Camaraderie. Camaraderie would be my first word of choice to sum up the Key Executives Mega Conference this past week in San Antonio. The feeling in the air was electric and the conversations between sessions revolved around new technologies, growth of audience, sharing with digital and, most importantly, working collaboratively. The discussions were not just about who had the best product, but rather, who had the best product and how they wanted to share their journey.
It's always a risk when trying something new, but many times the best outcomes are because of these risks. Some of the best insights come from your colleagues in the same industry and what better place to share your experience? Mega Conference 2012 in San Antonio, Texas.
Buzz words and phrases like mobile, retention, disruption, positioning for growth, becoming the local agency, and modernizing the newspaper world all have deep meaning for us at Affinity Express. I attended the conference with David Grant, executive vice president, and Kristin Meidell, vice president of operations for Affinity Express. Our discussions in our booth were not along the lines of traditional sales pitches, but rather conversations that elicited future thought.
David Grant at our booth at the Mega Conference
Our job at Affinity Express is to be a facilitator and an enabler. We help newspapers by making it easier to do what they are good at. And what is that, you may ask? Well, listen up people: newspapers aren't just a print product that you buy on Sunday for the coupons. Newspapers aren't just items that sit in your driveway until someone decides to remove them. Newspapers are the pillars of a community, both online and off. If you were at this conference, you would know that newspapers are redefining the space that surrounds each and every one of us. Newspapers are in your tablet, email, cell phone, YouTube videos, text messages, local online searches, and just about everywhere else that you consume news and information.
Our job is fun when newspapers do new things! The Affinity Express business model is easy and makes sense. We support newspapers so that they can find other cool ways to meet and support their audiences.
Some of my favorite sessions at the Mega-Conference were about moving forward in a modern media world and taking on digital agency type activities. It was really cool to hear Joe Boydston, vice president of technology and new media at the McNaughton Newspaper group, talk about open source technology and how it's a great match for newspaper publishing online. But, even better was the fact that their breaking news is literally tweets from their journalists. Because it breaks on Twitter by the journalists, it's news before it even hits the news!
Also, the social media aspects that Mathile Piard, social media manager for Cox, presented to this crowd, are game changers. Questions each newspaper has to ask itself are: when posting an abridged story on your Facebook page do you keep your user within the Facebook platform, or do you direct them to your website? What then really counts as a page view?
What about the even more controversial topic of frictional sharing? This is defined as the sharing of activities that happen online using Facebook, but without the bother of the app requesting permission to share. Say, you read an article about vaccinations for children. Do you want all of your "friends" knowing you read this and when? There could be real complications with immediately sharing your activities in the online social space.
Another fun session was all about mobile, moderated by Patrick Scanlon, director of digital strategy and business development for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This was the only session that I attended that allowed audience questions to be asked via text and I thought this was so fitting.
So, what do these topics have to do with Affinity Express? Well, we were in San Antonio exhibiting. We had a chance to visit with our current clients and get a face-to-face check-in. We also were there to share with the group our work and how we are modeled to help them achieve more.
David Grant and Kristin Meidell with a visitor at our booth
Again, newspapers aren't just printing your papers; they are changing the way you interact with your community. And the role that Affinity Express plays in this game is strategic. We aren't providing a nine-course meal that has a wine paired with each course. Affinity Express provides meals that sustain you while you work on developing the menu for your next fancy dinner party. Newspapers entrust Affinity Express with the production work so that they can move the needle. We are the leading providers of advertising and marketing production that allow for newspapers to take the next steps and provide more of an agency-type service to their advertisers. Whether it's mobile, local, social, display, email, video, or a reputation to manage, Affinity Express is there to support what the industry needs in a very structured way—today and into the future.
So, camaraderie between the newspaper industry and Affinity Express is extremely important and to be involved in a Mega Conference that focuses on next steps for newspapers definitely helps contribute to our success. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and a big "shout out" goes to SNPA, Inland and LocalMedia. Because of these three associations we had a great turnout and hope all others did as well.