Three take Top Innovator Awards

In addition to bestowing awards on companies for their collective enterprise in the world of digital media, LMA’s 2017 Digital Innovation Contest also honored three individuals for their distinguished accomplishments.

Sherry Jones, StarNews Media/GateHouse Media, received the Local Media Digital News Innovator of the Year award for her remarkable work at StarNews in Wilmington, N.C., a GateHouse Media property. Executive editor Pam Sanders calls her the underpinning for their newsroom’s digital innovation and sites an incredible array of initiatives that Jones is leading.

“We all occasionally talk about ‘who would be on our digital island’. No matter whom you ask in our newsroom (and some others), the first name would be Sherry Jones,” says Sanders.

Among the innovations that give Sherry digital rock star status:

News budget: Sherry developed a digital-focused budgeting system that’s been key to getting everyone on the same page.

Tracking and sharing: Sherry began a twice-daily web report that offers insight to others on

what’s working and what isn’t.

New website: Sherry led the web team in transitioning their site to a Mario Garcia template in

July. Most people in the building commented on the seamlessness of it.

Mobile, mobile: Sherry has converted the news team to alt-format storytelling and lists. A recent top-performing ASF was “By the numbers: 8 things to know about

Wilmington’s new Publix.” It had 10,966 page views with roughly 51 percent coming from


Audience expansion: In August, StarNews began a Reporter Audience Growth program that

Incentivizes reporters to focus on growing their audience. Sherry tracks visitor and page view

numbers by reporter and reporter Facebook posts that link to content. Top performers are

honored each month.

Reaching core through digital: Sherry oversees the Cape Fear Connects project, geared toward

bringing back the old Neighbors section concept in digital form. Nowadays, the same content

that was clipped out and shared with family via snail mail is being shared via social. As this

hyper-local content gets new life, staffers are sending emails when an item is posted so the

sender can share.

Mining  The Archives: Sherry and her team implemented this program and continue to give

archived content new life.
Despite this long list of accomplishments, Jones says she doesn’t think of herself as a digital innovator. “What we’ve done to achieve success is less about the latest digital tool or multimedia enhancement but more about establishing processes for planning digital content,” she says. “I do consider our daily story budget to be quite innovative, though, because it truly focuses on digital content as a priority.”

Jon Accarrino, Executive Director of Business Development at Bonneville Salt Lake/KSL NewsRadio in Utah, took top honors as the Local Media Digital Innovator of the Year.

In this newly created role, Accarrino was tasked with creating and leading a team focused on new revenue generation and product growth for NBC KSL-TV, KSL NewsRadio, 103.5 The Arrow and FM100.3.

In nominating Jon for this award, Emily Hunt, Director of Sales, praised him as a best-in-class sales and marketing expert and as a compassionate mentor. “When he creates marketing business strategies, he brings along his team, helping them to grow into leadership roles,” said Hunt.

“We had an incredible year at Bonneville Salt Lake and this award feels like the icing on the cake,” says Accarrino. ”The chemistry between departments at Bonneville Salt Lake is something I’ve never experienced before in my career. News, programming, sales, promotions, engineering and digital all rally together to help problem solve and execute big projects.”

Some of Accarrino’s accomplishments:

-Breaking the boundaries normally associated with a traditional radio station, Jon proposed a

new ‘radio you can see’ strategy that focused on visual content for audiences. By creating sales-driven video programming and video display advertising for live studio cameras, advertisers are able to reach radio audiences in completely new ways.

-For KSL NewsRadio’s digital audio inventory, Jon’s team led the search optimization and distribution of its podcast strategy. Their efforts helped grow downloads of existing on-air programs by 291 percent. And, the podcast ad inventory management system has created close to $1.1 million in new annual revenue.

– The Nightside Project, a decade long staple on KSL radio, transitioned from a terrestrial broadcast to a digital only offering. Jon’s team coordinated sales and programming efforts and the monthly downloads have skyrocketed from 5,000 (May) to 60,000 (December), leading to new revenue via an exclusive sponsorship.
-For Bonneville Salt Lake’s music stations, Jon’s team worked closely with sales, programming and Bonneville digital to create a new interactive music-streaming concept called “Dashboards.” An industry first, it creates a fun and branded experience companion to the stations’ digital audio streams, boosts engagement with talent and gives listeners access to song lyrics, album artwork and exclusive contests.

-Capping off 2016, Jon led the project management and business development of KSL’s new

suite of TV apps. Available on Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast and Fire TV, the apps create a new

platform to deliver broadcast content from KSL-TV and KSL NewsRadio to audiences without

traditional cable, satellite of broadcast TV access. The suite of apps launched late 2016

with over 400 pieces of content and live video streams, has increased audience access to content and opened new revenue opportunities.

John Peterson, account executive at Sinclair Broadcasting Group, was runner up as the Local Media Digital Innovator of the Year.

General Sales Manager Pam Simpson praised John as a truly innovative media specialist and an early adaptor to the assets and analytics the digital space offers to their clients. He is the first specialist within Sinclair to optimize the collateral assets and among his recent accomplishments; John closed a $2.5 million 2-year deal with a local Personal Injury Firm.

“Without a doubt, John continues to strive for excellence in offerings of service and results,” said Simpson.

Local Media Digital Innovation Awards Announced

More than 80 companies competed for top honors

February 2, 2017

Newspapers, TV stations, radio stations and digital news sites all competed in the Local Media Association’s first ever Digital Innovation Contest and the results are now in!

The faculty at the University of Texas at Austin/Engaging News Project judged the 14 categories and were thoroughly impressed with the quality of entries that came from more than 80 different companies. “We at the Engaging News Project were honored to judge this contest and get a first-hand look at the amazing work being done at news organizations across the country,” said Dr. Talia Stroud, director of the Engaging News Project and associate professor of communication studies at the University of Texas at Austin. “It was great to see the variety of ways in which local news outlets are engaging with their audiences, and we were particularly impressed with the overall quality and innovation that many organizations presented.”

The winners will conduct presentations at the LMA Digital Revenue Summit on May 9-10 in Chicago. They will showcase their award-winning work and share details on their strategies and implementation.

“This is a highly competitive contest that recognizes the best of local media when it comes to digital innovation,” said Nancy Lane, president of the Local Media Association. “There is no other contest like it. The bragging rights are huge for the winners.”

In total, twenty-two companies received awards. Deseret Digital Media/Bonneville Broadcast Group, GateHouse Media and Community Impact captured the most awards with four each. The McClatchy Company was next with three awards. Gray Television, Graham Media Group, Advocate Digital Media, Record Journal and Rust Communications had two awards each. Single award winners included Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Calkins Media, EO Media Group, Capitol Broadcasting Company, 2060 Digital, Shaw Media, Metroland Media, The Conway Daily Sun, The Post and Courier and People Newspapers.

For the first time ever, the best R&D partners were also recognized. Second Street won first place and took second place honors.

The contest was free for local media companies to enter. This ensured a fair competition with no financial barriers. Ten of the industry’s most progressive R&D partners sponsored the contest including Second Street, Buzzboard, Social News Desk, Guarantee Digital,, iPublish Media, Leap Media Solutions, UpScribed, CitySpark and Ppi Media.


Local Media Digital Innovation Award Winners:

Best Local Website

Under 250,000 monthly unique visitors:

1st Place – Record Journal –

2nd Place – Community Impact –

Over 250,001 monthly unique visitors:

1st Place – Deseret Digital Media –


Best New Digital Initiative

Under 750,000 monthly unique visitors:

1st Place – EO Media Group – local search engine for niche local sellers in the areas of agriculture, livestock and real estate.

2nd Place – TV – Calkins Media – spin-off site dedicated to breaking “space industry” stories with OTT interfaces for Roku, AppleTV and FireTV.

Over 750,000 monthly unique visitors:

1st Place – KGW-TV/Tegna – full live-streaming initiative for their newsroom

2nd Place – Sacramento Bee/McClatchy – 360-degree video initiative for Sonoma Raceway

Best Digital Agency

Under $5 million in annual revenue

1st Place ­­- Advocate Digital Media –

2nd Place – Digital Elements/Capitol Broadcasting Company –

Over $5 million in annual revenue

1st Place – Propel Marketing/GateHouse Media –

2nd Place – 2060 Digital –

Best R&D Partner

1st Place – Second Street –

2nd Place – –

Best Native Advertising Strategy

All classes combined:

1st Place – Shaw Media –

2nd Place – Deseret Digital Media –

Best Social Media Strategy

Under 250,000 monthly unique visitors

1st Place – Community Impact –

2nd Place –  10/11 News -Gray Television –

Over 250,000 monthly unique visitors

1st Place – Graham Media Group –

2nd Place – KFYR-TV/Gray Television –

Best Native Advertising/Sponsored Content Campaign

Under 750,000 Monthly Unique Visitors

1st Place – Advocate Digital Media –

2nd Place – Southeast Missourian/Rust Communications –

Over 750,000 monthly unique visitors

1st Place – The News Tribune/McClatchy –

2nd Place – Metroland Media –

Best Mobile Strategy

All Classes Combined

1st Place – Deseret Digital Media –

Best Use of Video

All Classes Combined

1st Place: Star-Telegram/McClatchy –

2nd Place – Semoball/Rust Communications –

Best Strategy to Grow Digital Audience

All Classes Combined

1st Place – StarNews Media/GateHouse Media

2nd Place – Community Impact –

Best Contest and/or Promotion

Under 250,000 monthly unique visitors

1st Place – The Conway Daily Sun –

250,001 – 750,000 monthly unique visitors

1st Place- Northwest Florida Daily News/GateHouse Media –

Over 750,000 monthly unique visitors

1st Place – The Post and Courier –

Best Overall Local News Strategy

Under 250,000 monthly unique visitors

1st Place – Community Impact –

2nd Place – People Newspapers –

Over 250,000 Monthly Unique Visitors

1st Place – WDIV/Graham Media Group –

2nd Place – Record-Journal –

Local Media Digital News Innovator of the Year

Sherry Jones, StarNews Media/GateHouse Media (below left)

Local Media Digital Innovator of the Year

1st Place – Jon Accarino, Bonneville Broadcast Group (below center)

2nd Place – John Peterson, Sinclair Broadcast Group (below right)

For more information on each award, click here.

The Facebook Journalism Project
Program to Establish Stronger Ties Between Facebook 
and the News Industry
Facebook announced a new project today that will focus on the collaborative development of news products along with training and tools for journalists and the public.
Local news in particular will be a major focus of the Facebook Journalism Project. “Local news is the starting place for great journalism – it brings communities together around issues that are closest to home,” said Director of Product Fidji Simo, in the release, “We’re interested in exploring what we can build together with our partners to support local news and promote independent media. This initiative is in its earliest stages; we want to talk about it now so that we can get as much input from newsrooms and journalists as possible, working together to shape what local news on Facebook could look like.”
The Local Media Association has been working with the Facebook news partnership team for 6 months now to share industry concerns and work on mutually beneficial partnership terms.
The LMA board of directors had a private meeting with Jason White, head of news partnerships in the U.S., in September that resulted in the creation of an industry committee to work more closely with Jason and his team. The committee, led by Tom Sly from E.W. Scripps, includes representatives from Nexstar, McClatchy, Sinclair, Tribune, Deseret Digital, Digital First Media, GateHouse and more. The group conducted their first meeting in December with the Facebook news partnership team in New York City. It was a very productive meeting with a lot of positive outcomes.
“We are excited about the creation of the Facebook Journalism Project,” said Local Media Association President Nancy Lane. “Our committee is eager to work on collaborative news products with the team at Facebook. We especially like the focus on local news. This work is important to the mission at LMA and will be a top priority for our organization going forward.”

LMA Chairman of the Board Gordon Borrell added, “Local newspapers, TV, and radio have much to offer in terms of content and marketing, and they’re deeply interwoven in their communities.  It’s heartening to see a relationship between Facebook and local media companies being cultivated. It strengthens both parties.


To read the full announcement from Facebook, go to:

The Yellow Pages Transformation

Q&A with David Lebow
Chief Revenue Officer, YP Marketing Solutions

Conducted by Deb Shaw, Editor, Local Media Today

Tell us about your career path to date and your role at YP.

I started working in radio at a really young age and helped build two radio companies, Emmis and AMFM. AMFM ultimately sold to Clear Channel.


We had thousands of local salespeople, helping businesses grow. It helped me realize the value of that important role in local communities. Then I went to AOL. Both experiences were about getting great content in front of people and monetizing it through local advertising. Whether someone is looking for a house or trying to find a restaurant, local is all about focused activities in a specific area. My role at YP is to oversee all of our sales channels and revenue. We have multiple revenue channels and a massive sales organization locally and nationally.


The legacy Yellow Pages that we all had near our house phone has, like most local media, been wildly disrupted. Please describe what YP is today and give us some insights into YP’s evolution in the digital space.


Our mission at YP is to help connect local businesses to consumers wherever they are. The way we do that has changed in many ways and remains the same in others. Making that connection between local business and consumer is something we’ve been doing forever. Our heritage as helps us stand out in a crowded marketplace, where being known is an advantage. We’ve evolved our suite of marketing solutions, systems and technologies to meet the changing needs of local businesses and shifted the service model to manage both real-time performance and customer service issues quickly and efficiently.


Mobile and search are prime YP strengths today – tell us about your reach and digital revenue trends. How does print factor in currently and in the future?


More of our business today is digital than print, but many of our clients still use print because it drives great results by generating calls and leads, which always surprises people. Of our nearly half million customers, there are a number who use both our print and digital products. We take pride in innovation and success in both areas. We’ve been focused on evolving our portfolio of solutions – search, display, mobile and print – to help business reach consumers across all the media and devices they use.


Your sales transformation story that led to $1 billion in digital revenue is incredible. You told Innovation Conference attendees that you looked at some of the best sales organizations in the world such as Salesforce, SAP, Cisco, UPS, Northwestern Mutual and many more. Can you tell us what you learned from them?


World-class organizations stay in sync with their markets. They know what the market wants in sales and support, and they invest in meeting future needs. At YP, we applied those insights to evolve how our sales and support team operate with clients, cross functional partners and each other. We also updated our technology, tools and processes to meet with demands and to facilitate communication.


What are the core sales structure elements at YP? What’s different now vs. how YP used to sell?


We started out more than 100 years ago as a company that sold one product – in our case, a print book – and because of that, we saw selling as a simple transaction that happened once a year. Clients bought for the year, their program ran and it worked.  Today there are still many clients who buy once a year.  However, they also choose to enhance their marketing programs sporadically throughout the year around their key selling seasons. So we are in touch with our clients much more than ever, either to review results or to offer additional campaigns that help their business grow.


To stay in sync with a changing market, we have shifted our mindset, skill set and toolset. That includes a more frequent sales and service model, and piloting many best-in-class processes including territory structure, role specialization among reps and much more focus on delivering insights to our clients. Moreover, we are investing heavily in learning, development of our people and in tools and technology.


How would you characterize YP’s competition?


It’s a different competitive set than it used to be. Anyone who has a local relationship with an advertiser is technically a competitor. This might be an agency or another local sales company, like a newspaper or radio company that sells digital. There are also vertical players that cater to the home services or legal verticals. We have much more scale and capability than they do.


What do you envision as the biggest challenges and best revenue opportunities in the digital space over the next 18 months or so?


Our biggest challenge is also our biggest opportunity. Like a lot of companies that started out as traditional media companies, we’re seeing the migration of our audience and advertisers to digital. We spend a lot of time working with our clients offering them insights about the marketplace, their competitors and their customers so that they can grow their business. At the end of the day, we succeed when local businesses succeed, and we view trust in our relationships and expertise in our offerings as foundational in our partnerships with clients.


Tell us something about YP that we might not know.


One of the things that surprises people all the time is our reach. YP has nearly 60 million monthly users across and the YP app. Our research shows that this audience is 20 percent more likely to buy than the average searcher.


Finally, turn back the clock a few years and the tides of social media and mobile have yet to fully come in.  What do you think is the next digital wave to hit?


Advertising used to be about building a brand. Then it was about generating leads and results. Increasingly it’s about the intersection of commerce and advertising. So that’s a big place where the market is moving – connecting to consumers as close to their point of sale as possible. We’ve also seen a lot about the use of data to target to consumers. Yet, I think there’s much more to come to enable advertisers to deliver consumers the right message at the right time. Ultimately, that’s what everyone wants, and that’s what will deliver the best ROI for advertisers.

November 15, 2016
Tim Hunter

Ballantine Communications Partners with Wallit

–Local newspaper group introduces subscription model in partnership with Wallit– 

Milwaukee, WI, November, 15, 2016 – Ballantine Communications of Durango, CO, has recently partnered with Wallit, a complete subscription solution, to provide diverse purchasing options to readers in SW Colorado. The service has launched on The Durango Herald website,

The Durango Herald partnered with Wallit as part of a larger strategy to develop innovative digital revenue avenues and create a more direct relationship with their loyal readers. By leveraging Wallit’s flexible account model, they hope to grow their digital audience by offering purchase options beyond a monthly or annual subscription.

“We made the decision to partner with Wallit during a major upgrade of our website to improve reader experience. Wallit’s paywall and purchasing offerings align with the look and feel we achieved for the website during our development, and their team has worked hard with ours to make it happen,” reports Doug Bennet, CEO of Ballantine Communications.

Wallit is a complete subscription solution, bringing content creators and consumers together in a way that is sustainable, innovative and profitable. They partner with publishers and content creators looking to add to their current digital revenues while also uncovering new opportunities. Registered Wallit users can access their accounts across all Wallit partner sites. This one account/one-click approach simplifies and improves the user experience.

Local Media Association Hires Strategist Jed Williams as Chief Innovation Officer

Two new initiatives to be led by Williams

The Local Media Association, which has become the predominant organization for all local media companies to unite, share information and network, has announced the hiring of Jed Williams for the newly created Chief Innovation Officer position. Most recently Williams was the Vice President of Business Development and Strategy for Vendasta.

Williams brings a deep understanding of the local media space having served for 4 years as a Senior Analyst and Vice President of Strategic Consulting for BIA/Kelsey. He also brings considerable growth-stage technology and startup experience from his time as Director of Business Development for Main Street Hub, as well as his tenure at Vendasta. Williams is a Roy H. Park Graduate Fellow with a Masters of Media Business degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His insights on media disruption and transformation have been cited by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Bloomberg, FOX Business and the BBC. His work has also been published by the Columbia Journalism School and the Yale School of Management.

“Jed is a game-changing hire for us,” said LMA President Nancy Lane. “He brings a unique background to the position and we couldn’t be more excited to have him join our team. We are also announcing two new initiatives today that will go a long way in helping local media companies with their transformation plans. One is the expansion of our Innovation Mission to include three shorter regional tours in 2017. The other is the creation of the LMA Chief Digital Club, a peer network that will foster industry idea sharing and collaboration. Jed will develop and lead both of these efforts.”

The Chief Digital Club will pair groups of 12 digital-leaders together (from like-size companies with similar levels of digital sophistication) for the purpose of sharing ideas, networking and learning. Local market competitors will not be placed in the same group. NDAs will be required and the groups will meet monthly via video calls. Williams will lead and moderate these groups. There will be opportunities for the groups to meet in-person. These groups will also have access to closed door calls with executives at companies, such as Facebook, to discuss issues of importance, opportunities and concerns. The cost is only $99/month and is capped at 48 people (four groups of 12) for 2017. For more information and to apply, click here.

The first 3-day regional Innovation Mission will take place February 6-8 in Austin and Dallas with visits scheduled to Facebook’s SMB headquarters, the Dallas Morning News, Texas Tribune, Incite (a division of Emmis Communications), GateHouse News & Design Center, Tiger Pistol, OwnLocal,, and more. For more information and to register, click here. A second regional IM will take place in Silicon Valley and a third one in the Northeast. The flagship 6-day Innovation Mission takes place May 21-26 and is sold out (email to be added to the waiting list).

Williams said, “I am thrilled and humbled to join the Local Media Association, a dynamic group doing truly important work. Local media has always been my deepest passion. To have the opportunity to serve as a champion for innovation and transformation across the entire industry is a dream come true. It also carries a purpose-driven responsibility that I embrace with open arms. I’m eager to embark on new initiatives and programs that enable our members – and all local media organizations – to collaborate effectively to create a sustainable, profitable future.”

The Local Media Association is a thriving and innovative association that serves local media companies (newspapers, TV, radio, directories, pure plays, and more) as well as research and development partners in the industry. LMA assists local media companies with the digital transition via cutting-edge programs, conferences, webinars, research and training. It is intensely focused on helping local media companies discover new and sustainable business models.

mstt-chamberlinMatt Chamberlin
National Director of Digital Brand Strategy
2060 Digital

Interviewed by Deb Shaw, Editor, Local Media Today

Q. Tell us about 2060 Digital and the innovative process that led to its creation.

A. 2060 Digital’s roots stem back to 2009 when the Cincinnati radio cluster started offering Social Media Management to its radio customers.  Looking back, this was a very bold move as Facebook and Twitter were fledging companies at the time.  There were many more established digital services they could have offered, but this seemed like the most natural fit for a radio company, and so far, it was a great place to start.

Q. Can you give us some insight into the scope of digital services delivered by 2060 Digital? What’s hot?

A. We like to sell holistic, long term digital campaigns that follow the customer’s path to purchase.  The goal is to use digital products and services that start by attracting a targeted group and ends with those customers becoming advocates singing the praises of our clients.  To accomplish this we deploy an arsenal of digital products from websites to email and everything in between.  2060 Digital is a Google Premier Partner so we are always high on what Google can do for our clients including innovations in AdWords, Display, and YouTube. “Hot” for us is a successful campaign and happy clients!

Q. You were a presenter at the recent LMA/Borrell Associates Digital Agency summit and attendees really liked your sales structure and in particular, the expectation that all account executives set two qualified appointments per month. Can you tell us about your structure and elaborate about the appointment setting quota and process?

A. We believe in pipeline management vs. sales management.

The biggest difference between the two is the relentless management of activity vs. closed sales. If the activity is consistent a percentage of “sales” becomes not only inevitable, but it is predictable so basically we are creating a controlled sales environment.

The start of this activity management is each account executive setting two new qualified digital appointments per month.  It’s a paradigm shift for most sales teams and management as they have historically been “judged” by sales quotas.  But, with digital being a complimentary service to the primary media product we feel it takes some pressure off the sales team as we launched and now allows for consistent growth.

Q. You said that the digital brand strategist (DBS) is the lynchpin hire for your agency. What is their primary responsibility and why is this a key hire?

A. The primary responsibility of the Digital Brand Strategist is to be the digital expert in the room.  The Digital Brand Strategist is on every initial digital sales call our AE’s set.  Their job in the meeting is to educate the client about digital first, and then strategy. Many times we are educating the client about something they have purchased from another company and will continue buying from the competitor, but they really did not understand what it was, and we are perfectly fine with helping them.  The secondary responsibility of the DBS, along with our team of Digital Campaign Strategists, is to be a marketing strategy consultant.    They work with clients analyzing the marketing strategies the client is utilizing to grow their business, and mesh how digital can enhance and drive better results.

We could not figure out how to keep AE’s trained to the point of being a trusted digital advisor to our clients with the ever changing digital climate.  We believe that having a highly-trained DBS on staff is far less expensive than the constant training of both established and new AE’s to the level of expertise.

Q. At 2060 Digital, 40% of next year’s revenue is already booked. How are you able to keep churn low and recurring revenue high?

A. The ability to be able to book revenue into the coming year and to have low-churn, recurring revenue is really the result of three components coming together.

It’s a simple math problem, if you sell a 12-month contract in October you have 10-months of revenue booked into the coming year. We believe it is the DBS educating the client that is at the root of our success with getting these long term contracts.

The consistency of the two appointments every month from the AE yields predictable new sales revenue.
Hubbard has made a significant, long-term investment into a well-staffed campaign management team who launches, manages, maintains, and continuously works with our clients.

Q. What are the key drivers to your growth trajectory?

A. As described earlier our revenue forecasts are fairly consistent due to our model.  However, we are seeing a lot of clients who have been “burnt” by inexperienced media AE’s selling them something that did not work.  Because of our ability to sell more like an agency than a media company offering digital products on a Price List, we anticipate even faster growth as we clean up some messes.

Q. What was your biggest take-away from the recent LMA/Borrell Digital Agency Summit?

A. More questions, than answers.

Q. Tell us more about 2060 Digital’s three tenets: “Educate, don’t sell; offer long-term, holistic campaigns; and sell only what we’d sell our Grandma’s.”

A. We discussed a lot about the first two, so I will talk about the third; only sell what you would sell your Grandma.  When I was a Vice-President of Marketing for a large private held company, my boss/mentor put it a different way, “If it was your money, would you spend it this way (because it was literally his)?” Multiple times per day in our offices you will hear, “Would you sell that to your Grandma?” It’s a check to be sure we are doing something we believe will work for the client, not just to “sell” something.  This is made much easier by having activity vs. revenue quotas.  An unfortunate reality is “bad” sales happen when you are stressed to “close”.  We don’t feel that daily stress, so we can take our time and sell what will work.  We have walked away from our share of sales, as we refused to sell what was being asked of us because we wouldn’t sell it to our Grandma.

Q. Bright lights on please….what do you see coming down the road for digital services?

Q. I foresee a new dilemma around the corner, that being the continued rise of the local advertising agency selling digital services. This will offer an interesting paradox for many media companies to define who their actual client is.  Is it the advertising agency who buys traditional media products or the SMB who the agency now wants to sell digital services to?

Q. With more years under your belt than most media companies who are in the digital services business you probably have had many ‘aha moments along the way. Can you share any hindsight wisdom for newcomers to this business? Tips for avoiding certain pitfalls and accelerating success?

A. Although it may sound like we have a much defined go-to-market and sales strategy, the truth is most markets, clusters, local management, and sales teams are very different.  You need to be able to adjust your plan to each so you can reach your ultimate goal.  It’s evolution, not revolution.

Q. What does Matt Chamberlin’s digital diet consist of these days? Any websites or podcasts that you especially enjoy for work or pleasure?

A. I have three daughters that are highly involved in lacrosse, and the best place for lacrosse coverage is The Lacrosse Network.  TLN got its start as a YouTube channel and now has a great app. The hosts Colin and Samir are highly entertaining and the content delivered is innovative and well done.  It’s the future of TV.

TVN Names Scripps Station Group Of The Year

In announcing the honor, TVNewsCheck Editor Harry A. Jessell cited the company’s efforts to go beyond broadcasting and establish itself prominently and profitably among national digital media. Led by CEO Rich Boehne, over the past three years Scripps has spent $124 million to acquire Newsy (OTT news), Midroll (podcasting) and Cracked (digital content). Tom Sly, VP, Digital Revenue at Scripps is a director on the LMA board. Read the full article.

Emily Walsh named publisher of Observers

She will oversee Observer Media Group’s Sarasota-Manatee newspapers and website.

Emily Walsh, chief digital officer for the Observer Media Group Inc., has been named publisher of the company’s four Sarasota-based newspapers, magazines and website.

Observer Media Group CEO Matt Walsh — Emily Walsh’s father — announced her appointment to the company’s staff at its recent annual employee meeting.

Effective immediately, the younger Walsh, 36, will serve as publisher of the East County Observer, Longboat Observer, Sarasota Observer, Siesta Key Observer, Season magazine, LWR Life magazine and And she will continue to head up the company’s overall digital strategy and operations.

Emily Walsh, a 15-year employee at the company, is succeeding her mother, Lisa Walsh, as part of a succession plan in the family-owned business. Matt and Lisa Walsh, along with Lisa’s parents, David and Ruth Beliles, started the company 21 years ago when they purchased the Longboat Observer.

Lisa Walsh will continue as vice president of the company, serving as a mentor for her daughter in Sarasota and sharing oversight with Matt Walsh of the company’s 10 newspapers, six websites and magazines.

“When Emily started with the company 15 years ago, she expected it to be a part-time gig, allowing her to earn enough money to move to New York City,” said Matt Walsh. “But much to our surprise, and hers, Emily fell in love with the business.

“With Lisa and me crossing the 60-age barrier a couple of years ago; with the rapid changes in the media industry; and with Emily’s well-rounded experience and accomplishments, we think Emily has earned the position and that it’s time to start making a transition,” said Matt Walsh.

The younger Walsh started in the company as a photographer for the Longboat Observer’s Black Tie social section. From there, she became Black Tie editor and later editor of the newspaper’s Black Tie and Arts & Entertainment sections and then moved to the sales side of the company’s Sarasota-based papers as an advertising sales executive.

In 2009, Walsh directed the company’s launch of and continued to oversee the company’s moves into the digital arena. Since 2010, the Local Media Association, an organization of more than 2,500 newspapers in North America, repeatedly has ranked in the top three of Best Community Websites, Best Layout and Design and Best Overall Local News Sites in its Digital Media Contest.

In 2013, Walsh headed up the company’s launch of a digital marketing and advertising agency, Digital Observer Media. In 2015, Digital Observer Media In 2015, won a Gold ADDY and Best in Show ADDY from the adFed Suncoast American Advertising Awards for its work on for its work on the Seminole Pride Noble website.

Walsh’s involvement in the newspaper industry includes currently serving as chair of the Local Media Association Foundation Board of Directors. In 2012, Editor & Publisher magazine named her one of “25 Under 35: The Next Generation of Publishing Leaders” in America.

Walsh also has been active in the community, most notably as a chair of fund-raising events for not-for-profit charities. Over the past 15 years, she co-chaired the UnGala Gala for the John and Mable Ringling Museum (twice) and has chaired or co-chaired events for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation; Goodwill Industries; the Community AIDS Network; Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center and NARSAD, a national mental-health organization.

She currently is serving a two-year term as chair of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Board of Trustees; serves on the board of Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center; serves on the Ringling College Library Association Board of Directors as Town Hall Chair 2018; and serves as a regional director of the Calusa chapter of Leadership Florida.

She also previously served two years as a director of NARSAD. At age 26, Emily was one of the youngest recipients in Girls Inc.’s history to receive the “She Knows Where She Is Going” award.

“Emily not only bleeds Observer red,” said Matt Walsh. “She loves this community. She is the right person to help our Observer colleagues take our company to the next level.”

About Observer Media Group Inc.

Observer Media Group Inc. is based in Sarasota and was founded in 1995. Its newspapers, websites and magazines include:

  • The East County Observer, Longboat Observer, Sarasota Observer, Siesta Key Observer;; Season magazine and LWR Life, all in Sarasota-Manatee counties.
  • Plant City Times & Observer;
  • West Orange Times & Observer, Windermere Observer;
  • Palm Coast Observer, Ormond Beach Observer;,
  • Business Observer;



Local Media Association Hires Director of Broadcast Services

Broadcasting executive brings strong digital training background

June 6, 2016 – Local Media Association, the professional trade association for nearly 3,000 local TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, and more, has hired Jack Zavoral as director of broadcast services.

Zavoral is a dynamic and innovative digital and broadcast sales and marketing executive, experienced in integrating digital with broadcast media. He spent three years at Quincy Broadcast in charge of the digital sales teams at their local broadcast and newspaper properties.

For the past 18 months, Zavoral has provided sales consultation services including digital marketing seminars to companies such as Morgan Murphy, Quincy Broadcasting, Paxton Media Group, and more.

Previous to that, he was at MyWeather LLC and Weather Central, where he led the digital sales team and worked with hundreds of TV stations.

Zavoral brings new skill sets to LMA along with his many contacts in the broadcast industry. Zavoral has also worked with hundreds of SMBs on their digital marketing strategies.

“I am excited to join the LMA team and bring real world digital training, research, seminars, and events to the broadcast industry. I will be helping clients get the most out of our services and moving them forward with their digital transformation strategies and tactics,” said Zavoral.

Nancy Lane, president of LMA added, “More and more broadcasters such as Nexstar, E.W. Scripps Co. and WRAL have become members of LMA and are increasingly turning to us for digital training, certifications, cutting edge conferences and innovative webinars. Jack’s experience in the industry allows him to understand the particular needs of local broadcast companies and expands our ability to serve this important segment of the industry.”

To learn how LMA can help you advance your digital business goals contact

Zavoral at or (608) 347-7565.

About Local Media Association

Local Media Association is a thriving and innovative trade association that assists nearly 3,000 local TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, and more, with their transformation strategies. LMA serves as a complimentary association to others such as NAB, RAB, NAA, and more. In the past two years, LMA has partnered with over 30 media associations to help the local media industry with their digital initiatives.

LMA offers cutting-edge programs, conferences, webinars, research, training and development programs, and more. LMA is intensely focused on helping local media companies discover new and sustainable business models.

For more information visit
Press Contact: Peter Conti, Sales and Marketing Director
804-360-9434 |