Tag Archives: National Accounts

Marketing, Sales Push by AWN for Q4

By Sarah Billingsley, Communications Director

As we contemplate the recent assertion ‘print is not dead’ from a report published by www.whoneedsnewspapers.org, we’d like to share some of the current marketing efforts from members of our sales cooperative.    We’re not only checking the pulse of PRINT advertising from national brands and agencies but we’re trying to pump some blood back into the veins before that patient expires.  After all, it’s the final quarter of the year, a time when we often see additional non-local ad dollars surface.

Earlier this month, AWN president Brian Hieggelke (publisher, Newcity and veteran seller in our network) sent a well-crafted e-blast to a good-sized list of advertising contacts (see excerpts from his letter below).   The clever message which took a fresh approach to our greatest advertising success story in our 17-year history was sent to past, current, and prospective advertisers in an effort to spark AWN marketing efforts.   Apparently it’s generated some response already- within a week, he received positive feedback and a several nibbles from advertisers an agencies who may see AWN as a possible marketing channel for their plans.   Here’s some of that letter:

…I wanted to drop you a quick note with an update on our organization, which is rocking its second decade. We’re currently 150+ publications strong, coast to coast in markets from Maine to Hawaii and from Washington to Florida, with a weekly circulation of five million in print and 15 million unique visitors online each month.

AltoidsNov97Our audience of local influencers is a marketer’s dream: educated, engaged, conscious and affluent city dwellers.

Over the last 15 years, we’ve worked with national brands in just about every category: spirits, television, finance, automotive, telecom, you name it, to help establish authentic local relationships with their target consumers.

Altoids is a great example. In the 1990’s, Leo Burnett’s creative team of Steffan Postaer and Mark Faulkner brilliantly seized upon the quirky British phrase “Curiously Strong Mints” and built an edgy, graphic campaign around it. Initially they used two mediums: outdoor, where the poster-like quality could reign magnificently, and alt weeklies, where the trendsetting audiences would shoot product trial and word-of-mouth out of a rocket. Within the decade, Altoids was a billion-dollar brand, and we’d worked closely with its media team all the way to the top.

Got any brands looking to make magic happen? Let us see how The Alts can help with a launch or a “freshening up.” Our capabilities include print, digital and in-market event execution.

In addition to Brian’s efforts, AWN sales representatives across the country are pitching The Alts to a wide variety of national advertisers in a variety of categories. The list includes our standard brand categories (wireless, alcohol, and tobacco) as well as additional categories that can also find a valuable audience within our industry (such as automotive, restaurant chains, political campaigns, and publishing houses).

Also we recently created a more up-to-date, customizable AWN sales deck for sellers within our network to take to market.    If you’d like a copy or are just curious, let us know and we’ll send a copy via email.

As you know, AWN needs active participation from sellers in order to continue to pursue advertising opportunities for the network.   We are spreading the word, and we would love to hear what you have been doing to keep this ball rollin’.   Please copy us on your e-blasts, send us your current AWN claims list, and/or give us a call and tell us how we can help you. We look forward to hearing from you.

New Blood to Start/Keep it Going!

By Sarah Billingsley, AWN Communications Director

People perform better in a world they help create.   At least, that is what I was taught at the Leadership Training for Managers class I took at Dale Carnegie back in the day.

In that spirit, AWN’s cooperative network allows for a collaborative environment in which publications within the network are empowered to sell non-local advertising into world-class alt weekly publications all around the country.    This means that AWN has been successful and can continue to be the same because of the work members put into the process. AWN Central is here to support and facilitate non-local advertising sales by (and in) publications in our network, but you are the experts at selling your product(s).   No one can sell your publications better than each of you. We understand national sales are not always high on your priority list, and we want to make sure we are optimizing our relationship with you.


One idea-generating method is the “Start, Stop, Keep” exercise. The idea is – people who do the work are the ones who know how the work needs to be done.  So, early this year we asked AWN members to fill in the blanks.   “What do you think?  What should AWN start doing, stop doing, keep doing?”

The overwhelming answer was simple – AWN should continue to share information! ? ?With that in mind, we hosted our first AWN sales go-to-webinar on March 10.

We invited a small group of AWN leaders, veteran sellers, and new sellers with multiple ad claims to participate in the meeting (the number somehow grew to nearly 20 participants).

The objectives were two-fold:

1) Increase awareness through information sharing, training and marketing
2) Increase sales accountability for network advertising sales.


There were a number of initiatives and subjects discussed but one of the warmer items that got a number of positive responses was sales incentives for individual AWN sellers, something that has not been done in this network before.

If you would like to view the presentation deck and related documents from the webinar, please email me – sarah@awn.org


An interesting outcome form the sales meeting was the introduction of new players in the AWN selling game. Several new names have popped up on the claims list in the past few months, so we thought we would take a minute to introduce them, and give a little description of the kinds of claims they are working on behalf of the network.

Eileen Pursley, Advertising Director at the Philadelphia City Paper has had a long career in the newspaper industry, including a stint as the Executive Sales Director at Metro Newspaper and Advertising Sales Director at Broad Street publishing. She is pursuing ad accounts such as Gardasil, Comcast, and Tropicana Atlantic City.

Carla Holder is the new National Accounts Manager at the Sacramento News & Review. Carla has an alt weekly background and hails from the Nashville where she sold advertising at the Nashville Scene. Carla is working on accounts several accounts including Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Events & Adventures.

Kelly Christie from Buffalo Artvoice has worked in the business for several years and spends time throughout the year in Buffalo and Florida (guess where she spends winter!). Kelly is calling on a long list of accounts on behalf of the network, including Barnes and Nobles and Black and White (women’s clothes).

Another change in the AWN sales force is the recent departure of long-time AWN seller Mary Samson who left the San Francisco Bay Guardian this week.  New Director of Sales at SFBG Jim Tamietti indicated they are searching for a replacement which means we may have another new seller on our list.

We are excited by the prospect of what can be achieved this year. I believe with the powerful cocktail of veterans and new sellers engaged in the field, we can harness the power of our individual voices and join forces to create a stronger network. We are a like spider web, publications around the country connected by the fiber of our common missions. Individually we may not be able to take down a foe, but connect us, and we have a much better chance of survival. ? ?So, now that we’ve established that our AWN members are the best experts at selling alternative weeklies, tell us what you’re working on and how we can help you, help each other.