2020 LMA Digital Summit Week

Revenue • Strategy • Audience
Aug. 10-14 • Virtual

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The Digital Summit is going virtual Aug. 10-14! More details to be announced soon.

The Digital Summit is all about ROI — growing revenue, refining strategy, developing audience, and more. Last year’s event attracted more than 300 local media executives from newspapers, TV stations, digital news sites, radio stations and the R&D community. It’s powerful to gather everyone in the local media ecosystem to share, network and collaborate.

Special thanks to our title sponsors, Facebook Journalism Project and Google News Initiative, and to our partner, LION Publishers.

Sponsors and Partners


Wednesday, Aug. 5

Noon-5:00 p.m.: One-on-One Meetings with R&D Partners

Arriving early? Sign up for one-on-one meetings with our R&D partners. These 15-minute meetings offer the perfect opportunity to learn more about goods and services the R&D community can provide. Sign up for four or more meetings and get a $25 Starbucks gift card. (R&D partners: Spots are limited. Please contact Lindsey Estes at lindsey.estes@nulllocalmedia.org today to secure your spot.)

2:00 p.m.: Welcome

Nancy Lane


Chris Krewson


Nancy Lane, CEO, Local Media Association, and Chris Krewson, executive director, LION Publishers, will greet attendees and introduce plans for the day.

2:05 p.m.-3:00 p.m.: Opening Session: GNI Innovation Challenge Winners Share Plans

The GNI North American Innovation Challenge announced the funding of 34 projects in October 2019. During this opening session, we’ll get updates on three very exciting projects:

  • Frank Mungeam


    Catherine Badalamente


    Ken Doctor


    Ken Doctor’s Lookout Local: Launching first in Santa Cruz County, CA, Lookout Local will change the conversation about what’s now possible in creating new, strong, democracy-building, self-sustaining local news institutions. With a mobile-first focus, it will provide intensive local news coverage, analysis and features through multi-platform audio, email newsletters and more.

  • Ben Shaw


    Aaron Leaf


    Graham Media Group’s Membership Program: The plan calls for the building of a “freemium to paid” membership program for the company’s local TV stations to diversify revenue and grow audiences across all GMG sites.

  • Okayplayer: This project consists of a digital tipping platform, a freelance journalist database and a simple crowdfunding strategy that will create a sustainable method of funding local newsgathering.

Presenters: Ken Doctor, president, Newsonomics; Catherine Badalamente, SVP and chief innovation officer, Graham Media Group; Frank Mungeam, Knight professor of practice, newsroom innovation, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Aaron Leaf, director of editorial operations, OkayAfrica/Okayplayer. Moderator: Ben Shaw, innovation challenges operations manager, Google News Initiative.

3:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.: Break with R&D Partners

Take time to visit with some of the industry’s most progressive R&D partners.

3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.: Opening Workshops — Choose from Three Topics

Mike Shapiro


Lauren Batcheller


Rachel Watkins


Topic 1: Branded Content — What the heck is it? Why should we build it? How do we sell it? How do we sustain it? Branded content is more than a marketing buzzword or a new shiny object for sales teams to chase. It is a time-tested strategy that combines storytelling with powerful advertiser messages. Branded content not only brings in new revenue and new business, but can also engage new audiences with unique content. Hear advice from content marketing experts and jump into an interactive workshop designed to help you create your own strategy to take to the team back at home. Sponsored by Social News Desk.

Julia Campbell


Josh Mabry


Presenters: Branded Content with a Purpose: Rachel Watkins, senior marketing manager, The Dallas Morning News; Content Outside Your Core: Lauren Batcheller, national digital sales manager, Graham Media Group; Branded Content for Hyper-Local Publishers: Mike Shapiro, CEO/publisher, TAPinto; The Branded Content Project Sponsor: Josh Mabry, local news partnership lead, Facebook Journalism Project. Moderator: Julia Campbell, manager, The Branded Content Project.

Jed Williams


Tom Shaw


Toby Collodora


Topic 2: Consumer Revenue Strategies – How Local Media Companies Are Accelerating Transformation and Growth through Direct Audience Relationships: The paradigm shift is undeniable and gathering speed – direct, deep relationships with audiences are the backbone of a successful media brand in the 2020s. They’re also the foundation of a sustainable business model, one that is controllable, predictable and recurring. In this workshop, get real insights, data points and case studies that you can act on right away to propel your digital subscriptions / consumer revenue business forward. With spotlights on how to retain your best customers to increase their lifetime value and how to build mission-based teams to achieve your goals. Plus discussion roundtables that dive deep on the topics that matter most to you!

Liz White


Jay Horton


Presenters: Retaining Your Best Customers to Grow Lifetime Value: Toby Collodora, Minneapolis Star Tribune; Building Teams and Aligning Your Organization for Subscriptions Success: Tom Shaw, Shaw Media; Jay Horton, president, digital, WEHCO Media; Liz White, publisher, Record-Journal. Moderator: Jed Williams, chief strategy officer, LMA and project manager, GNI Subscriptions Lab.

Topic 3: Philanthropic Funding for Local Media: Philanthropy is increasingly becoming part of the business model for local news organizations, including for-profit companies. In this workshop, we’ll hear from a diverse mix of media companies that are having success on the fundraising front.

Presenters: To be announced.

5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.: Happy Hour, sponsored by Facebook Journalism Project and Google News Initiative

A great opportunity to network, visit with our sponsors and exhibitors, and unwind after Day 1.

Thursday, Aug. 6

Three all-day tracks to choose from:
StrategyDigital Sales Managers BootcampAudience

With more than 300 attendees expected, we’ll provide something for everyone. Check out the agenda for each track and attend the sessions that make the most sense for you. Pick one track or mix and match!

Track 1: Strategy

Jump to Sales Bootcamp Track | Jump to Audience Track

This track is perfect for anyone charged with digital strategy, encompassing product, sales, marketing and content, at a media company. We’ll cover a wide range of topics and emerging trends.

8:30 a.m.-9:45 a.m.: Funding Journalism and Business Transformation — Understanding the Opportunities

Lea Trusty


Tracie Powell


Paul Cheung


It’s rare to find a media company that has not benefited from some form of funding over the past three years: countless labs and accelerators; matching funds to hire journalists; investigative reporting funds; grant opportunities; contests/challenges; contributions and more. In this session we’ll hear directly from the funding community. They’ll share how decisions are being made, where the opportunities are for 2020 and where they are seeing the biggest ROI on their investments. We will leave plenty of time for Q&A.

Matt DeRienzo


Melissa Davis


David Brooks


Presenters: Paul Cheung, director of journalism and technology innovation, Knight Foundation; Lea Trusty, program associate, Democracy Fund; David Brooks, head of news and local media, global partnerships at Google; a representative of Facebook Journalism Project; Tracie Powell, program officer, Borealis Philanthropy; Melissa Davis, Gates Family Foundation. Moderator: Matt DeRienzo, LMA consultant and former executive director, LION Publishers.

9:45 a.m.-10:30 a.m.: Top Three Strategies to Grow Digital

Todd Handy


Catherine Badalamente


Jeff Elgie


If you had to double down on three top strategies to grow digital revenue and audience, what would they be? Our panelists, representing radio, TV, digital news sites and newspapers, have strong opinions and will share how and why they came to these decisions.

Presenters: Todd Handy, chief digital officer, Beasley Media Group; Ginger Neal, chief digital officer, San Francisco Chronicle (invited); Steve Chung, chief digital officer, FOX Television Stations (invited); Jeff Elgie, Village Media. Moderator: Catherine Badalamente, SVP/chief innovation officer, Graham Media Group.

10:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Break with R&D Partners

Take time to visit with some of the industry’s most progressive R&D partners.

11:00 a.m.-noon: Rapid-Fire Case Studies in 15 Minutes or Less

Jen Sabella


Tracy Baim


Eric Barnes


How’d they do that? Three media organizations tell their stories of growth and innovation.

  • How The Daily Memphian raised $8M in one year to launch a new site. Presenter: Eric Barnes, CEO, The Daily Memphian
  • How The Chicago Reader is reinventing itself after being sold for a dollar. Presenter: Tracy Baim, Publisher, Chicago Reader
  • How Block Club Chicago sold 10,000 memberships during its last campaign. Presenter: Jen Sabella, Co-founder, Block Club Chicago

Moderator: Nancy Lane, CEO, Local Media Association

Noon-1:15 p.m.: Lunch on Your Own

1:15 p.m.-2:00 p.m.: Collaborative Journalism Driving Publisher ROI — The Resolve Philly Story

Cassie Haynes


The future of journalism is collaborative. One of the best stories in the country is Resolve Philly. They have 24 media outlets, including TV broadcasters, newspapers, ethic media/publishers of color, digital news sites, radio stations and more, working together for the common good. They are tackling poverty in Philadelphia, and other compelling stories. They have put their competitive differences aside – and all are benefitting as a result. They’ll share their fascinating story during this session.

Presenters: Cassie Haynes, J.D., M.P.H., co-executive director, Resolve Philly; others to be invited.

2:00 p.m.-2:45 p.m.: Who’s Minding the Product?

Mariah Craddick


Jay Allred


Aron Pilhofer


Look at all the newspaper companies focused on the merchandising of digital subscriptions. See all the broadcasters focused on retrans and political revenue. And digital startups may pursue philanthropic funding or other alternatives for sustenance. Local media respond to these business-side rally cries with fervor, but where does that leave our consumer-facing products? Is local news our only reason to exist? Is it as important to information consumers as we like to think it is, and are we meeting their wants and needs with it? If we cannot make enough money on advertising or subscriptions related to local news, what other products or services should we be developing to help pay the cost of journalism? And do digital pure-plays innovate where legacy media can’t? These are the questions that might help define paths to survival, sustainability and future success. We’ll pose them to top-notch product thinkers from across the local media space.

Presenters: Mariah Craddick, product manager, McClatchy; Jay Allred, president, Richland Source; Eric Bright, chief marketing officer, Deseret Digital (invited); Moderator: Aron Pilhofer, director, News Catalyst.


Sponsor: Recruitology

2:45 p.m.-3:15 p.m.: Break with R&D Partners

Take time to visit with some of the industry’s most progressive R&D partners.

3:15 p.m.-4:00 p.m.: Best of the Best — Local Media Digital Innovation Awards

With hundreds of entries in more than 12 categories, the Local Media Digital Innovation Awards will spotlight the very best during this session. We’ll also hear from our 2020 digital innovator of the year. Prepare to be inspired by the great work going on at local media companies of all types and sizes.

4:00 p.m.- 4:30 p.m.: NewsFuel and the Fund for Local Journalism

Jay Small


Nancy Lane


Jed Williams


NewsFuel, funded by the GNI Innovation Challenge, will make it easy to match funders with journalism and business transformation grants for local media operators. The Fund for Local Journalism will provide a structure and fiscal sponsorship allowing both nonprofit and for-profit newsrooms to receive philanthropic funding for in-depth, investigative, accountability and solutions journalism projects without the burden of setting up their own 501(c)(3) and diverting resources to grant management. Learn how you can take advantage during this exciting session.

Presenters: Jay Small, chief operating officer, Local Media Association; Nancy Lane, CEO, Local Media Association; Jed Williams, chief strategy officer, Local Media Association.

4:30 p.m.: Conference Ends


Track 2: Digital Sales Manager Bootcamp, in partnership with Adcellerant

adcellerantJump to Strategy Track | Jump to Audience Track

Our popular sales bootcamp returns to help digital sales leaders hone management skills and bring revenue-growing practices back home to their teams. Bootcamp attendees will be invited to participate in a fun set of quizzes around session topics, and have a chance to win prizes, including a cool Google bike!

8:30 a.m.-8:40 a.m.: Introduction and Welcome

Jack Zavoral


Brock Berry


Presenters: Jack Zavoral, director of member development, LMA; Brock Berry, president, Adcellerant

8:40 a.m.-9:20 a.m.: Opening Roundtable: The Challenges We Face

Jonathan Muzio


This bootcamp will begin by addressing the biggest challenges faced by digital sales managers. We’ll survey you in advance to better understand the issues that are holding you back. We’ll share the results and then go into small group discussions. Each group will then vote on the top two challenges and share with the broader group. The next panelists will address how they are handling these challenges and turning them into opportunities.

Moderators: Jack Zavoral, director of member development, LMA; Jonathan Muzio, chief business development officer,  Adcellerant.

9:20 a.m.-10:00 a.m.: Overcoming Our Top Challenges

Steve Goldstein


Kelly Gilfillan


Stephanie Slagle


Amber Aldrich


These experts are ready to address all of the challenges brought forth in the opening roundtable. This rapid-fire session will provide lots of ideas to tackle these hurdles and grow digital revenue.

Panelists: Steve Goldstein, svp/general manager, 2060 Digital; Stephanie Slagle, senior director, brand and agency sales strategy, Graham Media Group; Amber Aldrich, director of advertising, The Seattle Times; Kelly Gilfillan, publisher, FW Publishing, Home Page division. Moderator: Jonathan Muzio, chief business development officer, Adcellerant.

10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.: Break with R&D Partners

Take time to visit with some of the industry’s most progressive R&D partners.

10:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Skills Transfer Coaching

Robert Young


When a strong sales person gets promoted to management, it can be difficult to transfer front-line skills to the team. This session will provide insights on how to lead, sell, and put your team in the best position to leverage your skills on their own.

Presenter: Robert Young, vice president, digital solutions, New Orleans Advocate.

11:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.: What is the Best Digital Sales Structure?

Todd Handy


We asked one of the best in the business to discuss options for sales structure and compensation at the local level, and how to optimize both for your objectives. You won’t want to miss this high energy session!

Presenter: Todd Handy, chief digital officer, Beasley Media Group

11:30 a.m.-noon: Storytelling: A Powerful Sales Strategy

Julia Campbell


What’s the story behind your strategy? No matter what products you are proposing to clients, the “storytelling” of what you are presenting is a critical sales strategy. We’ll show you techniques to help you educate, inform and engage your advertisers and your account executives.

Presenter: Julia Campbell, manager, The Branded Content Project

Noon-1:00 p.m.: Lunch on Your Own

1:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m.: Building an Inbound Leads Process

Meghan Brito


Sure, cold calling has its role. But what other tools and methods will help build that pipeline of leads at the top of the funnel? Learn how to build interest in your services among the local business community, and create a plan to generate new leads.

Presenter: Meghan Brito, vice president of marketing, Adcellerant

1:30 p.m.- 2:00 p.m.: Setting the Right Expectations

Sara Lennon


Learn how to position digital campaigns properly, avoid confusion or misaligned expectations, and accurately interpret your clients’ expected results and impacts on their business.

Presenter: Sara Lennon, vice president of media strategy, Eldon Gottschalk and Associates.

2:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m.: Understanding Attribution

John Hoeft


Learn how to help your clients understand the impacts different media campaigns have on the consumer purchase path.

Presenter: John Hoeft, vice president, strategic partnerships, Ninjacat.


Sponsor: Recruitology

2:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m.: Break with R&D Partners

Take time to visit with some of the industry’s most progressive R&D partners.

3:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.: How to Differentiate Amid a Sea of Competition

Richard Jones


As some digital products trend towards commodities, how do you add value in your proposition to prospects?  What are the attributes that make you different and better than your competition?

Presenter: Richard Jones, president, Proven Performance Media.

3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.: Gaining and Maintaining Organizational Buy-in

Jodelle Bailey


Bryce Jacobson


Hear from digital leaders who have been successful in building and maintaining support from above and below in their organizations.  This closing session is intended to help you build real support for your initiatives from people who may not fully understand your business.

Presenters: Jodelle Bailey, director of local digital sales, Sinclair Broadcasting; Kurt Christopher, general manager of digital, Hubbard Broadcasting; Bryce Jacobson, director of advertising, Swift Communications. Moderator: Brock Berry, president, AdcellerantKurt Christopher

4:30 p.m.-4:45 p.m.: Wrap Up, Conference Ends


Track 3: Audience

Jump to Strategy Track | Jump to Sales Bootcamp Track

This day of learning is designed for anyone working to develop a broader audience as well as cultivate deeper connections with existing readers, viewers, members and listeners. Sessions will explore how local news organizations are leveraging data to segment audiences across platforms and take meaningful action that propels growth and bolsters revenue. Learn about the products and workflows that help connect media to their followers and best practices for conducting user research.

8:30 a.m.- 9:15 a.m.: Reaching audience IRL: How The Texas Tribune plans events

Agnes Varnum


Rodney Gibbs


Derived from ongoing work in the newly launched Revenue Lab, learn about The Texas Tribune’s audience-centered approach to planning, executing and growing revenue through local events. RevLab Executive Director Rodney Gibbs and Deputy Director Agnes Varnum present the framework for putting on unique and tailored events that your audience will love to attend, and how to keep them engaged both online and offline after the event.

Presenters: Rodney Gibbs, executive director, and Agnes Varnum, deputy director, Revenue Lab at The Texas Tribune

9:15-9:45 a.m. Data-Informed and Audience-First Newsletters

David Arkin


What does it take to create a new, unique newsletter offering for all or some of your audience? Local broadcast and print media is using the vast data at their disposal to create new audience-centric products including newsletters. Learn about success with pop-up newsletters around events like weather, sports, and public safety, as well as ways news organizations are measuring the efficacy and value of these new products.

Presenters: David Arkin, director of digital and enterprising content, KPRC; Minneapolis Star Tribune (invited)

9:45 a.m.-10:30 a.m.: How Small and Medium-Sized Publishers Can Get the Most Out of Facebook

Amber Burgess


Local newsrooms are discovering how to effectively grow and engage audience on Facebook. Supported by data from thousands of local news Facebook pages, Amber Burgess from CrowdTangle showcases how small, mid-size, hyperlocal, and niche news publishers are taking an audience-first approach and getting the most out of their efforts on Facebook.

Presenter: Amber Burgess, CrowdTangle.

10:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Break with R&D Partners

Take time to visit with some of the industry’s most progressive R&D partners.

11:00 a.m.-noon: WhereBy.Us Case Study: Audience Growth Through Structured User Testing

Alexandra Smith


Building scale from a small product team, WhereBy.Us created documentation and ran user-research training that empowers teams to design and conduct their own projects with assistance in organization, methods, and sense-making. Learn how to adopt this framework in your own newsroom, and see how the methodology — applied at WhereBy.Us local news brand The Incline — led to a 32% increase in new members.

Presenter: Alexandra Smith, growth director, WhereBy.Us.

Noon-1:15 p.m.: Lunch on Your Own

1:15 p.m.-2:00 p.m.: Google Tools Training

Discover and better understand the Google reporting tools and resources available to journalists and newsrooms, with use cases and linked training materials.

2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.: Audience Listening: The Key to Growth and Sustainability

David Cohn


Chris Krewson




Loyalty is cultivated when news brands value the relationship with the consumer and continuously offer opportunities to hear feedback and engage. Industry leaders in audience listening — and the technologies that enable organizations to discover and strategize around findings — share examples of local newsrooms’ audience-centered initiatives and discuss why ongoing, two-way conversations that strengthen journalism and the community are critically important to the success of local media.

Presenters: David Cohn, co-founder and chief strategy officer, Subtext; Andrew Haeg, CEO, GroundSource; Bridget Thorenson, editorial and community manager, Hearken.

Moderator: Chris Krewson, executive director, LION Publishers

3:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.: Break with R&D Partners


Sponsor: Recruitology

Take time to visit with some of the industry’s most progressive R&D partners.

3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.: Best of the Best in Engagement, Social Media and News Innovation

Emilie Lutostanski


See the creative talent behind some of the best audience engagement, social media and news innovation strategies in the local media industry. We’ll showcase the Local Media Digital Innovation Award winners’ impressive entries for Best Social Media Strategy and Best Audience and Engagement Strategy, and the 2019 Digital News Innovator of the Year will share his or her leadership insights.

Moderator: Emilie Lutostanski, director, Local News Resource Center at LMA

4:30 p.m.: Conference Ends


Thanks to our Gold Sponsor


Learn more about all of our sponsors here.

Sponsorship and exhibit opportunities

R&D partners: Learn about sponsor and exhibit opportunities at the 2020 Digital Summit.


Don’t forget! The Digital Summit is part of LMA membership benefits!

LMA local media company members receive a number of free registrations based on membership dues. Use code “DRSMB20” when registering. Not sure how many your company is eligible to receive? Contact Jack Zavoral.

LION members can attend for free. Use the code “DRSLION20” when registering.

Note: R&D members are not eligible for free registrations.