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North Carolina Better Newspaper Contest judges needed Guest Commentary:

What would media companies look like if sales leaders reinvented the business model?

Ar k ansas

ARKANSAS

Publisher Weekly

PRESS ASSOCIATION

Vol. 14 | No. 42 | Thursday, October 17, 2019

Serving Press and State Since 1873

New Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ad director puts customers first To measure Beth Johnson’s success, it’s more important to look at someone else’s profitability than her own.

“I wake up, look in the mirror and tell myself I’m going to help put someone’s kid through college and it’s probably not mine,” Johnson said. “The whole goal of (advertising sales) is to be an extension of their business.” Johnson discovered her desire to help businesses reach their potential while serving as editor of her high school yearbook in the Joplin, Missouri, suburb of Carl Junction. It was her responsibility to sell yearbook ads and she sold them out. At that point, she recognized she had a knack for selling advertising.

Beth Johnson

Johnson, the director of advertising and marketing for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, isn’t content to just make the sale and reap the commission. She said her successful two-decade career in advertising sales has largely centered on doing everything she can to benefit her customer.

Johnson has been the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s advertising director since July. Before that, she was a real estate ad specialist for that newspaper. She previously worked at the Joplin Globe as an advertising executive and display advertising manager. She recently relocated to Centerton, where she joined a growing number of newcomers to northwest Arkansas. The dramatic changes not just in the industry

but in the growth of the region is another reason Johnson is excited about her new role. “It’s a fantastic market, absolutely,” she said. “There are about 37 people moving into the northwest Arkansas area every day. It’s just a great market.” She and her 13-member team capitalize on that growth through building relationships with new customers and maintaining the existing ones, she said. It’s those relationships that keep her in the newspaper advertising industry, and she encourages others in the field to develop strong, professional relationships with customers. “I think it all comes down to the relationship building, understanding the business and what they do,” Johnson said. “That was the exciting part for me. I wanted to understand the business and how to make their ads most effective. It has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with that customer’s business.” Continued on Page 2

Room deadline for ArkLaMiss conference approaches Registrants for this year’s annual ArkLaMiss Circulation, Marketing and Audience Development Conference are reminded to book their rooms now. The deadline to reserve a room at the special conference rate of $74 per night is Thursday, Oct. 24. The conference is held at the Ameristar Hotel and Casino in Vicksburg, Mississippi, on Nov. 7-8. To reserve a room, call (601)

638-1000 and mention code “SPAPER9.”

To register for the conference, visit arkansaspress.org/2019Arklamiss. The Arkansas Newspaper Foundation offers a grant to up to four APA members to defray registration and hotel costs. For more information or to apply for one of the $200 grants, click the registration link or contact the APA’s Terri Cobb at terri@ arkansaspress.org.

This year’s featured speaker is Gwen Vargo, director of reader revenue for the American Press Institute. Vargo will present in two sessions about how to understand types of readers and how to encourage them to subscribe. The event includes a roundtable for newspaper publishers and the always-popular Hot Ideas Exchange moderated by Dennis Dunn, vice president of operations for the Anniston Star in Anniston, Alabama.


North Carolina Better Newspaper Contest judges needed Arkansas Press Association members have the opportunity to review some of the best work from their counterparts in another state by volunteering to judge the North Carolina Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest. The judging opportunity is part of a reciprocal agreement with the North Carolina association. Its members judged the APA contest earlier this year. Journalists, photographers, advertising representatives and designers are all encouraged to help judge entries. Judging will take place in November and the process is entirely online. APA members and associate members may volunteer to judge. To sign up, visit www.arkansaspress.org/event/ SignupJudges or contact Terri Cobb at (501) 374-1500 or terri@arkansaspress. org.

New Northwest Arkansas DemocratGazette ad director puts customers first Continued from Page 1

Johnson recently has pushed for advertisers to combine digital advertising with their print buys. As the newspaper industry incorporates more and more of a digital presence, Johnson said she believes now is the best time for advertisers to capitalize on the features of both print and digital advertising. “I think clients appreciate the options,” she said. “We are being innovative and moving with the times.” The menu of digital items for Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette customers includes sponsorships of podcasts produced by the newspaper or OTT (over-the-top) video ads that play before or during video news on the newspaper’s website. “Obviously, when I started in newspapers, there really wasn’t any digital that went with it. Over the years, there’s really been a shift in how people are receiving their news, and you’re getting the best of both

worlds right now,” Johnson said. “We’re in a really good place right now in advertising because of both print and digital options.” Johnson said she got her newspaper start at the Joplin Globe while she was a senior in high school. She sold subscriptions by phone. Two weeks in, she decided that the script she was told to use wasn’t working, so she scrapped it and replaced it with one she wrote for herself. After growing her sales, her co-workers wanted to use her script. She went to become circulation manager at that newspaper before moving to ad sales. She spent time handling driver recruitment ads for trucking publications in Alabama and in central Arkansas before returning to the Globe. In that time, Johnson said that she, like almost everyone else in the sales business, has been disappointed when she hasn’t met certain sales goals, but that “my philosophy on ‘no’ is just ‘not right now.’”

Industry Quote of the Week

mark your calendar

“We all have our likes and our dislikes. But... when we’re doing news-when we’re doing the front-page news, not the back page, not the op-ed pages, but when we’re doing the daily news, covering politics-it is our duty to be sure that we do not permit our prejudices to show. That is simply basic journalism.”

APA Advertising Conference Winthrop Rockefeller Institute Petit Jean Mountain

March 12 & 13, 2020

-Walter Cronkite Arkansas Publisher Weekly

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October 17, 2019


Sun-Times drops Friday edition The Heber Springs Sun-Times announced to readers recently that it was ending its Friday publication and will publish only on Wednesdays. The newspaper was recently purchased by Paxton Media Group, which also has relocated the Heber Springs office. The newspaper, in its announcement, said the weekly edition will continue uninterrupted. Any features and inserts, like the weekly TV guide, will be published with the Wednesday newspaper.

mark your calendar APA will be closed on Thursday , Nov. 28 and Friday, Nov. 29 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Southwest Arkansas newspaper celebrates first anniversary The Hope-Prescott News, a newspaper established in October 2018 after the closure of the Hope Star and the Nevada County Picayune, is celebrating its first anniversary. With a year of continuous publishing by the newspaper, the publication is now considered a legal newspaper under state law so that public notices may be printed in the newspaper.

of radio advertising sales experience. Both men believed the communities of Hope and Prescott needed a viable print product after the two other newspapers closed. The first edition was published Oct. 4, 2018, with a 1,000-copy press run. According to the publishers, they now publish a 12-page per week newspaper with a press run of 2,500.

The Hope-Prescott News was established by Hope businessmen Wendell Hoover and Mark Keith. Hoover owns the website HopePrescott.com and Keith had 36 years

The community came together last week to recognize the first anniversary of the newspaper with a one-year anniversary celebration at a local bank.

Camden News taps Slinkard as new editor The Camden News has named Caleb Slinkard as its new editor. Slinkard, who started working at the News’s sister publication, the El Dorado News-Times, earlier this year, will become regional editor for both newspapers.

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Arkansas Publisher Weekly

@ARPressAssoc

A Texas native, Slinkard studided journalism and political science at Texas A&M University-Commerce. He worked at the university’s newspaper and hosted a radio sow on the local NPR affiliate, and then he began work as a page designer for the Greenville HeraldBanner in Greenville, Texas. He was that newspaper’s editor-in-chief until 2015, when he moved to Norman, Oklahoma, and was named executive editor of the Norman Transcript. According to the newspaper’s report, Slinkard said community newspapers should be “the soul of a city.”

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to the things I am trying to do here, so I’m really excited. I’m looking forward to bringing quality community news and helping to strengthen journalism throughout the region.”

Caleb Slinkard

Slinkard replaces editor Tammy Frazier at Camden. He was named managing editor of the El Dorado newspaper in July. “I have really found Arkansas to be opening and welcoming,” Slinkard said in the newspaper’s announcement of his promotion. “Everyone is really receptive 3

“Everybody pulls from community news; the stories all start here,” he stated. “We tell stories nobody else tells; we cover things nobody else is going to cover, and they’re important things, important stories to tell – accomplishments, holding people in power accountable … Our whole system of government is based on this concept that an informed and engaged constituency can elect people to make decisions for themselves and newspapers are a cornerstone of that.” October 17, 2019


Support the future of Arkansas journalism by giving to the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation. Your generous donations will ensure the continued funding for the next generation of Arkansas journalists. Ways to give: Estate planning, memorial and honor gifts and charitable donations. The Arkansas Newspaper Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information call APA at 501-374-1500 or email info@arkansaspress.org


Guest Commentary:

What would media companies look like if sales leaders reinvented the business model?

The following commentary is reprinted from Editor and Publisher. Twenty years ago, the news publishing world looked a lot different than it does today. Newspapers were still the main source of information for many consumers, and they had more cash flow and more people working in their newsrooms. Yet, presently, these same newspapers find themselves trying to do more with less, especially when it comes to generating revenue. But knowing what we know now when it comes to sales and advertising, what would and what should newspapers do differently? Editor & Publisher decided to find out by asking two newspaper sales executives and two sales consultants to look back at yesterday’s sales model and build one for today’s world. If you had to start a sales model from scratch today, what would it look like? Nick Johnson (McClatchy head of advertising): Digital first, consultative sellers that understand the entire continuum of the marketing funnel. Today’s sellers need to build solutions for critical minded and KPI driven marketers. From branded content to private marketplace programmatic solutions, a contemporary salesperson needs to represent the breadth of solutions available today. The team must be empowered to course correct with optimizations and the confidence to make recommendations, bold and subtle, to ensure success. Finally, sophisticated sales marketers that can present materials that make the complex simple and in formats that are nimble and nonlinear so sellers can respond to needs and curveballs in real time. Gary C. Valik (Johnson Newspaper Corp. (Watertown, N.Y.) vice president of sales and marketing): The sales model that we are basically redeveloping is one that features teams,

total audiences and the importance of content. Moving away from top down structures to working group structures in which team leaders include coworkers from all sides of the company. This approach allows us to leverage all assets from traditional print product to new digital solutions, delivery assets and content provision for clients and audience. Flattening out the organization provides for re-allocation of funds to hire the diverse talents that are needed in today’s sales environment. Ryan Dohrn (Brain Swell Media founder): I would create a model with a detailed focus on a team approach to selling—matching traditional sales experts with experts in other areas. There is an arrogance in sales that limits the larger sale because reps are overly protective of the client conversations. It is just human nature that an account executive (AE) will sell more of what they know well. If an AE is a digital expert, they might miss events. If the AE loves print, they often leave digital money on the table. Team selling often boosts total sales by 20 to 30 percent. Janet DeGeorge (Classified Executive Training sales trainer and consultant): I worked at the San Jose Mercury News the first 13 years of my career back in 1980. It was a by-the-book classified department that ran like clockwork. We had sales specialists in each category; we had detailed numbers to guide us by the day, by the year and by the category. As managers, we had MBO’s and Management by Objective, so the entire advertising department was on the same page. We had great communication from the top down and the bottom up with regular team meetings, and yes, celebrations. For the last 20 years, I have

been a sales trainer who has been on site to more than 350 newspapers, I have seen it all, what works, what doesn’t. I rarely found the structures in place to give each sales rep the tools, the training and structure to be successful. If you don’t invest in sales staff, the big money just doesn’t show up. Five years ago, my biggest concern was____. Today it’s ____. Johnson: Five years ago, my biggest concern was moving video and sponsorships. Today it’s delivering the right mix of solutions to deliver successful client outcomes. Valik: Five years ago, my biggest concern was the shrinking print audience. Now I realize that yes, print will shrink, however there still remains an audience willing to purchase print and willing to purchase at a price that has made up for some lost advertising. That product is becoming more subscriber-funded and there is elasticity on the price. Today, my biggest concern is the money leaving local markets from local advertisers to worldwide companies, namely Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple. Dohrn: Five years ago, my biggest concern was the love fest advertisers had with click-thru rates. Today it’s GDPR rolling out in the U.S. Personal data rights will become a political issue that will change the landscape of digital advertising and media forever. Media companies, that have heavily leveraged revenues on behavioral targeting and programmatic, need to pay attention. DeGeorge: Five years ago, my biggest concern was lack of classified ads in each paper due to the recession. Today, it’s the lack of salespeople to do the job right. Most papers are trying to have two sales reps do what they use to have five or 10 reps do. That math will never work no matter how efficient your processes are. With more services now being offered, how are you educating and training your staff? Johnson: We are very fortunate to have a Continued to Page 6

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Guest Commentary Continued from Page 5

training facility and program at McClatchy. We have a dedicated team focused on sales enablement and we make sure to bring our new colleagues through a formal, weeklong training program that focuses on CRM expectations and use, consultative selling, role playing sales scenarios and an overarching sales methodology geared towards driving sales outcomes. Furthermore, we use this same team to stand up our digital acumen across critical product lines—branded content, video, OTT and excelerate, our full service agency—and make sure to train them on all of the capabilities and use cases of all of our offerings. Valik: We have weekly meetings and countless refresher courses on our various platforms and in-house products. We lean on our vendors with weekly calls and product overviews. In addition, the creation of team leaders has taken on the duties of championing specific products and their unique attributes. Training and educating is a constant and a weekly reality. Dohrn: We watch webinars as a team. We listen to podcasts and then discuss as a team. We do not read general sales books as media sales are very different than selling most things. We read motivational business books as a team and discuss. Ongoing training is mission-critical. As a media sales trainer and advisor, I see the best teams train their teams monthly. Training is not as much about motivation as it is about execution. DeGeorge: There is a hand full of online and retail sales trainers out there for hire. I’m one of the few left in the classified arena. With that said there is so much self training via webinar and through associations. Many times vendors of products will provide sales training, but that often results in selling what makes the vendor the most money, not the newspaper. That is their job. What skills do today’s sales staff need in order to succeed? Johnson: Honestly, the first thing I look for is intellectual curiosity. I want people that are self-motivated to learn about what’s happening in this amazing industry. I want them to try new products and apps,

ask questions and be as motivated as I am to continue to evolve our business and optimize our chances to exceed our client’s goals and our business objectives. Valik: Today’s sales staffs need to be creative. They need to hear the needs and wants of their customers and design effective, unique and inventive sales solutions. The sales teams are now competing against TV sales, radio sales, agencies and internal staffs all selling the same digital solutions. The sales teams of today need to think how their relationships, their unique position in the market, can “win” digital monies and expand on them with unique print and delivery products only our papers are equipped with. They need to create their unique selling proposition. Dohrn: The best AEs will guide their advertisers to reality and not a budget. An advertiser’s budget is almost always inaccurate. I like to ask advertisers if they want to be present, competitive or dominant. The reality of marketing is that there are typically three levels of marketing spend. Then, I sell based on comparing the advertiser to others that are successful in their market. I love consultative selling as long as it does not occur in the client’s vacuum. Comparative selling, when married with consultative selling, almost always yields better results. DeGeorge: A full understanding of online products is a must. No sales rep should sit around and wait for that training because easy Google searches will bring up all the information you need about online advertising. All reps should be fully trained and aware of all products available from the paper to fit a customer’s needs. Often there are still so many silos of information dividing up who knows what. Inside reps should be aware and able to sell any online products available. What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career so far, and how did you solve it? Johnson: I was trapped in the cycle of current experience. I was an agency guy—actually a network buyer—and that’s not what I wanted to be. It was the first job I took to get my foot in the door and that job informed many that followed.

I had to break the cycle. I was both lucky and deliberate in breaking that chain. I discovered digital in the 90s, and I fell in love. I decided to pursue a career in that area and was fortunate enough to land a job that I enjoyed and had me running to the office every morning. A couple of decades later, I’m still loving it and still running in. Valik: I am currently in the biggest challenge in my career. I believe if you are progressing in your career you are always up for a “bigger and better” fight. This transitional period we are in— between traditional media and tomorrow’s media—presents challenges in being able to adapt, make decisions, accept failure and try again. In addition the challenge is making sure your entire team is quick, adaptive and able to apply risk. In the past, I have been able to move past challenges by accepting failure and rolling up my sleeves to take on the task again. That is how I will get through this current challenge. Dohrn: Getting sales executives to break old habits is my biggest challenge. Even when I show proof of a better outcome, it is just easier to accept the status quo as good enough and do it the old way. For me to win in this situation, you have to pick your battles and change small things one at a time. Pick one area you want the rep to change and work hard at that one area. Set accountability metrics in place. Provide motivation. Measure success. Celebrate if deserved. Provide motivation if needed. Be fair and firm if needed. DeGeorge: As a sales trainer and consultant, there was just not enough time to travel and work with newspapers for the length of time necessary. Switching to all webinar/Skype training gives me the ability to spend weeks and even months with a newspaper, redesigning their product, their rates, and their sales goals. Technology has really made it all like being there and I can help several newspapers at the same time. What was the biggest risk you took in your organization when it came to sales? How did it go, and would you do it again? Johnson: We had to rebuild our sales Continued to Page 7

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Guest Commentary Continued from Page 6

structure from a very traditional print structure to a contemporary digital one. I was fortunate that the company was already moving in the right direction—in steps—but we rolled it out to a team that had been through a lot of change and this was a lot bigger. So we tried hard to be very transparent including leadership visits to our key markets so we could talk to our teams about the objectives of the changes and our rationale and I think that was very helpful. Overall, we’re pleased with the structure and it points us in a direction where communication is cleaner, there are fewer layers and less confusion about roles and functions. But, it’s an evolution and we still have a lot of work to do. But would I do it again, just faster. Valik: Again, I am currently experimenting with my biggest risk. That would be flattening the traditional director-managersales rep model and going into the team leader roles. I am investing money spent on traditional office roles and investing them into the field. I have learned that in today’s sales environment I need to invest in the “facing” staff and empower them to make quick, critical decisions without the layers of management. Currently, I am

Arkansas Publisher Weekly

encouraged by the performance of the teams. Dohrn: We began trading accounts every quarter. Every three months, an AE is required to bring 10 quality accounts to the table that they have worked very hard for. Like the NFL, we allow the lowest-performing rep to pick accounts first. Trading accounts has been crazy successful. Make it a fun exercise. DeGeorge: When I was the classified director at the East Valley Tribune, we made tremendous changes when Cox, who owned it for 20 years, sold it to Thompson newspapers. It was like time travel—we moved ahead so quickly changing to fully functional sales teams. Each team had their own sales support and artist who became more and more familiar with accounts which fed more creative advertising. What are your priorities for 2020? Johnson: Double digit digital growth. Win big in political. Hire great people. Crush the number. Valik: Making revenue goals and achieving budget. To support these

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goals, I am putting time and emphasis on developing creativity, decision making and leadership within my teams. When you achieve financially, you can then enact plans to grow your brand, train staff and invest in the future. Dohrn: First, using Zoom or GoToMeeting on every call is a priority. Adding visuals to the sales meeting is critical. Second, we are removing the standard sales questions like “What advertising has worked for you in the past?” and replacing that with questions like “If I could bring you one perfect client, what does that client look like?” Third, we are taking our CRM skills to the next level. We are using Magazine Manager and creating hyper-focused Top 20 lists in the CRM. We are then creating time blocks to attack those lists. DeGeorge: Recently, I have been working with many small papers and weeklies who could not afford my service when I traveled onsite. Now they are my world and I love them. It is ultra rewarding to see their classifieds come back to life and the new revenue really makes a huge difference to these size papers. I would hope I am lucky enough to continue working with them in 2020.

October 17, 2019


ArkLaMiss CIRCULATION & MARKETING CONFERENCE Circulation & Audience Growth

ArkLaMiss Circulation & Marketing Conference

2019 Conference Agenda Nov. 7-8, 2019 | Vicksburg, Mississippi


ArkLaMiss Circulation & Marketing Conference

ArkLaMiss CIRCULATION & MARKETING CONFERENCE Circulation & Audience Growth

2019 Conference Agenda Thursday, November 7, 2019 8:30 AM 9:00 AM

Registration opens Publishers Roundtable Discussions Tips on newspaper management, revenue, expense controls, marketing & more

NOON 1:00 PM 1:15 PM

Lunch available in Heritage Buffet Welcome & opening remarks General Session: How to understand reader types and drive each type to subscribe

2:30 PM 3:00 PM

Break with Schermerhorn Bros. Co. General Session cont’d.: How to understand reader types and drive each type to subscribe

4:30 PM 5:30 PM 6:30 PM

Presented by Gwen Vargo, Director of Reader Revenue, American Press Institute The path from a casual reader to a paying subscriber isn’t a short one, but by understanding how audiences get from one place to another, you can begin to devise strategies to get more readers to complete that journey.

Presented by Gwen Vargo, Director of Reader Revenue, American Press Institute

Break for hotel check-ins Hospitality Hour with vendors Dinner on your own

Friday, November 8, 2019 8:00 AM 8:30 AM

Buffet breakfast Hot Ideas Exchange

9:30 AM 10:00 AM

Break Panel Discussion

11:00 AM

Open Mic & Wrap-up

Share your best ideas for success on revenue generation, expense controls, promotions marketing & more.

Hear cutting edge advice from marketing circulation & audience development directors from newpapers in Arkansas & Mississippi.


ArkLaMiss Circulation & Marketing Conference

ArkLaMiss CIRCULATION & MARKETING CONFERENCE Circulation & Audience Growth

Guest Speakers Gwen Vargo Gwen Vargo is Director of Reader Revenue for American Press Institute (API), where she works to support and accelerate the growth of subscriptions and user revenue at U.S. news organizations. She works directly with API’s partner news organizations to understand the path audiences take to subscription; gathers and spreads best practices; leads research efforts; and helps API’s partners develop innovative approaches to generating subscriptions through understanding audience data, marketing, communication, and content. Gwen specializes in helping media companies develop new models for user revenue, drawing on lessons she has learned over more than 25 years in audience development and marketing. Prior to API, she was at The Chronicle of Higher Education where she led cross functional team that included marketing, sales, circulation and market research and worked to develop sustainable revenue models for an array of digital products, including webinars, customized data, and events. While at Atlantic Media Company, Gwen oversaw marketing, sales, and client services for National Journal Group, and played a key leadership role in the strategic relaunch of the National Journal Group’s products and website. Previously, she managed marketing and operations efforts at organizations such as Euromoney Institutional Investor, PRIMEDIA, and American Lawyer Media.

Dennis Dunn Dennis Dunn is vice president of operations at the Anniston (AL) Star. He has been at The Star since 1997. He is responsible for printing, packaging and circulation for the Star, the Talladega Daily Home, the Cleburne News, the St. Clair Times and the the News Journal. He is a past president of the Southern Circulation Managers Association (2005). He began his career in 1979 at the Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer before moving to Anniston. Dennis has been involved in the Anniston Lions Clubs, the Anniston Runners Club, The Boys and Girls Clubs and the Opportunity Center. He is a graduate of Auburn University (1978). He is married to Debra and they have two daughters and three grandchildren.


ArkLaMiss

ArkLaMiss

CIRCULATION & MARKETING CONFERENCE

Circulation & Marketing Conference

Circulation & Audience Growth

2019 REGISTRATION PLEASE PRINT CLEARLY:

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Fax:

Name: Check all that apply:

Email: [ ] Conference ($109)

[ ] Newspaper Management Roundtable (No Charge)

Name: Check all that apply:

Email: [ ] Conference ($109)

[ ] Newspaper Management Roundtable (No Charge)

Name: Check all that apply:

Email: [ ] Conference ($109)

[ ] Newspaper Management Roundtable (No Charge)

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Deadline to Register: November 1, 2019 Return Form and Payment to: ArkLaMiss/APA, 411 S. Victory, Little Rock, AR 72201 or fax to (501) 374-7509 Questions? Call Terri Cobb at (501) 374-1500, 1-800-569-8762 or email to terri@arkansaspress.org

Ameristar Casion & Hotel, Vicksburg MS Call 601-638-1000 and Reference “SPAPER9” | Room Rate $74 Deadline: October 24, 2019

Profile for Arkansas Press Association

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: October 17, 2019  

The Arkansas Publisher Weekly is the only direct source for late-breaking news regarding Arkansas' newspapers and related industries. Publis...

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: October 17, 2019  

The Arkansas Publisher Weekly is the only direct source for late-breaking news regarding Arkansas' newspapers and related industries. Publis...