MOLLIE POINTER University Daily Kansan
Advertising Manager of the Year Materials CNBAM 2014
LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION Jon Schlitt, Adviser To Whom It May Concern: It is my great pleasure to nominate Mollie Pointer from The University Daily Kansan for the award of Ad Manager of the Year from CNBAM. Mollie began as business manager for The Kansan in the Summer of 2013 in a time of transition. Over 75% of our staff had just graduated in May. Before those staff members left The Kansan had staggered to the finish line for the semester falling below the previous year for 3 straight months. Our organization’s marketing efforts had hit a wall particularly with the branding of our new housing site, Rockchalkliving.com. Therefore it was Mollie’s challenge as a first-time manager to get revenue on the upswing and to jumpstart both the marketing and interest in all of our products. Not only with our readers but with our own staff as well. Her first task was to train virtually an entirely new staff to be account executives. But in addition she had to take a raw and inexperienced group of staff members and fashion them into managers who could lead and motivate this new group of account executives. She conquered these challenges as all great leaders do with both skill and grace. Under her leadership The Kansan bested the previous year’s numbers for 5 straight periods. She revitalized The Kansan’s marketing department through aggressive on-campus efforts such as the Back to School blitz and Thunderbolt Days which not only grabbed the attention of the student body but provided the sales staff enhanced confidence in the products they were selling. She also helped plot a large chunk of The Kansan’s future by marketing Rockchalkliving.com with a brilliant multi-media campaign that featured print and digital but also advertising on lawn signs and campus buses. Oftentimes the merits of a manager can be perhaps unfairly boiled down to the percentage above or below goal when in fact it is the total picture that should be looked at. Mollie as a first-time manager was handed an unenviable task that would of challenged the most experienced managers in the nation. The Kansan and its account executives at the end of the day grew under her leadership. I hope you will see fit to reward her efforts with this prestigious award. Sincerely, Jon Schlitt Chief Financial Officer/Sales and Marketing Adviser The University Daily Kansan
LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION Sean Powers, Sales Manager To Whom It May Concern: I am extremely excited to be recommending Mollie Pointer from The University Daily Kansan for CNBAM’s Advertising Manager of the Year Award. I have been on staff for three years and worked with 4 business managers; while each provided leadership perfectly tailored to the staff they hired, Mollie is the first manager I flourished under and prepared me for my current role as business manager in Spring 2014. Mollie’s professionalism, composer and ability to handle stress while still making honorable decisions on a daily basis reshaped my outlook on the role of a manager and love for the Kansan. No business manager has ever faced as much adversity as she had to this semester. She effectively overcame this and kept the Kansan profitable. It was in the spring semester of 2013 when I was first introduced to Mollie and told that I would be her zone manager. It was her first semester selling and she was the only new member of my zone who wasn’t a Kansan returner—I assumed I would have to pay close attention to her. However, after going over what she had prepared for her first meeting with Student Senate and witnessing her completely dominate the meeting, her Kansan knowledge and ability to meet and exceed her monthly quota was no longer in question. Mollie continued to outperform every month and broke for the semester—she was easily the best account executive in my zone. At the end of the semester, we both ran for the position of business manager for the fall of 2013. While I couldn't apply for the summer due to an internship with Gannett, her interview and plans for the summer and fall semesters were chosen and were just what the Kansan needed. I was not ready for this position and felt like I had to apply because I was the most experienced on staff. I am so lucky the board recognized this and went with Mollie’s plan for the summer and fall, not only did her plan work but also she was the right fit for the job. I learned so much from her in how to effectively plan and execute training, room reservation, communicating with the Kansan board and other ‘behind the scenes’ work I didn’t know about. The Kansan faced a lot of churn from a staff of mostly seniors and her focus on training logistics, staff mentality and working FOR every member of the staff created an uneatable sales, creative and marketing team. I have never seen a business manager work so hard to make everyone else’s job’s easier and the daily process of what makes the Kansan meet deadlines every day as I have with Mollie. When I came back at the end of summer to serve as the sales manager for the fall of 2013, I was told this back-to-school section had beaten the year prior, even without the extra revenue from our national accounts and other large Kansan customers. I have mentioned the adversity that Mollie has faced a number of times but I have no idea how I would have handled a fraction of what had happened. Due to other commitments, health issues and stress levels, two account executives quit the first day of training in the fall. Mollie and I had to reassure to the staff that everything 1/2
would work out and with rigorous planning and moving around the account executives lists, even promoting an individual mid-training, we figured it out. However, this started a trend and the idea of quitting when times were tough spread and resulted in two other account executives leaving in late October and early November. Once again, Mollie and I decided to take on some of these accounts ourselves, allocate the large clients to our experienced account executives and fight through the stress so it would not fall on to the rest of the staff. There is no way I could have solved these problems alone or with any one else I have worked with at the Kansan. Mollie knew what to do in all of these situations with help from her experiences at the summer CNBAM training (especially the sessions with Vince Coultis in how to handle account executives leaving). While this was going on, the Kansan also faced one of the account executives who worked on the editorial and advertising side plagiarize an article that was picked up by a major news source. I learned more about the editorial management, process of staff reconstruction and how to handle an emergency situation through the amazing leadership of Mollie and the Editor-andChief, Trevor Graff. This is a situation no manager ever wants to face, especially after the adversity the Kansan advertising side had already faced. This situation couldn’t have gone smoother if it weren’t for Trevor and Mollie. I can’t express how much I grew and learned from the professionalism and effective management both of them demonstrated. Mollie is the type of manager was ready for any situation and problem way before it occurs. I couldn’t be more confident in my recommendation and belief that Mollie is the best manager in the nation. I can’t fully explain in a two-paged letter the amount of professionalism demonstrated and managerial skills I learned, but with the adversity in mind, our staggering results and profitable two semesters speak for themselves. There is no way the Kansan would have made it through this impossible semester without Mollie, and she did without complaining or panicking once. Mollie just rolls up her sleeves and figures out the problem. Now that I am the business manager of the Kansan, I have no fear going into this semester confidently with the amazing leadership quality I picked up from my experience with Mollie. I hope to be half the business manager she was last semester. I assumed the Kansan would have burned me after last semester, but Mollie’s drive completely relit the fiery passion I have for this brand. I could not think of a manager who is more deserving for this prestigious award than Mollie Pointer. Sincerely, Sean Powers Business Manager, spring 2014 University Daily Kansan
PERSONAL STATEMENT Management Philosophy To whom it may concern: I would like to thank you for reviewing my materials as a nominee for CNBAM’s Advertising Manager of the year award for my time as business manager at the University Daily Kansan. My role as business manager started in May 2013 and ended in December 2013. I was an underdog in the position at first, but I think this is what served as my constant drive to be better. I had only been on staff for one semester before fulfilling this position. Typically, this position is given to a more seasoned Kansan employee, someone who would have been around for years rather than just a couple of months. I would say my work ethic and sense of professionalism is what landed me the position as business manager for both the summer and fall semesters, which had only been done twice before in the history of the Kansan. I would also say that work ethic and professionalism is largely what my management philosophy is based on. When I was chosen to take the reigns of the Kansan, we had just lost majority of our staff due to their being graduating seniors. This graduating class was extremely talented and well seasoned in the Kansan legacy. I was faced with hiring practically a completely new and inexperienced staff… a terrifying thought to a brand new manager. I hired a full staff of over 30, including account executives, creative designers and marketing specialists. I will say that even though we lost an experienced staff, we were coming out of a rough semester both in terms of numbers and attitudes. This was a chance to shape the minds and careers of the future employees of the Kansan. “You report to me, but I work for you.” – Nick Hadley. This is the motto I put before my staff on the very first day of training. This statement is what I believe makes a manager. As a manager, I work for the people that report to me. It is my job to make sure that I help each and every member of the staff live up to their full potential. By helping each and every individual reach their goals and ambitions, I am fulfilling management to the best of my ability. In order to best prepare and generate success for the staff, I looked at the training program the Kansan had been using and catered it to the fit the needs of the organization in the upcoming semesters. I introduced a New Business challenge to training where the new account executives were forced to get out of their comfort zone and speak with a business owner. The goal was not to have them sell anything or even introduce the Kansan. The sole purpose of the exercise was to have them break out of their shell and apply the skills we had been teaching in the real world. I believe that the best way to learn is by doing. Only so much can be conveyed through PowerPoint’s and activities inside a classroom. The most important lessons are learned in the real world, and this was something I wanted the staff to realize from the get-go. You must create the opportunities in order to generate more luck. Also during training, I split product training into separate categories for both print and digital. This was purposely done in order to shift the mindset at the Kansan from just the familiar print publication, but to a cutting-edge, digital savvy publication, too. Each staffer was trained in Google Analytics to better understand the products they were selling from the ground up. Understanding the product from knowing the locations, audiences and how traffic was directed to our digital sites gives an edge in the selling world. This emphasized the importance of knowing what you sell, but more importantly, believing in it. Knowledge is power.
Also, I held a managers training the day prior to all-staff training to better prepare my appointed management staff. During this training, I was able to incorporate my experiences from the CNBAM Ad Manager’s summer workshop. I implemented the 3-step process, CPR, in how to confront an employee on a performance-based problem. Because we are all peers, but also in management positions, it can create sticky situations among co-workers and ultimately friends. This proved to be incredibly useful as the semester went on and was told that the 3-step process created a better formula in addressing problems in the workplace. I feel that in order to be productive and achieve goals as a team, we must be cognizant of the fact we are working side-by-side, day-by-day together. By understanding the proper way to manage and work with peers in management positions, it created better communications and a sense of teamwork that had previously been lacking. The Kansan is lucky to have strong brand recognition on campus with the student body, and the city of Lawrence. The Kansan is also lucky that we have a full-staffed marketing team, solely dedicated to keeping this brand recognition, yet this team is rarely used to its full potential. In years past, the marketing team was seen as lowest on the totem pole. The marketing team was seen as only a starting point before moving to an account executive position. This needed to change for multiple reasons. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to provide an effectively marketed product to not only improve relationships with clients, but to propel the Kansan tradition as the student voice since 1904. During my time as business manager, I made it my goal to change this perception that marketing was just an entry level position, but to a highly productive team that loved what they were doing. Facing adversity and handling stress are two things that every manager must do. I learned this quickly. Due to health reasons and other obligations, I was faced with two employees leaving during the first few weeks on the job. For weeks the lists had been set, goals had been defined and there was still a monthly quota to fulfill. The staff was wary about the outcome we would see from this loss. I reassured the staff we would be just fine and sorry to be cliché, but what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger. We ended up hitting goal that month despite these challenges. When challenges were thrown at me, I learned that my reaction affected the whole staff. By realizing this early on, I was very aware of how I handled adversity and tough challenges. As full-time students, and working basically a full-time job, the last thing the staff ever needed was more stress from a stressed out business manager. I made it my goal to be an approachable management style so that I was able to coach each staff member to his or her full potential. Management is not a philosophy set it stone. Management styles evolve and are adapted through each and every day’s challenges. You never know what might come your way when you walk through the door or open your email. During my time as business manager, I set out to change the culture of the University Daily Kansan that will better its course in the future through a variety of ways. It is an organization that has lived on the University of Kansas campus for over 100 years, and my goal is to see that for another 100 years. Sincerely, Mollie Pointer Business Manager University Daily Kansan
APPENDIX JOB DESCRIPTION
“You report to me, but I work for you.” – Nick Hadley As business manager, I was in charge of hiring, training and managing over 30 full-time students for both the summer and fall semesters. These 30 student staff members made up a team of account executives, creative designers, and marketing specialists. As business manager, I made sure that things ran smoothly on a day-today basis and helped each staffer to reach their full potential.
DUTIES • • • • • • • •
Handle one the Kansan’s largest, contracted accounts Manage and continually train over 30 staff members Develop week long training program for all staff-members Prepare and execute weekly all-staff meetings and managers’ meetings Maintain order fulfillment for Kansan digital media content through Google DFP and Google Analytics Execute launch of RockChalkLiving.com, the Kansan’s students’ premiere housing site Develop and execute staff-wide incentives to motivate sales and generate staff morale Maintain relationships and attend meetings with the Kansan Board of Directors and editorial staff
TRAINING & CHANGING CULTURE
It can be easy to get stuck in old ways. This was something that I was well aware of going into the all-staff training. I also brainstormed ideas in how to change culture within the Kansan to create a healthy, more productive and encouraging work environment. Training is a week long and absolutely mandatory. When in the hiring process, I only hired individuals that were available for training. This was something I felt needed to happen in order to set the high standard the Kansan holds itself to. During training, all staff members learn just about everything you need to know about the Kansan and how the system works. This year, I wanted to implement ways to make sure that the week didn’t get monotonous and drag on. I took our schedules from the past years and re-vamped it to fit the needs this staff would need most and added aspects I thought were missing. What had been missing in years past was an emphasis on digital training. Instead of combining both print and digital training into one presentation like years prior, I separated these training segments to better show the equal importance of print and digital. Along with basic digital product training, I taught the entire staff how to navigate the Kansan’s Google Analytics. This activity proved to be incredibly successful. The sellers were able to better identify with the product they were selling and in turn, explain it better to their future clients. Also in an attempt to shift the Kansan to a digital mindset, I implemented a certification process that included developing strategic campaigns for a mock client that involved both print and digital products that all new staff members had to complete before moving into the real world. This was put in place to make sure the sellers understood how to make both print and digital products work together in order for the client to receive the best results. Changing culture was also something I needed to focus on. The previous semester the office environment dwindled in professionalism and productivity. The office became a place that was not a healthy work environment and it created a negative effect. I created policies that included no social media or homework in the office during business hours as well as a strict enforcement of office hours 9-4 every day, except while in class. By setting these standards early, I was able to change the culture at the Kansan from previous semester that emphasized the professionalism and production the paper needed.
APPENDIX ROCKCHALKLIVING.COM RockChalkLiving.com technically launched in spring of 2013, but due to poor marketing efforts and a lack of strategy behind the product, I led the re-branding and re-launch of this product. Our goal was to make RockChalkLiving.com the premiere housing site for KU students. The launch coincided with the Kansan’s first ever Fall Apartment Fest where RockChalkLiving.com was the sponsor. We set a goal to have over 2,000 visits to the website by the end of the fall semester.
Phases of Branding & Launching • Appointed and led team made up creative director, marketing managers, and adviser • Schedule meetings 3x a week, 2 months leading up to the of>icial launch date Phase 1 • Planned semester long timeline • De>ined goals and deadlines • Developed stratgey, tactics and objectives for the campaign Phase 2 • Created social media accounts coinciding with the website
• Of>ically re-‐launched the website on October 7 and tracked its success • Developed and executed continued marketing efforts for the future
As you can see below, on April, when the site was launched there was an initial spike in traffic but severely dropped off as the semester went on. On October 7, the re-launch date, there was an 80.6 percent increase in traffic than the previous launch date. Also, as you can see below, the traffic has been steady after the re-launch date due to the continued marketing efforts that carried through the end of the fall semester and even into the beginning of this spring.
GRAPHIC FROM GOOGLE ANALYTICS
APPENDIX Surpassing our goal
This number represents the total visits on RockChalkLiving.com. This number surpasses our end goal by over 400 visits. GRAPHIC FROM GOOGLE ANALYTICS
Examples of RockChalkLiving.com Marketing Social Media: Through social media, we had a â€œFeature of the Weekâ€? to showcase a housing opportunity that would directly link to RockchalkLiving.com. We posted other relevant content to better engage with the student audience. @RockChalkLiving
Print & Digital Advertising (house ads):
Motion house Kansan.com, and big box, click-through to site
ads on banner with a straight
APPENDIX Event & Out-of-Home: Apartment Fest Sponsor
Rock Chalk Living had a presence at the Kansan’s Apartment Fest with a photobooth, branded merchandise like bottle openers and pens, and an informational booth.
Yard Signs & Bus Ads
As a marketing tactic, we produced yard signs and bus ads that had copy corresponding with its location. For example, a yard sign placed by the football stadium would read, “Because here you are the tailgate.”
APPENDIX MARKETING DEVELOPMENTS The Kansan is lucky to have a fully staffed marketing team dedicated to issues like increasing readership, event planning and branding the Kansan with the desired target audience. In the past years, the marketing team has been seen as the lowest on the totem pole for positions. It was seen as just a place to start to eventually move up to sales. I wanted to change this from the first day I started at the Kansan. I saw so much potential in the marketing team and wanted to change the perception of the staff to guide the Kansan to a brighter and stronger future.
The Kansan orchestrated one of the biggest marketing campaigns in its history for the first two weeks back to school this fall. The goal of this campaign was to strategically increase readership and brand recognition for the Kansan across all its products. The campaign basically saturated campus with aggressive marketing for two weeks. Readership rewards programs were in place each and every day. The summer was spent gathering hundreds of prizes worth thousands of dollars to give away. At the end of this campaign, the Kansan turned away over 1,200 students at a Back-to-School party that capped the end of the marketing blitz and the largest prizes were given away, like a men’s ’13-’14 signed basketball.
The Kansan had to turn away 1,200 students at the BTS party
I expanded the Kansan’s off-campus distribution to local establishments and hotels around Lawrence. A marketing staff member personally delivered every Weekend Edition to these locations to ensure that this paper received the widest reach possible. This served as a great selling point for the Weekend Edition and was well received by clients.
APPENDIX THUNDERBOLT DAYS Readership was one of the main obstacles that the Kansan faced. To overcome this, I implemented “Thunderbolt Days.” Thunderbolt Days were called this because we were basically creating an ‘act of nature’ on campus that could not be ignored by students, faculty and staff, and alumni. Basically Thunderbolt Days were a combined marketing effort from both the advertising and editorial sides. The editor-in-chief and myself picked days throughout the semester that we felt would produce great content, which in turn provided the ad staff with selling points to generate a dramatic increase in sales at the same time as decreasing return rates. By decreasing return rates, we were able to provide our advertisers with the widest possible reach to further engage their target audience.
The first “Thunderbolt Day” took place on Oct. 3. This was Homecoming weekend and the kick-off to the 1314-basketball season. We picked this day because we knew there was opportunity to increase readership to not only students, but also to the alumni that would be in town. Also, with the increased alumni in town, a broader audience was available for those clients aiming for that demographic. The week before the deadline, I brought the staff together and laid out what was going to happen. By pitching it to the staff and getting each of them excited. Brought in over $13,000 in sales. Prior to this date, the Weekend Edition generated a previous high of about $7,000. This was the most successful non-special section daily paper Return rates were down to 5 percent from 20 percent, a 15 percent drop Part of “Thunderbolt Days” includes a social media push from all Kansan social media, but also from staffers personal accounts, both on the ad staff and editorial staff. Relevant hashtags were developed to track the traffic.
The above poster was printed for every distribution box on campus and put up the night before the papers hit the racks. This served as a way to draw more attention and effectively decrease return rates by 15 percent.
Students were handed these papers as they waited in line for hours for Late Night in the Phog, kicking off the Kansas Basketball season.
APPENDIX OVERCOMING CHURN Back-to-School Special Section
Over the months of June and July, I became aware of the fact that $7,000 from national clients that the Kansan relied on for years was not coming back for the Fall Back-to-School Edition. After a successful and profitable summer, surpassing last year’s Back-to-School sales was a major goal of mine for the staff to start fall on a good note. Faced with this problem, I encouraged and motivated the staff early on to find alternative means of revenue so that we could surpass last year’s BTS sales.
The Kansan was able to overcome this $7,000 churn that had been relied upon for years. Due to hard work and planning ahead, numbers still exceeded the previous year’s BTS sales.
MOBILE APP DEVELOPMENT New Revenue Generator
For the fall of 2013, I introduced a new revenue generator for the Kansan mobile app. The banner was at the bottom of the main screen of the mobile app. Clients were offered to be the sole advertiser at a minimum of four weeks. This was sold out by September for the entire semester and even into this spring.
During the summer, the Kansan set up a table at every freshman orientation. If the new student was to download the UDK mobile app, they were entered to win up to $500 in cuisine cash or a free KU Athletics ticket pass. By branding with freshman, the UDK mobile app will be top-of-mind. By targeting freshman, we are building a 4-5 year relationship and building habits early on. This summer and through the fall, the mobile app had a 61% increase in downloads from the previous year.
APPENDIX MOTIVATION & INCENTIVES Harry Potter Incentive
As a motivational tactic and staff building exercise, I created incentives that were designed to boost sales, but also as a fun activity in the office. To help reach goal and overcome churn for the Back-to-School Edition, I implemented a staff-wide incentive. The theme was Harry Potter. I chose Harry Potter, not only because of my own love for it, but it was pop culture the staff had grown up with therefore it was relatable. I held a staff meeting to kick-off the incentive. At this meeting, I divided the teams into the four house: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Syltherin. I had a representative from each team come forward to be “sorted.” I had a witch’s hat, just like in the movie, and each representative pulled out an envelope with his or her house. We then played a Harry Potter trivia game. The team who won the trivia game got the very first point for the incentive. The incentive had a variety of tasks and goals each week that must be completed in order to move along the Quidditch field. The board was updated weekly to show who was in the lead. There was a cash prize for the winner. This proved to be a key element in surpassing last year’s BTS sales and overcoming churn.
New Business Incentives
I was always expressing the importance of new business. Each and every seller had new business goals to meet. To help generate a little bit of healthy competition, I would plan mini new business incentives whenever the Kansan had a potential client call in. For example, on the first day of selling, whoever had the most meetings set up by the end of the day, receive a new business. Through the semester, I would do these mini flash incentives to generate energy and excitement and to reiterate the importance of new business.
After every semester, the staff votes on awards that are handed out at the last Kansan get-together. During my time as business manager I received the following awards:
Best Manager Most likely to pull an all-nighter in the office Most Kansan pride