encouraged to attend.

“Last year we had a great representation of female executives and newspapers large and small,” Slusher observed. “This year we are making a special effort to reach out to African American, Hispanic and other ethnic newspapers. They can bring a different point of view to the discussions, and may have unique solutions or revenue generating ideas. Every newspaper’s experience is important and every newspaper executive who can add to the discussion is welcome.”

Held at the downtown Chicago offices of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Executive Voices 2.0 will kick off with a reception and dinner the night before the event. This social gathering provides a relaxed atmosphere where old friends can catch up with one another and new friendships are formed before the discussion begins.

“We promised that Executive Voices would be different,” Slusher added. “Remarkable things happened there last year. Now we are really excited to see how this conference evolves as the conversation continues.”

For more information on Executive Voices 2.0, contact Patty Slusher at pslusher@inlandpress.org or 847-795-0380.