The best and brightest minds in the media industry will converge Feb. 23-25 at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Florida as part of the 2017 Key Executive Mega-Conference. The theme of this year’s conference, which expects to draw more than 700 attendees, is “Innovation & Insight: The Business of Publishing News.” The annual conference is co-sponsored jointly by the Inland Press Association, Local Media Association and the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association.
“What distinguishes this conference from so many others is that many of the attendees have ultimate responsibility for the financial success of their companies as CEOs, owners, publishers or key executives,” said Carol Hudler, conference program coordinator. “They care deeply about the journalism, but know intrinsically that all journalistic efforts will be futile if they do not carve out a path for a successful and sustainable business. Innovation is needed to do that.”
The conference kicks off Thursday morning, Feb. 23, with a special bonus workshop on native advertising led by Ryan Stephens of Deseret Digital Media, who will discuss the growing importance of the revenue source for publishers. Over the course of the three-day event, attendees can expect to hear from established figures in the industry forging new paths, as well as renegades carving out business models for themselves.
“There once was a time when everybody had the same strategy in this business, but that just no longer is the case,” Hudler said. “So we make sure we have a diversity of strategic approaches represented.”
At Thursday’s general session, Gannett CEO Bob Dickey and some of his senior managers will share the company’s outlook on the business and its business strategy moving forward. The following day, guests can choose to attend from several different breakout session options in the morning and afternoon.
Hudler recommends not to miss the afternoon’s “Pathway to Freedom” session, which will have a pair of CEOs of private newspaper companies—Mike Gugliotto of Pioneer Media Group and John Rung of Shaw Media—reviewing the approaches to consider and metrics to watch when publishers are looking to reduce the print frequency of seven-day publications.
Hudler said she and her team decided for the first time to make the focus of the conference’s final day about improving top-line revenue. On Feb. 25, Kim Ward, director of training and development for Learning Outsource Group, will share insights into the changing media sales landscape. As a perk, the first 100 attendees at Ward’s session will also receive a complimentary copy of his latest book, “The New Selling IQ-Cooperation Selling.”
“Kim and his team help companies improve their sales organization’s ‘win rates,’” Hudler said. “Media companies will be able to send their revenue leaders in greater numbers for some top-notch professional development to this day at a bargain rate, without having to obliterate their entire sales management team by making them miss the rest of the work week.”
Ultimately, Hudler hopes attendees walk away from this year’s conference with new ideas, connections and conversations.
“Any one of these could turn into something big and make a lasting impact on the future of their business. Seldom does a webinar or newsletter give you that same opportunity or impact,” she said. “That’s why we have the Mega-Conference.”