The Forgotten Pillar of Success

News media should invest more in training


Most may have seen this quote by Henry Ford, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” This sums up what I believe regarding training today. Let’s get right to the elephant in the room with this bold statement. While there are exceptions to nearly every rule and statement, our industry as a whole does not do a good job at training and networking.

Many of us will profess the importance of continued training, but when times get tough, it is training and marketing that oftentimes bite the budgetary dust. We have all sorts of reason why this is so, but I submit doing this shows one’s true leadership skills, or shall I say lack of leadership skills. Training and networking are two of the most vital components of sustained success for any company and industry.

Many will say we just don’t have time or can’t be away from the office that long. Bold statement number two: You’re not an efficient leader if you can’t leave or allow others on your staff to be away from the office for a couple days. If that is the case, you aren't managing a cutting-edge organization, you have cut to the core and are simply managing a sweat shop. Great leaders understand the importance of allowing for the constant inflow of new ideas and motivational techniques regardless of the economic conditions. In fact, these are the times new ideas and innovations are most needed. 

COVID certainly put a damper on live events this past year. However, in normal times, regardless of the industry, most are ripe with conferences, live training, and networking opportunities. They understand the real need for these live training and networking opportunities. This is what sparks innovation and new ways of thinking. While live events suffered, don’t buy-in to the elusion virtual events on Zoom are a long-term substitute for training and networking, they are only stop gap, and a poor one at that.

The news media publishing industry continues to shoot itself in the foot to save a few bucks. not stopping to consider the revenue they lose when saving these few bucks. Those few dollars saved are mitigated by the lack of new ideas flowing into the organization. We aren’t just shooting ourselves in the foot; we might as well aim that bullet straight at the heart or brain.

What we fail to realize are the many great things we can accomplish by sending our standouts to a live training conference. When allowing your staff an occasional trip, you are providing training, encouraging networking, showing confidence in your team, boosting moral and so much more—all for a few bucks.

Yes, budgets are tight, and we must be frugal, but there are ways to assure your financial ROI when sending staff to conferences and to be trained.  I am reminded of the “return and report” routine I learned from a great leader years ago. This leader made anyone returning from a conference to formally present the three to five best ideas they gathered at the event to the entire management team. After which, staff members along with the entire management team selected one of those ideas for immediate implementation. In all the years I participated in this process, never did I witness or experience an idea fewer than a 10 times ROI on a training investment. Doing this was a prerequisite for future conference funding. Great leaders find ways to train, motivate and encourage opportunity despite the economic conditions. This leader was a master of that leadership skill.

During non-COVID times, you can judge the vibrancy of any industry by attending their live events. Over the past few years, I have seen our industry live events dwindle in size. When this occurs, it sends the message to the outside world we are an industry limping towards extinction.  Our live industry conferences should be robust briming with excitement. Don’t ever listen or believe it when you hear live events are dead, that is simply an excuse to cover their poor leadership skills. To survive in this industry, we must send a message to the world we are alive and vibrant, not dying as some might like to suggest.

John Newby is the founder of the 360 Media Alliance. He also authors the weekly column, “Building Main Street, not Wall Street,” which focuses on bringing local media and their communities closer together through common synergies and causes to grow revenue. He can be reached at

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