Best Training Program - The Daily Collegian â€“ Penn State University Overview: The Daily Collegian has been at Penn State for 127 years and publishes five days a week, about12, 000 copies a day. We are an independent student-run newspaper that does not receive any funding from the University (Penn State does buy a large subscription that allows the students to get the paper for free, but we pay almost equivalent rent for our space). Eighty-five percent of our $1.7 million budget comes from advertising. We have approximately 85 students on the business side of the paper and because we are an independent paper, our staff members do not receive academic credit for their work here. Students join to better themselves, and consequently we get a motivated group of people who want to be successful and who want to continue the success of the paper. Goals: We have two primary goals during the course of our training program. The first goal is to give the students a professional, confidence-building experience that will lead to success in whatever field they enter. The second goal is for our staff members to use the training to consult successfully with clients, ultimately delivering Penn Stateâ€™s 42,000 students to their businesses.
Training: The Process Informational Sessions: After campus-wide recruiting, we hold at least two informational sessions early each fall, spring and summer semester for students interested in becoming involved with The Daily Collegian Business Division. To promote this we place house advertisements in our paper, flier student mailboxes, and send information out on college listservs. We recruit based upon the demand for new staff members; this depends on graduation, co-ops, or study abroad of current staff members. All of our five departments recruit every semester: Sales, Business Operations, Creative, Promotions and Layout. Interview Process: During the Informational Sessions prospective trainees fill out applications for their desired department. This allows the department managers to get an understanding of the applicants and to determine what level of experience they might have. Throughout the following week all of the managers interview every applicant. Finally the Board of Managers comes together to decide the best applicants for each department. Business Advisor Candy Heckard sends out an acceptance email that evening. We inform every applicant of the decision on the training class. The training program starts the following Monday, and continues for the remainder of the semester. Selection and Training: Training covers all aspects of our business operation. While many college newspaper training programs are only a week or two long, we believe a semester of training is crucial to the success and retention of our trainees. This gives them the opportunity to assimilate to the fast-paced environment of our office, as well as the time to develop skills in their chosen area. In fall 2013 we trained 13 account executives, 3 business operations reps, 2 layout reps, 2 promotions reps and 6 creative specialists for positions to begin in January 2014. In the year 2013 as a whole, we trained a total of 54 students. Training lasts for ten weeks, with twice a week sessions. We also require three one-hour office periods a week for hands-on training. We do not sugarcoat the time commitment during recruiting, and by the end of training we have a very committed staff with a low turnover rate. 1
Range of subjects covered: Product knowledge Effective use of marketing information Advertising sales Selling Color Customer Service skills Dealing with difficult clients Creative ad design Role playing Selling skills Selling sponsorships for various spots Code of Ethics and ad policies
Preparing advertising campaigns Selling multiple products and special promotions Handling National Advertisers Cold calling Selling web and app advertising Working alongside News Closing the sale Adapting our products to different audiences Consulting with the Creative Department on sales calls Selling guaranteed placement
We are constant emphasize how important the trainees are to the future of the paper and encourage them to interview for leadership positions for the following year.
Measuring results: With such an extensive program we must continually measure progress and knowledge retention. Trainees have quizzes ranging from basic Daily Collegian info to calculating complex advertising combo rates. Other more interactive forms of assessing progress include a scavenger hunt team relay and “Collegian Jeopardy.” We also assess our account executives through role-plays at the end of the semester as a way for them to apply the skills they have learned to real selling situations they will likely face. This provides an excellent way for our trainees to gain feedback, as the sales managers are able to critique performances and give notes. The trainees are tested in a department-specific “final” that they must pass in order to be accepted onto the staff. Finally, throughout the semester we have a weekly Trainee of the Week award called SPAM – Super Positive Attitude and Motivation. Results from all these progress measurements are used when assigning clients for the following semester and for advancing trainees into staff positions. Professional standards: One of our primary goals is to instill professional standards into our sales staff members, and this begins at the training level. By stressing ethical business practices, a consultative selling approach, and listening skills, we are helping their professionalism grow, and preparing them for success in future jobs. Throughout training, our incoming staff members are immersed in day-to-day business practices as they shadow their mentor, a current staff member in their selected department. By the time they get on staff, our trainees know they are responsible for attendance, weekly meetings and making quality sales calls. They are also held accountable for their clients (through strict quota monitoring), among other things. Other departments are held to equivalent standards of professionalism. Our alumni network is very strong for a reason; Collegian graduates know the quality of the training program and that our students are ready to enter the workplace running. We are constantly getting calls with job opportunities, and after the practices they have learned through our training program, our staff members are more than prepared to excel in whatever business environment they join. Our basic philosophy – Knowledge and experience = retention and success! We never do the “sink or swim” approach. That’s when people leave and never come back. The confidence and knowledge our program builds is the key to strong sales and continued success for the paper. 2
Fall 2013 Training Schedule Week prior to recruiting: Run half-page color ads every day featuring successful alumni telling how working for Collegian helped them to succeed. Recruiting Week: Wednesday, Sept. 11 and Monday, Sept. 16. Intro meetings at 5:45 p.m. each day Result: Fall 2013 – 75 applicants Interviews – Begin Thursday, Sept.12. List of accepted trainees sent to all applicants on Friday, Sept. 20 at 4 p.m. We should plan a meeting to determine accepted trainees at around 2 p.m. that Friday. All interviews should be completed by 1:30 p.m. Result: Interviewed 75 applicants, accepted 26 trainees. Sales - 13, Business Operations – 3, Creative – 6, Layout – 2, Promotions – 2. By the end of training, we lost 2 trainees and added 24 new people to the staff. Strong training helps retain good people. Training sessions begin: Week of Sept. 23 – Intro Week Monday, Sept. 23 – Board of Managers (BOM) introduction, get schedules, basic rules. Icebreaker. (BOM, Candy) Wednesday, Sept. 25 – Intro publications, types of ads, basics, give out schedules, mentors. (Candy) Trainees must attend all evening sessions and begin three hands-on office hours per week in their departments. Week of Sept. 30 – Policies Week Monday, Sept. 30 - Editor in Chief/Managing Editor, General Manager intro. Pricing and sizing ads, measuring and pricing exercise. (Candy) Wednesday, Oct. 2 – Code of Ethics, Advertising policies (Candy) Because they begin working in their departments right away, they need pricing and policy education first. Week of Oct. 7 – Operations Week Monday, Oct. 7 – Biz Ops Night: forms, classifieds, spec requests, office operations (Biz Ops) Wednesday, Oct. 9 – Split Night: Biz Ops: Forms, procedures. Sales & Promo: Insertion Orders (IOs), color, changes, kills, corrections, etc. Creative: IOs, web insertions, color, spec requests. Layout: Inserting forms into Brainworks. Ppractical applications to enable understanding of the operations of the Business Division. Week of Oct. 14 – Client Relations Week Monday, Oct. 14 – Split Night: Biz Ops: Handling angry clients. Sales: Building Rapport, Objections. Creative: activity with display and web advertising, visiting clients with account executives. Layout: Client relations aspect of Brainworks, how it affects billing, relationship with News. Promo: working with clients on promotions and contests, getting prizes in exchange for advertising, structure and timeline of projects.
Wednesday, Oct. 16 – Island Exile exercise. Identifying leadership ability. We often split into departmental groups (Split Nights) and department managers train their trainee teams on specific aspects of that week’s emphasis.
Week of Oct. 21 – Advertising Sales Week Monday, Oct. 21 – Sales of all types of ads and how they differ. National, national direct, sponsorships, web, Twitter, app. Sales Department Wednesday, Oct. 23 – Split Night: Biz Ops: Activity with display and web advertising, understanding re:Fuel/National advertising, opportunities to develop new advertisers. Sales: Ad plans, including all publications. Creative: design sponsorship ads, web ads, app banners and tiles. Layout: Dummies, Late copy, Waiting for Payment, Looking up things on Brainworks. Promo: Planning contests and events, elements of planning a contest, tweets, Facebook contest procedures and rules, working with clients on contests and participation. Every department has something to do with ad sales even if they’re not actively selling to clients. We make sure everyone recognizes their contribution to this end goal. Week of Oct. 28 – Mid Term - Procedures Monday, Oct. 28 – Review – (department managers) Wednesday, Oct. 30 – Exam of Procedures Yup – we test their knowledge on how to do important things like price ads, fill out forms and relay information correctly to the public. Week of Nov. 4 – Promotions, Layout, Creative Monday, Nov. 4 – Layout and Promotions give presentations Wednesday, Nov. 6 – Creative presentation The smaller departments give presentations of their departments so everyone knows what they do and is familiar with the staff. Week of Nov. 11 – Fun Week! Monday, Nov. 11 – Scavenger Hunt night! Wednesday, Nov. 13 – Jeopardy (prep for final) (Biz Ops) Trainees are teamed up and have to prove their skills and knowledge with fun games. Lots of fighting and prizes! Week of Nov. 18 Monday, Nov. 18 – Final Wednesday, Nov. 20 – Role plays (first night) We give “final” tests to each department to make certain trainees are ready to be on the staff. If you don’t pass, you have to take the test again. Role Plays are for Ad Sales trainees who are given a variety of situations and must role play with their mentors to prove their readiness for real clients. All trainees attend these sessions to observe. Managers critique. Kind of stressful, but reveals areas where we might need to tweak the learning. Week of Dec. 2 Monday, Dec. 2 – Role plays (second night) Wednesday, Dec. 4 – Final re-take for those who need to re-take 4
Flier handed out on campus
Recruiting ad featuring successful alumni