The Local Media Association’s Media Transformation Conference

Last month I attended the Local Media Association’s Media Transformation conference in Kansas City, Missouri, along with heavyweights from the local media world. I was quite impressed with the topics and speakers.

The entire conference was buzzing with good ideas and important conversations, but a couple of noteworthy themes made an impression on me: how do publications compete for readership in an age of free news services, and the current state of diversity in local media.

Editorial: Meet the Bottom Line in the Age of Free News

It was clear at the event that editorial people are focusing more heavily on the bottom line. How can you not, when local media companies often find themselves struggling for ad dollars and losing readers to free or aggregated news services? Editors seem much more focused on how their editorial mix can contribute to increasing readership and thinking about it from the perspective of revenue so they can win over advertisers. That is a sea change from just a few years ago, when they did not seem to have any concern about the impact of the editorial on audience and thus on advertising dollars. Many people were talking about techniques they had learned or were experimenting with to drive readership and, in turn, secure more advertising.

Diversity in Local Media

The conference wasn’t entirely about how local media companies can make money. One session in particular that stayed with me was about diversity in the workplace, led by Brian Baker, partner at Mercer and the global HR leader (Brian was also a former vice president of personnel at Walmart).

The message was that diversity (i.e., gender and ethnicity) is a difficult priority to keep at the top of the list, because it doesn't have an immediate payback and often highlights companies' poor policies. However, given the importance diversity has on building strong teams in today's environment and workforce mix, not prioritizing it will doom companies to mediocrity.

His delivery was excellent, because of how well he communicated the message in a subtle and non-negative manner. He made everyone in the room realize how important the diversity issue is without creating a reactionary environment -- a very important and inspiring perspective!

The Local Media Association’s events never fail to bring some of the most important issues to the forefront. The opportunity to network with local media companies in person and hear their perspectives, pain points and successes is always invaluable to me and AffinityX in general. We’re looking forward to the LMA Mega Conference in February!