2020 LMA Digital Summit Week

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

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Digital Summit Week 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. This year, since an in-person conference is not feasible, we’re going virtual!


Monday-Thursday the event kicks off with a keynote at 11:00 a.m. EDT and each afternoon we’ll havethree sessions following this schedule:

  • 2 p.m. EDT: Senior Leader Strategy Sessions, sponsored by Legacy.com
  • 3 p.m. EDT: Audience Sessions, sponsored by Vevo
  • 4 p.m. EDT: Digital Sales Manager Sessions, sponsored by Adcellerant
  • Friday will be filled with a CrowdTangle session about Facebook trends from the Black press and a variety of roundtables.adcellerant

Special thanks to our title sponsor, Google News Initiative, and to our partner, LION Publishers.

Sponsors and Partners

One-on-One Meetings with R&D Partners

Sign up for one-on-one meetings with our R&D partners. You will be asked if you’d like to participate during the registration process. Simply choose “yes.” These 15-minute meetings offer the perfect opportunity to learn more about goods and services the R&D community can provide. Sign up for five or more meetings and get a $25 Starbucks or Amazon gift card. These meetings will be done virtually one-on-one with the R&D company and attendee on your own schedule. LMA will make the connection. Check out the R&D companies participating here.

Conference Agenda
All times are EDT

Monday, Aug. 10

11:00 a.m. Keynote: Richard Gingras, vice president of news, Google

Richard Gingras


Google’s commitment to the preservation and growth of high-quality news starts at the very top — it’s one of the company’s key OKRs (objectives & key results) implemented by CEO Sundar Pichai. Its strategy for carrying out this mission, both financially and through technology and resources, has taken many forms through the Google News Initiative; from investments in labs and training to the development of new tools to backing the launch of local news experiments. SVP News Richard Gingras is at the forefront of it all. In this exclusive chat, Gingras explains the strategies behind Google’s approach to news, honestly assesses what’s working and what’s not, and talks more broadly about what’s required for a sustainable, profitable news ecosystem that supports all models and voices.

Todd Handy


Jeff Elgie


2:00 p.m. Senior Leaders Strategy Session: Top Revenue Growth Strategies in These Uncertain Times

Every company’s plan for revenue growth in 2020 went out the window in March when COVID-19 forever changed our world. How are companies adapting and what strategies are the most promising at this moment in time? We’ll hear from three companies that are taking three different approaches. 

Catherine Badalamente


Peter Lamb


Presenters: Todd Handy, chief digital officer, Beasley Media Group; Jeff Elgie, CEO, Village Media; Catherine Badalamente, SVP/chief innovation officer, Graham Media Group. Moderated by Peter Lamb, LMA consultant.

3:00 p.m. Audience Session: WhereBy.Us Case Study: Audience Growth Through Structured User Testing 

Alexandra Smith


Mariah Craddick


Carolyn Gearig


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.

Presenters: Alexandra Smith, growth director, WhereBy.Us; Carolyn Gearig, former product manager, WhereBy.Us; Moderated by Mariah Craddick, senior product manager for storytelling, The Wall Street Journal.

Steve Goldstein


Amber Aldrich


4:00 p.m. Digital Sales Manager Session: Confronting Challenges

Our post-COVID reality presents multiple challenges for local media sales teams and our advertisers. This rapid-fire session will provide lots of ideas to tackle these hurdles, plan for the coming months, and look toward future growth and innovation.

Brock Berry


Kelly Gilfillan


Presenters: Steve Goldstein, SVP/general manager, 2060 Digital; Amber Aldrich, director of advertising, The Seattle Times; Kelly Gilfillan, publisher, FW Publishing, Home Page division. Moderated by Brock Berry, CEO, Adcellerant.


The Best of Branded Content – Lightning Round #1

Mike Shapiro





On-demand, quick hits featuring award-winning and innovative initiatives and the experts behind them. Pick and choose from The Branded Content Project success stories and pocket new ideas that will work in every city, for every organization. (Sponsored by Social News Desk)

  • TAPinto.net – Mike Shapiro, CEO and publisher
  • Entravision Communications – Luisa Collins, vice president of news, social affairs & wellness and Ana Escobar, content project director
  • Draper Media / WBOC – Lauren Champlin, multimedia journalist

Tuesday, Aug. 11 

Josh Mabry


Nancy Lane


Campbell Brown


11:00 a.m. Keynote: Fireside Chat with Campbell Brown, head of global news partnerships, Facebook 

We’ll catch up with Facebook’s Campbell Brown during this informal chat and then open it up to Q&A. We’ll get updates on their relief efforts to help local media companies during COVID-19, highlights from their numerous labs/accelerators and learn what’s on the horizon for the remainder of 2020 as well as next year. Josh Mabry, Local News Partnerships Lead, will also share some important updates. Moderated by Nancy Lane, CEO, Local Media Association

2:00 p.m. Senior Leaders Strategy Session: Consumer Revenue Strategies – How Local Media Companies Are Accelerating Transformation and Growth Through Direct Audience Relationships

Jay Horton


Liz White


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.

Toby Collodora


Jed Williams


Presenters: Jay Horton, president, digital, WEHCO Media; Liz White, publisher, Record-Journal and Toby Collodora, senior manager, engagement and retention, Star Tribune Media Company. Moderated by Jed Williams, chief strategy officer, LMA and project manager, GNI Subscriptions Lab.

3:00 p.m. Audience Session: Post-pandemic Pivot: Engaging Virtual Events for Local Media Audiences 

Rodney Gibbs




The Texas Tribune is known for its profitable, audience-centered approach to planning, executing and growing revenue through local events. The leaders of RevLab, which helps newsrooms around the world adopt the Texas Tribune’s playbook for financial sustainability, will share a refreshed framework for producing unique and tailored digital events that your audience will love to attend. See some of the work happening in the RevLab Events Bootcamp and hear about how media organizations have had to pivot their events strategies for a new era of virtual encounters.

Presenters: Rodney Gibbs, executive director, and Agnes Varnum, deputy director, Revenue Lab at The Texas Tribune. Moderated by Nicholas Simonetti, Director of Local Ad Sales, Vevo

4:00 p.m. Digital Sales Manager Session: Modernizing Your Sales Force in Midst of Crisis

Pam Laycock


Stephanie Slagle


“Never waste a good crisis.” We’re asking some of the best in the business to discuss options for modern, efficient sales structures that are emerging at the local level. Learn how teams from all mediums are recreating sales teams and positioning for the future, including doing more with less, opportunity to fix bad habits, good decisions moving forward, and what changes have been made that payback now and in the future.

Bryce Jacobson


Jay Small


Presenters: Pam Laycock, SVP transformation and strategy, Torstar Corporation; Stephanie Slagle, senior director, brand and agency sales strategy, Graham Media Group; Bryce Jacobson, publisher, Post Independent and Rifle Citizen Telegram. Moderated by Jay Small, chief operating officer, Local Media Association.

The Best of Branded Content – Lightning Round #2





On-demand, quick hits featuring award-winning and innovative initiatives and the experts behind them. Pick and choose from The Branded Content Project success stories and pocket new ideas that will work in every city, for every organization. (sponsored by Social News Desk)

  • KSL Television / Bonneville Salt Lake Business Development – Alan Blackburn, director of local sales, Jon Accarrino, executive director
  • AL DÍA News Media – Martin Alfaro, business development manager
  • Social News Desk – Apryl Pilolli, head of innovation

Wednesday, Aug. 12

11:00 a.m. Keynote: Journalism Funded by Philanthropy – Do You Have a Strategy? 

Nancy Lane


Tim Ritchey


The funding community is rallying around local news in ways never seen before. It’s becoming as important as arts, education, and healthcare to philanthropists all over North America. In this session, we’ll share some industry trends and then hear from Tim Ritchey, publisher of The Fresno Bee, who is an early leader in this space. Under Tim’s leadership, an education lab has been funded for two years with a staff of four. Three other reporters covering land use, housing, water, and development challenges that contribute to regional inequality are also being funded by local philanthropy. Tim will share the plan and leave plenty of time for Q&A.

Presenter: Tim Ritchey, publisher, The Fresno Bee. Moderated by Nancy Lane, CEO, Local Media Association.

2:00 p.m. Senior Leaders Strategy Session: Branded Content with a PurposeSocial News Desk

Local media organizations are driven by similar purposes around three goals: producing relevant and engaging information, helping businesses grow, and speaking for those who can not speak for themselves. These core values prove to be a powerful combination when applied to cause and community marketing strategies. This session will showcase successful and creative cause and community marketing initiatives and will give you the tools to implement revenue-generating elements now.  Sponsored by Social News Desk.

Rachel Watkins


Katie Fulp


Julia Campbell



Presenters: Rachel Watkins, senior marketing manager, The Dallas Morning News;  Katie Fulp, director of operations, WRAL Digital Solutions. Moderated by Julia Campbell, The Branded Content Project, Apryl Pilolli, head of innovation, Social News Desk.

3:00 p.m. Audience Session: Data-Informed and Audience-First News Products 

Aron Pilhofer


David Arkin


Sonali Verma




How can local media use audience feedback and data to create engaging and profitable new products? Local broadcast and print media are using the vast data at their disposal to bootstrap new data-informed, audience-centric products — including in response to the many breaking news events of 2020, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and weather events. This session explores ways local news organizations harness data to create time-bound news products, such as pop-up newsletters, and how local media can use audience data to offer more responsive and engaging journalism. Industry leaders charged with local news product understand these offerings must respect their loyal audience segments while having built-in revenue opportunities. We’ll ask them questions about how to launch, test and measure new products, as well as how to grow organic users and subscribers.

Presenters: Sonali Verma, senior product manager, analytics, The Globe and Mail; David Arkin, chief content and product officer,
O’Rourke Media Group; Amanda Wilkins, product manager for engagement, McClatchy.
Moderated by Aron Pilhofer, director, News Catalyst.

4:00 p.m. Digital Sales Manager Session: Delivering Real Results

Sara Lennon


Adam Lee


Irene Weygandt



How should we communicate to our clients? And how should our clients communicate to their customers? Hear directly from advertisers and learn how to position campaigns properly, avoid confusion or misaligned expectations, and accurately interpret your clients’ expected results and impacts on their business. Learn how to help your clients understand the impacts different media campaigns have on the consumer-purchase path.

Presenters: Sara Lennon, vice president of media strategy, Eldon Gottschalk and Associates; Cara Tomich, operations manager, Baby Bling; Irene B. Weygandt, director of communication and marketing, Josef Korbel School for International Studies, University of Denver. Moderated by Adam Lee, president, TechintLabs.

The Best of Branded Content – Lightning Round #3

Lauren Batcheller


Stephanie Slagle



On-demand, quick hits featuring award-winning and innovative initiatives and the experts behind them. Pick and choose from The Branded Content Project success stories and pocket new ideas that will work in every city, for every organization. (sponsored by Social News Desk)


  • Graham Media Group – Lauren Batcheller, national digital sales manager, Stephanie Slagle, senior director, brand and agency sales strategy
  • Newsday Media Group – Nannette Fevola, senior director of national sales marketing/client solutions

Thursday, Aug. 13

Mitch Pugh


Jennifer Mitchell




11:00 a.m. Keynote: LMA’s Innovators Share Groundbreaking Growth Strategies

Each year, the Local Media Association awards digital and news innovators for their work pioneering new concepts, experimenting in new and creative ways, and delivering impactful results for their companies. In this session, three executives who’ve exemplified leadership in innovation will share their success strategies.

Mitch Pugh, executive editor, The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., was honored for his leading work in generating significant digital subscriptions growth for his company, emerging as an industry leader in this area.

Jennifer Mitchell, senior vice president, content development, ABC Owned Television Stations, earned the award for leading the content strategies and original, digital content production for nonlinear platforms across the group, and for driving new content and revenue opportunities across the board.

Daniel Alvarez, vice president, product and design, NBCU Owned Television Stations, received the honor for his leading work increating digital/mobile products that deliver and serve bilingual audiences.

Moderated by Guy Tasaka, Sr. director, product management, WO Digital Suite

2:00 p.m. Senior Leaders Strategy Session: Collaborative Journalism Meets Business Transformation

What if a news collaborative was set up from day one to also focus on business transformation? The Oklahoma Media Center, launched in May with funding from Inasmuch Foundation, was created to do just that.

What does this mean? It means focusing on the business health of the media partners as much as the journalism. 

Already the Center has attracted a second funder, that resulted in stipends for all media partners to assist with their reporting on the impact of COVID on K-12 education in the state of Oklahoma. A third funder recently made a verbal commitment. On the business side, the group voted to start with newsletter/email strategies as the first topic to pursue. Industry expert Dan Oshinsky was brought in to help.

Jim Brady


Tyler Tokarczyk


Kelly Fry



In this session, learn more about the strategy to produce great solutions-based journalism in your region, while improving your business model at the same time. This is a model that can be recreated in markets all over North America.

Presenters: Kelly Dyer Fry, executive editor, The Oklahoman; Jim Brady, project manager, The Oklahoma Media Center; Tyler Tokarczyk, Inasmuch Foundation; Ryan Welton, director of digital content, Griffin Communications, and Mollie Bryant, founder and editor, bigiftrue.org

3:00 p.m. Audience Session: Tools for Audience Listening — The Key to Growth and Sustainability 

Amid health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, protests against police brutality, and more, truly hearing the voices of our audience is more important than ever. Loyalty is cultivated when news brands value the relationship with the consumer and continuously offer opportunities to hear feedback and engage in organic ways. 

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. When political, economic and social unrest are afoot, how can local newsrooms effectively harness these tools and effectively amplify a diversity of concerns?

Bridget Thorenson



David Cohn


Chris Krewson


Presenters: Bridget Thorenson, editorial and community manager, Hearken; David Cohn, co-founder and chief strategy officer, Subtext; Kate Myers, GroundSource. Moderated by Chris Krewson, executive director, LION Publishers

4:00 p.m. Digital Sales Manager Session: Building a World-Class Value Proposition

Brock Berry


Jolene Sherman




How do we position our organization as the market leader and grow market share in an acutely challenging new sales environment? It’s no longer enough to reposition our products and platforms as “best in class.” We must also convince our advertisers to return to the marketing marketplace. How can your creative strategy assist in securing advertisers? What are the attributes, products, and processes that make you different and better than your competition and can convince your clients to spend again? 

Panelists: Dani Newman, director of digital sales, Colorado Springs Gazette; Jolene Sherman, VP and managing director, Amplified Digital and Lee Enterprises; Kurt Christopher, general manager of digital, Hubbard Broadcasting Television Group. Moderated by Brock Berry, CEO, Adcellerant.

The Best of Branded Content – Lightning Round #4



Peter Lamb



On-demand, quick hits featuring award-winning and innovative initiatives and the experts behind them. Pick and choose from The Branded Content Project success stories and pocket new ideas that will work in every city, for every organization. (sponsored by Social News Desk)


  • The AFRO American – Lenora Howze, director of advertising, Vetta Ridgeway, independent sales consultant
  • Lamb Consulting – Peter Lamb, president
  • Wundervue – Jared Merves, founder

Friday, Aug. 14:

11:00 a.m. Roundtables

Look Globally – Deploy Locally

Matthew Ipsan


Kirstin DiChiappari



Insights from customer-driven non-media brands, particularly around consolidating siloed efforts and pivoting away from channel-focused behaviors. We’ll talk top line and bottom line — increasing engagement and gaining efficiencies. In addition, hear directly from Ashley Montroy, EVP Marketing, Tribute Technology.

Hosted by Kirsten DiChiappari, VP, US customer success, BlueVenn and Matthew Ipsan, business development, AdPerfect

Leveraging Digital Marketing Services to Help Your Advertisers Recover from COVID-19

Shannon Kinney


As we saw in the 2008-2009 recession, SMBs did NOT return their advertising budgets to where they were before, which hurt traditional media. Rather, the experimented with a wide variety of digital options, trying to find high ROI with low dollar investments. As business owners struggle with the unknowns of the pandemic and the challenging “new economy” they will be turning more than ever to digital outlets, and in some cases trying to do it themselves. In our Roundtable, we’ll discuss the importance of deepening your relationships with your local businesses now – and how to help them survive and thrive!

Hosted by Shannon Kinney, founder, client success officer, Dream Local Digital

“Easy Button” Revenue: How VRM Drives New, Immediate Revenue From Subscriptions to Adblock Recovery



Most publishers rely on traditional ad or subscription silos to generate the majority of their revenue. But there’s much more publishers can do to immediately increase Average Revenue Per Visitor (ARPV) across the full visitor journey. Admiral leads a roundtable discussion on how top publishers cultivate relationships with their visitors to optimize existing or create new revenue streams.

Moderated by Michael Yeon, VP of sales and marketing, Admiral and Trevor Abbott, director, business development, Admiral

12:00 p.m. What all local media can learn from Facebook and Instagram Black press trends in 2020 



Emilie Lutostanski


With data from CrowdTangle, this session explores trends from Black press Facebook and Instagram pages from May to July. We review how audiences are interacting with posts and consuming local news from Black-owned newspapers and media organizations, including examples of page-growth rates soaring midsummer and highlights of overperforming content. Also in this session, hear perspectives from The Atlanta Voice about engagement and their powerful reporting shared widely on social media. All local media organizations can glean insights about their own posting strategies by understanding trends in the Black press, and what resonates with their audiences, backed with compelling data.

Presenters: Samantha Bennet, CrowdTangle; Marshall Latimore, editor in chief, The Atlanta Voice. Moderated by Emilie Lutostanski, director, Local News Resource Center


1:30 p.m. Roundtables

Leveraging Social Audiences to Create a Better Obituary

Join Sally Steed, SVP of Advertising at The Salt Lake City Tribune, and Mary Hoffman, Director of Classified at The Chicago Sun-Times, as they share their success stories about a new and exciting approach they have taken to transition print obituaries into digital brand ambassadors with expanded revenue opportunities. Today, your readers often first discover who’s recently passed and send condolences in their local Facebook feed or other social networks. This turns social media into an exciting, low-to-no-cost tool that every publication can use to engage current readers, attract new ones, and discover new revenue sources. Sally and Mary will share their experiences with iPublish’s Facebook solution, AdPortal Targeted Obits and Legacy’s use of audience categories to extend both the reach and longevity of a person’s obituary.

Hosted by Brian Gorman, executive vice president, chief revenue officer, iPublish Media Solutions and Kim Vander Velde, SVP newspaper affiliate partnerships, Legacy.com

John Hoeft



Sales Process Automation and Retention: Doing more with less

What are the components of a successful sales process and what portions can be automated without sacrificing customer service and trusted relationships?  Let’s discuss best practices and common pitfalls for lead generation, proposal creation and retention.

Hosted by John Hoeft, vp, strategic partnerships, NinjaCat and Quique Nagle, CEO and Co-Founder, Advisr
Daryl Hively



Leveraging the Virtual Trade Show Opportunity

Guarantee Digital will lead a discussion on the opportunities for recovering revenue from cancelled events, including Home & Garden, Auto, Job Fairs, Prep Sports Award Shows and more.

Hosted by Daryl Hively, Guarantee Digital


Thank you to our coffee sponsor Legacy.com

Your Readers Need You More than Ever. The Coffee’s On Us. We know how hard our local media partners are working to keep their communities connected and safe. To thank you, we’re giving away 10 free $5 Starbucks gift cards each day of the conference. Click here to enter the drawing.

Thanks to our Gold Sponsors
Facebook Journalism Project


Learn more about all of our sponsors here.

Sponsorship opportunities

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


LMA Digital Summit Week registration is FREE for LMA local media company and R&D members.

Registration Rates:
Associate Members: $195
Non LMA Members: $295

If you are a LION, INN or Illinois Press Association member, please contact Lindsey Estes at Lindsey.estes@nulllocalmedia.org for a code to register.


Having trouble registering?
Contact Lindsey Estes for help.