RPD: A Full View Of Excellence

82nd in a 2022 Series*


Yesterday’s Pulitzer Prizes demonstrate just how important the press association awards are in recognizing excellence in local journalism. Without them, and the intense, admirable efforts that go into celebrating community journalism, readers might think the only enterprise stories that matter are those produced by the big newsrooms and major metro outfits. Not so. Spend time attending state conferences and you’ll hear amazing details on what went into outstanding reporting advancing stories only community newspapers are telling. See the articles, projects, photography, and judges’ comments linked on the associations’ lists of annual award winners and you’ll probably find several worthy of Pulitzer mention. And sample the follow-up workshops that showcase how today’s courageous local journalists, despite all of the challenges in their industry, focused on what’s important to their communities and delivered story after story after story that made a difference. Sometimes there’s a community weekly among the Pulitzer winners and nominees. Not this year. That’s OK. There are still plenty of local journalists to appreciate, plenty of hard-working newsrooms to applaud, and plenty of community newspapers who deserve our advocacy. A lot of what they do is most Relevant. That’s an important distinction, medals aside.

–Tom Silvestri, Executive Director, The Relevance Project

*ABOUT THE SERIES: Our goal is to share a Relevant Point of the Day (RPD) each weekday throughout 2022. Our target is at least 222. Thank you for supporting The Relevance Project. Your success is our focus.

RPD: A Conference Sampler

81st in a 2022 Series*

You can tell what’s on the minds of community newspapers these days from the topics selected for press association conferences. This snapshot comes from the Nebraska Press Association, which offered its members the following programs and workshops April 29-30 as in-person training:
“Post Pandemic: Getting People to Pick Up Your Newspaper”
“Effective Print & Digital Strategies for Your Market”
“Increase Revenue by Designing More Effective Ads”
“Photography: Make Your Photos Stand Out From The Crowd”
“Building Lasting Customer Relationships”
“Kid Scoop News Partnerships”
“Video &Digital in Small Markets”
“Financing Non-profit Newsrooms”
“Learn or Relearn InDesign Basics”
“Mastering PhotoShop: Tools You Never Had Time To Learn”
“Grow Readership Through Award-Winning High School Sports Coverage”
“The Transfer of Wealth: Game-Changer for Nebraska Communities”
“Why Community Newspapers? More Importantly, Why You?”
“Nebraska Community Newspapers: From the Student’s Perspective”
“Great Idea Exchange”
In addition to this lineup (advertised in a large wall screen at the hotel conference center, above), I was honored to present two programs:
“Introduction to the Relevance Meter”
“The Nebraska Relevance Project: A Resource for You”
There were also plenty of hallway conversations about best practices, check-ins with vendors, awards to pass out, friends catching up with each other, and bids to win prizes that help support the good work of the press association. Congratulations, Nebraska.

–Tom Silvestri, Executive Director, The Relevance Project

*ABOUT THE SERIES: Our goal is to share a Relevant Point of the Day (RPD) each weekday throughout 2022. Our target is at least 222. Thank you for supporting The Relevance Project. Your success is our focus.

RPD: Keep Those Customers Coming Back

80th in a 2022 Series*

The Relevance Project was listed as a sponsor (bottom row) at last week’s Nebraska Press Associaton convention.


I had 12 minutes to share advice on “Building Lasting Customer Relationships.” It was part of a “Flash Session” at the Nebraska Press Association’s Annual Conference, April 29-30. I opted to present this Top 10 list of “actions that worked during 15 years as a community publisher”:
1. Invite readers to Community Forums to discuss issues of importance.
2. Send/publish updates to readers and advertisers about the newspaper. Give them the scoop.
3. Write personal notes. Surprise and delight.
4. Involve the staff in sending thank-you cards to new subscribers and those who reach milestones (5, 10, 15, 20 ….years) in supporting your local news operation.
5. Send copies of stories to the local residents who appear in your newspaper. Add a short congratulations note.
6. Conduct open houses at least once a year. (Note: For newspapers without an office, consider borrowing space from an advertiser, such as a restaurant.)
7. Do a great job advocating for newspapers during National Newspaper Week in October. Plan well in advance. NNW should not be a surprise.
8. Answer all customer queries ASAP, even if it’s “I’m working on it.” Solve problems within 24 hours. The sooner, the better. Over-communicate.
9. Share customer complaints with all managers. It’s educational.
10. Deliver thank-you gifts in person from time to time to loyal advertisers, sponsors.
BONUS: Invite local restaurants to provide samples to your staff meetings in return for time to introduce themselves. Food spices up your meetings and the restaurant gets future customers. This concept can extend to other advertisers. Make the relationship with the newspaper personal.
Special thanks to my colleagues who got it done.
My 12 minutes are up.

–Tom Silvestri, Executive Director, The Relevance Project

*ABOUT THE SERIES: Our goal is to share a Relevant Point of the Day (RPD) each weekday throughout 2022. Our target is at least 222. Thank you for supporting The Relevance Project. Your success is our focus.

RPD: Applause for In-Person Conferences

79th in a 2022 Series*

It didn’t take long for the first sign that press associations were back holding in-person conferences.

The above alert was spotted inside the Kearney hotel where the Nebraska Press Association set up its 2022 convention April 29-30. Excitement does have its limits. Safety first, folks. (And don’t blame it on the kids!) Meanwhile, in New York, the state press association also was conducting an in-person conference at the same time. More conventions by other groups are in the wings. Wait a minute. “Trapped for up to 3 hours”? That sounds like an awards ceremony. Good to be with colleagues nonetheless.

-Tom Silvestri, Executive Director, The Relevance Project

*ABOUT THE SERIES: Our goal is to share a Relevant Point of the Day (RPD) each weekday throughout 2022. Our target is at least 222. Thank you for supporting The Relevance Project. Your success is our focus.

RPD: Raise A Glass To Allen Beermann

78th in a 2022 Series*

Allen Beermann had the last word at the “Toast & Roast” as his wife, Linda, and current Executive Director Dennis DeRossett listened.

Hours before the scheduled “Retirement Toast & Roast for Allen J. Beermann,” tornado warnings, quarter-sized hail and powerful thunderstorms buzzed Kearney, NE, the site of this year’s Nebraska Press Association annual conference. Despite the bad weather, the celebration would go on — it had to go on! — to a packed house, casting aside the many delays caused by the stubborn pandemic. Beermann had announced his retirement in December 2019 and stepped down as NPA executive director on Jan. 31, 2020 — though, it was said several times, he never stopped coming to the office during an extended transition. The legend, who led the state press association for 24 years, and former longtime Nebraska secretary of state was due a big going-away party. The steady parade of tributes over three hours Friday night (April 29) did not disappoint. Beermann admitted afterward he was overwhelmed by what was orchestrated to craft a heartfelt honor, what was said by a long list of speakers, including other executive directors who sent video messages, and what was given — ranging from a scholarship fund in his name to a Nebraska license plate “NE RELIC” (a reference to the 80-plus-year-old Beermann being “the oldest living relic.”) Mark Thomas, executive director of the Oklahoma Press Association, kept the festivities flowing and jokes flying as emcee. When it was all over, Beermann finally received the sendoff fitting a king but more importantly the thanks for the many years of service devoted to advocating for Nebraska journalism and advancing its excellence. He can now wear that tie clip, a gift from his son, that proclaims “–30–“. Said Beermann, “You all know what that means.”

–Tom Silvestri, Executive Director, The Relevance Project

Mississippi Press Association’s Layne Bruce was among the executive directors who sent video messages that were played at the event.
When I caught up with Allen Bearmann on Saturday, he told me the NPA celebration was “overwhelming.”

*ABOUT THE SERIES: Our goal is to share a Relevant Point of the Day (RPD) each weekday throughout 2022. Our target is at least 222. Thank you for supporting The Relevance Project. Your success is our focus.

RPD: Lighting Two Candles Today

77th in a 2022 Series*

Photo by Marina Utrabo on Pexels.com

Today marks the completion of Year 2 of The Relevance Project for me. The timing could not be better as this past week was all about spreading the benefits, resources, progress and possibilities of this NAM (Newspaper Association Managers) initiative at three conferences (one by Zoom). Special thanks to executive directors Michelle Rea, Steve Nixon, Beth Bennett, Mark Maassen and Layne Bruce for their outstanding guidance in the start-up phase and unbending encouragement. Also, thanks to the enterprising press associations, their executive directors, ad agency leaders, staffers and lobbyists who support and invite The Relevance Project to be part of the solutions. And, we add one more round of appreciation for Metro Creative Graphics for contributing the outstanding design work and Coda Ventures for sharing powerful readership research. We have a full tank of fuel for Year 3 and it’s looking like more in-person explorations about THE Community Forum and networking to tout community news operations as the best — as well as the most trusted and Relevant — media. Here’s to lighting a third candle next May 1 with plenty more to say.

–Tom Silvestri, Executive Director, The Relevance Project

*ABOUT THE SERIES: Our goal is to share a Relevant Point of the Day (RPD) each weekday throughout 2022. Our target is at least 222. Thank you for supporting The Relevance Project. Your success is our focus.

RPD: Nebraska Is Relevance Country

76th in a 2022 Series*


The Relevance Project is in the center of Nebraska today and tomorrow for the state press association’s in-person conference. We appreciate the opportunity to share the benefits of the initiative and to explore a better future for local media with Relevance as the guide. I’m also participating in a “Flash Session” where five topics each get 15 minutes of discussion. My focus: “Building Lasting Customer Relationships.” I will share a list of 10 actions that worked well for me during 15 years in the publisher seat. Among the Relevant Points: Solve all customer complaints in 24 hours and respond ASAP to readers and advertisers, even if it is just that you are working on the problem. The theme of the NPA conference (above photo is the cover of the program that’s also a reporter’s notebook) is “Stay Curious.” Will do.

–Tom Silvestri, Executive Director, The Relevance Project

*ABOUT THE SERIES: Our goal is to share a Relevant Point of the Day (RPD) each weekday throughout 2022. Our target is at least 222. Thank you for supporting The Relevance Project. Your success is our focus.

RPD: A Good Question To Ask

75th in a 2022 Series*


Just back from Newspaper Association Managers’ Advertising & Revenue Conference, the first gathering of ad directors since the pandemic set in. Kudos to the Charleston (SC) Marriott for its patience in waiting for us. Thanks also to Brian Allfrey, the program leader whose day job is executive director of the Utah Press Association, for the invitation to deliver “15 Things You Need to Know About The Relevance Project” in 15 minutes. The overview plugged in nicely to the slotted idea sessions that were full of insights, experiences and best practices. I’ll dot future Relevant Points with some of them. Sometimes it’s the simple idea that carries big possibilities. One of the participants offered a question that she said was leading to revenue when working with advertising prospects as well as member newspapers: “What do you need?” In short order you will find out: whether your client knows; how much thought has gone into the described want; whether it’s a new issue or an unsolved mystery; if you’re dealing with real urgency; and how much concentrated time you should devote to the collaboration. The answers also make your next steps their solution. And this: There’s no such thing as a stupid answer. It’s all valuable intelligence. I wound up using it during the day-and-a-half in Charleston and then contemplated actions while taking in the view from my room on the ninth floor (below) that overlooked pool, riverfront condos, a marina and a bridge. It was great to be back in the session with local media advocates thirsty for Relevant answers.

–Tom Silvestri, Executive Director, The Relevance Project

*ABOUT THE SERIES: Our goal is to share a Relevant Point of the Day (RPD) each weekday throughout 2022. Our target is at least 222. Thank you for supporting The Relevance Project. Your success is our focus.

RPD: A Recipe For Success

74th in a 2022 Series*


Funny thing about Relevance — sooner or later, once you embrace it as your primary goal, it’s going to make a big difference. It will stimulate effectiveness, engagement and energy. It also will put you on a positive path. And the “recipe” will pinpoint your strategic future as THE Community Forum.
It even will start to dominant your headlines. (The one above was found in my local newspaper.)
And, yes, Richmond, VA, is the home of The Relevance Project.

–Tom Silvestri, Executive Director, The Relevance Project

*ABOUT THE SERIES: Our goal is to share a Relevant Point of the Day (RPD) each weekday throughout 2022. Our target is at least 222. Thank you for supporting The Relevance Project. Your success is our focus.

RPD: The Community Forum Starter Kit

73rd in a 2022 Series*

Mark this 2022 goal DONE: Posted on THE Community Forum section of www.relevanceproject.net is the starter kit for launching a series of civil, civic conversations. They represent the core of the Relevant strategy that transforms newspapers into THE Community Forum. The process to get there has been simplified into five advice sheets. For your convenience, they’re all here. (Special thanks to Metro Creative Graphics for the design work.) Get ready. Get set. GO.

THE HOW: Planning from start to finish

THE WHAT: Discussions can fit different formats

THE WHEN: How to use the ideal 90 minutes

THE WHERE: Organize the room for civil discourse

THE WHO: Not the rock group; tips for the person in charge

THE OVERALL GOAL: Be THE Community Forum

Finally:
Be a leader. Ignite improvements that uplift your communities. Transform your news organization. Be THE Community Forum.

–Tom Silvestri, Executive Director, The Relevance Project

*ABOUT THE SERIES: Our goal is to share a Relevant Point of the Day (RPD) each weekday throughout 2022. Our target is at least 222. Thank you for supporting The Relevance Project. Your success is our focus.