Tag Archives: news & review

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.

Is Tobacco Prohibition Possible in our Lifetime?

By Mark Hanzlik, Executive Director

I was a bit taken back by the headline “Will Cigarettes Be Made Illegal in the Near Future?” a recent post on AlterNet until I thought more seriously about subject.   A likely outcome of positing such a question might be a large number of bloggers talking over the topic but something of that magnitude not be accomplished in my lifetime.

The decline of tobacco smoking has remained on our radar at AWN and also many alternative weeklies who were fed on a healthy diet of Big Tobacco advertising dollars over the past dozen or so years.

Government restrictions on tobacco smoking have become commonplace and the comparisons between tobacco and legal or illegal mind-altering substances have also been at the forefront of the debate.    Tony Newman points out in his aforementioned AlterNet story,  the growing movement toward the criminalization of tobacco and some of the recent developments but is also quick to  identify the difficulties associated with prohibition of such a popular activity, despite its’ deadly track record.

boardwalkempireWatching the critically acclaimed HBO series Boardwalk Empire may give you some insight into what a dramatic sea change might occur in this if prohibition of tobacco was enacted.   The introduction of a new black market and serious level of criminal trafficking and sales would be needed to support the millions of tobacco smokers who have been unable to drop the habit.   During Prohibition, temperance groups and other advocates for prohibition had little success in creating educational campaigns that could make any significant long-term change in the lifestyle and drinking habits of Americans.  Today, an enormous amount of education and marketing have supported the non-smoking platform and successfully reduced smoking in public places in just about every possible place in major cities.

Here’s a slightly-related link to my one of my favorite bands, Yo La Tengo‘s 30-second Non-Smoking track (it’s nothing extraordinary but their heads were in the right place on this educational PSA against smoking-taken from their Yo La Tengo Sell Out web page).

Back in the 1920’s, simple economics were at the root of the problem.  There was very little money and corporate support for making any change, but there remained plenty of coinage on the side of producing and selling an alcohol product (either illegally during Prohibition or legally after 1933).

With all the recent talk about legalizing marijuana, it seems almost foolish to expect the government to clamp down even harder on tobacco and then be able to support the kind of policing that would be required to keep people from being shot on  the street over a pack of cigarettes.   Somehow it just doesn’t seem possible that cigarettes could be banned, but then again maybe people said the same thing about alcohol in 1920.

SnusFull disclosure: A few tobacco brand advertisers currently run ads through AWN mostly via RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. The ad shown on the left ran in late 2010 in a number of alternative weekly publications.   A trend toward smokeless tobacco which we also are seeing in the same pages unfortunately doesn’t skirt by the authorities; snuff, snus, chewing tobacco and other similar products contain the same bad boys as cigarettes.

Also, see an earlier post on these blog pages where one large tobacco brand Camel was represented in a fashion show on several dresses made  by a local designer in Sacramento for the News &Review coming-out-party last May.

Don’t Let the Year Hit You On the Butt on the Way Out

By Mark Hanzlik, AWN Executive Director

This is a time of year that we usually share a recap of the past 12 months of ad sales or review any new developments during the same period. Since we have already been keeping many of you up-to-date throughout the year on this blog site or through our Facebook pages or elsewhere, we’ll keep the recap short and also try to fill-in just a few spaces.

REPORTED EARLIER in these pages:
MARCH ~ HanzMedia crew moves AWN operation into new building with Sacramento News & Review.
MARCH ~ Sales Director John Morrison departs after nearly 13 years, Sarah Billingsley named Communications Director.
MAY ~ Camel tobacco advertising rebounds strongly for AWN and the brand also makes a brief appearance via fashion show at Sacramento News & Review party
JUNE ~ Cody Brill joins the HanzMedia staff as new Advertising Coordinator
JULY ~ AWN members discuss new ad unit sales (sticky notes, cover wraps, front page ads, etc.)
AUGUST ~ A new reality for a number of Alt weekly publishers; Medicinal Marijuana advertising
OCTOBER ~ AWN Executive Committee member and publisher of City Paper Paul Curci announces his departure; David Garland, AWN sales veteran from the previous decade returns to Phoenix Media Group.

NEWS or DEVELOPMENTS not yet shared:
APRIL ~ HanzMedia digital development contracts begin with ACG Media in Torrance, California.
AUGUST ~ HanzMedia contracts with The Media Audit for the first time on behalf of AWN; new additions to the reporting base include web advertising research and a new digital interface.
NOVEMBER ~ AWN sales results this year were much healthier than expected. New advertisers join the list, replacing a number of larger advertisers who were nearly absent in 2010.
NOVEMBER ~ We’ve collected 2011 ad rates from publications, continue to collect ad calendars, events and promotional items for the new year.

DECEMBER ~ Look for a complete recap of 2010 advertising sales next month. HanzMedia’s annual holiday card and video is posted (elsewhere on this site). Happy Holidays and a very Merry New Year!