By Sarah Billingsley, AWN Communications Director
There is never a dull moment in the alt weekly industry, and 2011 proved to be no exception. It was another roller coaster year in all areas. As many newspaper publishers are aware, the great recession has made for a challenging sales scenario for print advertising. It appears even more challenging than in years past, but we have kept our game-face on and tried to enjoy the ride just the same.
AWN hosted our first sales webinar with the goal of increasing awareness and sales accountability for alt weeklies. Nearly 20 AWN sellers participated in the webinar. Additional AAN digital sales webinars were also available in the first half of 2011.
Mark and Sarah were left in the dust by fellow Alt weekly partiers in New Orleans (eh hem … Willamette Week and Santa Fe Reporter, etc.) at the AAN Convention. AAN approved a name change for the Association after 30+ years, dropping the “weekly” seemed appropriate now that web-only members and non-weeklies were part of the group.
We created a new sales deck for AWN (customized for numerous sales categories) and presented RFP information to more prospective clients than the previous six months. There were some new AWN sellers on board in September-October, making some fresh calls on agencies and potential clients. combined.
AWN leaders have been working together with HanzMediaInc in Sacramento to create several new marketing initiatives and branding opportunities to take to market. One of those is NewCity’s regular e-blast newsletters highlighting “the Alts.”
After the surprising uptick AWN experienced in 2010, this year was notably disappointing, but the roller coaster ride is far from over. The sales challenges have made us stronger and more determined. We are strategizing, and sharing information, and cheering each other on as we face a changing and uncertain print advertising future. We are lowering the safety bar and asking, “Can we go again?” “Yes” is the answer because we know it is worth it.