Louisiana Press Leads With Its MediaNext Initiative

Louisiana Press Association this year launched a new training program with the goal of fostering collaboration among other newspaper trade groups and becoming a “thought leader” in the industry.

The initial focus of MediaNext is digital, advertising and revenue, given the intense challenges faced by newspapers. Later, journalism, leadership and programs will be added.

So far, LPA’s initiative has delivered two digital programs.

“The training is meant to move us forward,” said Jerry Raehal, executive director of the Louisiana Press Association. “Print is not going away, though revenues will look different. And I know there still are papers that don’t want to deal with digital, but with the industry revenue needs, we need to know that digital is not going away either.”

Digital also is where the audience growth occurs, especially based on results during the pandemic. “Reach isn’t our issue. Monetizing it is,” Raehal added in an interview via Zoom.

MediaNext began in February with a webinar on the importance of local media websites. A program in April explored selling against social media. View it here.

(I attended both webinars and found the advice to practical, useful and clear. It also was refreshing to hear digital experts admit personally disliking Facebook but acknowledging having to be on the social-media platform because clients used it.)

LPA Executive Director Jerry Raehal

MediaNext will benefit from a partnership with AdCellerant, a technology and digital advertising company that Raehal worked with when he was a publisher in Colorado. Raehal also is a former executive director of the Colorado Press Association.

“They are most competent and willing to do training,” he said. “We need to figure out training that can be administered at different (skill) levels, with a robust structure.”

Raehal said MediaNext plans to offer monthly webinars, short on-demand video training, one-sheet handouts with advice, other resources for members, and different formats. The topics will cover a range of subjects and issues, including:

  • How print and digital work together in a sales cycle.
  • Easy digital marketing strategies.
  • Effective advertising for small businesses.

Because newspaper staffs are often pressed for time, the 60-minute workshops can viewed live online or on-demand by connecting to MediaNext’s page. “We want MediaNext to be worthwhile for the time invested,” Raehal said.

MediaNext is free to participants, though some future programs might have costs depending on speaker fees. Raehal is inviting members of Newspaper Association Managers to use the training as well.

Once the program gets to full speed, Raehal said, LPA might use MediaNext to help secure grants for the Louisiana Press Foundation, and might ask for donations as part of the sign-up form. “Or maybe something else,” he added.

Raehal also hopes other press associations can collaborate on future training programs and projects to avert duplication while expanding learning opportunities.

“We want to be an advocate for thought leadership in the media space,” he said. “We want to help our members and the industry for what’s next.”

–Tom Silvestri

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