Missed the Texas Innovation Mission? Don’t worry, we will be announcing another regional one soon. Check out the happenings on the last one.


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Some of the most innovative work in the media industry is being done in Texas. The first regional Innovation Mission for 2017 will include stops in Austin and Dallas. This trip features a fantastic mix of traditional media companies that are truly transforming their business model along with disruptors and startups that are shaking things up. Senior-level media executives that can effect or influence change at their company will benefit the most from this immersive experience learning directly from inside the walls of these industry leaders.

 Companies visited:
Dallas Morning News
Nexstar Digital/LIN Digital
Texas Tribune
Incite/Emmis Communications
The Victoria Advocate
UT Engaging News Project
Capital Factory
The Daily Dot

Monday, Feb. 6

Fly to Austin, TX (to be arranged on your own)
Host hotel: Courtyard and Residence Inn by Marriott. Austin Downtown Convention Center, 300 E. 4th Street, Austin, TX 78701

2 – 2:30 PM: Welcome and Introductions

2:30 – 3:45 PM: Kick-off meeting with the 2016 LMA Innovator of the Year Dan Easton (publisher, Victoria Advocate), and the 2014 Digital Innovator of the Year Jason Holmes (general manager, Advocate Digital Media) – This dynamic duo will talk about the tremendous transformation story that is going on in Victoria, Texas. They will focus on culture, digital agency strategy, native plan and more.

4 – 5:15 PM: Nexstar Digital/LlN Digital – Nexstar Media Group is a leading diversified media company that delivers a full portfolio of broadcast and digital products. We will meet with Nexstar Digital/LIN Digital, the central fulfillment arm for all of Nexstar’s digital agency businesses.

5:30 – 6:45 PM: Happy Hour hosted by Tiger Pistol – Tiger Pistol is a high volume Facebook Ad optimization platform used by leading SMB resellers, such as McClatchy and Hibu, to create, deploy and manage high-performance Facebook and Instagram ads at scale. Happy hour to take place at Tiger Pistol’s brand new office in downtown Austin.

7 PM: Dinner at Gloria’s

Tuesday, Feb. 7

7:30 AM: Breakfast at hotel

8:00 AM: Cabs to University of Texas

8:30 – 9:45 AM: UT Engaging News Project

The Engaging News Project at the University of Texas has a stated mission to “provide news organizations with research-based techniques for engaging digital audiences in commercially viable and democratically beneficial ways.” They have partnered with media companies such as McClatchy and Texas Tribune on research initiatives. Their director will present on their latest research findings in areas such as mobile news delivery methods, audience engagement across digital platforms, and contemporary website design. The IM group will also provide feedback on new research topics for UT to consider.

Cabs to Incite (Emmis Communications)

10:30 – 11:45 AM: Incite, A Division of Emmis Communications –Incite uses cause marketing for the good of the community. Among many of the events, one was getting 74,000 teens to sign a safe driving pledge; another was providing 4,000 children with bike helmets. Events are a huge part of the overall strategy as they leverage their access to entertainment through the company’s radio stations. Learn more about the fascinating world of cause marketing during this visit.

11:45 AM – 12:30 PM: Lunch

1 – 2:00 PM: Umbel – Big data platform that helps media companies and other businesses collect data, understand audience and engage customers. They are a venture capital backed Austin startup.

2:15 – 3:30 PM: Headline visit to major Austin tech company. Details to be announced soon.

4 – 5 PM: Texas Tribune – This 501 (c)(3) non-profit was founded by a venture capitalist who secured $4 million in funding just 7 years ago. They now have 50 employees with a business model that focuses heavily on events. In 2015, they produced 52 separate events with revenue of $1.57 million.

5:45 PM: Happy hour hosted by OwnLocal – Some of the most prominent companies in the Austin tech scene will also be on hand to give short talks over cocktails and appetizers.

7 PM: Dinner

Wednesday, Feb. 8

6:30 AM: Cab ride to Austin airport

8:30 AM: Flight to Dallas, Texas; arrive at 9:30 AM.

Cabs to Dallas Morning News. Luggage will be stored at DMN.

11:00 AM – 4:30 PM: Dallas Morning News – At the DMN, they have replaced nearly every penny of print losses with revenue from their new business units. CEO Jim Moroney and President Grant Moise are excited to host the group. This stop will include visits with senior executives, the digital team, the events group, and several of their agencies.

 4:30 PM: Transportation to hotel plus sharing of top takeaways.

Host hotel: Sheraton DFW Airport Hotel, 4440 W. John Carpenter Freeway, Irving, TX 75063

6 PM: Happy hour with

7 PM: Dinner at the hotel

Attendees can fly out the next morning.

The 2017 Austin/Dallas tour took place Feb. 6 through Feb. 8. The IM is limited to only 15 participants and will sell out quickly. Registrations are taken on a first come, first served basis.

The cost of the Austin/Dallas IM is $2,595 (Includes hotel rooms for three nights, three dinners, two lunches, two breakfasts, ground transportation in between visits, staff costs to attend/manage the trip, meeting room rentals, AV costs, supplies, and flight from Austin to Dallas). Attendees are responsible for their own airfare to Austin and home from Dallas.

Substitutions will be allowed, but once the flights are booked, there will be an additional charge for a new flight for the replacement participant.

From the 2016 Innovation Participants…



Stephanie Slagle/WBNS Digital““This trip made me realize that we need to be pioneers in OTT. I will be working on a strategy once I get back”




carolynCarolyn Voelkening/Record-Journal Publishing Company 
: “After this trip, our video strategy using in-house talent is much more clear. We’ve done a lot with video but they are one-off stories. Now we’ll work with Tout and YouTube to expand.”



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Big Fish CEO Mark Poss:: “Changing culture is really hard and not for the faint of heart and it’s not about the fricking Ping- Pong tables!





rich hooverGateHouse Media’s Senior Director of Business Strategy & Operations Rich Hoover:: “The disruptors have a risk-taking culture and they fail fast. We don’t do that enough and we need to try harder.”




greg treeceSwift Communications’ Director of Information Services Greg Treece“A company as big as Facebook has ‘Ruthless Priorization’ on their posters. They can’t get everything done even with their enormous resources. As media companies, we need to learn from this.“




Edwin RuisSwift Communications’ Director of Integrated Revenue Edwin Ruis:“I’m struck by the leadership at the disruptive companies. I find it hard to have regular meetings with my team and the big guys are having ‘All Hands’ meetings every week. If they can do it, we can too.”




Eric Bright


Deseret Digital’s VP Marketplace Eric Bright“Culture is not what you see – it’s what you feel… you could feel it on the Facebook campus. You could also feel it at Thumbtack. If your culture dies… that is it. You lose everything that you have.”