Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

In the latest issue of AtF’s “Off the Cuff,” we sat down and discussed company culture and what it takes to build the culture you want. With that still in the backs of our minds, we’re adding Dr. David Vik’s new book, “The Culture Secret: How to Empower People and Companies No Matter What You Sell,” to our summer reading list. Vik is the founder and CEO of The Culture King, a company that helped Zappos.com create its now nationally recognized company culture that has created both loyal and satisfied customers and employees. In the book, Vik offers five steps for creating the company culture you want.

On day two of the 2012 WCAA conference in Las Vegas, The McClatchy Company’s Sales Training and Development Manager, Vince Coultis, gave an engaging presentation on hiring and training in this ever-changing world. He opened by inviting six volunteers to come to the front of the room and untangle a rope. As they struggled, and ultimately failed, Coultis was making a point. When a paper has a difficult problem, they often bring trainers in to solve it, or teach the reps the proper response. However, these trainers often come in and simply present a solution but fail to actually teach it. With this, he emphasized the importance of a good trainer and training program.

When hiring new employees, it can be hard to find someone who fits the bill perfectly. Often, perfect candidates don’t come cheap, and you may have to compromise on your employee skill “wish-list.” Because of this dilemma, we will be examining some of the pros and cons of hiring the imperfect, albeit well-suited, candidate to help you prioritize the skills and qualities that will be best for your office. 

On Tuesday at the 2012 WCAA Conference, Jamie Naughton, the Speaker of the House at Zappos.com, discussed the importance of building a company brand that makes employees proud members of a team, rather than cogs in a machine. Zappos.com is an online shoe and apparel store founded in 1999 based in Henderson, Nev., not far from this year’s conference in Las Vegas. Amazon.com acquired the site in July 2009 for approximately $1.2 billion. Zappos.com has earned a reputation based on dedicated customer service and a unique company culture. In her presentation, “Managing the Change: Building a Brand That Matters,” Naughton explored how these two facets of customer service and company culture are not mutually exclusive, and that in reality, one is necessary for the other to exist. She broke down her presentation into the various aspects of the company’s vision that have helped Zappos.com achieve a defined and recognizable brand as well as customer and employee happiness.

The articles we have brought you about social media and youthful hires may have sounded like we were giving you conflicting evidence. Although I recommend using a committed employee for your social media strategy instead of an intern, I also suggest that searching for youth is a possible way to get fresh ideas. I stand by both sets of advice, however, it was not until I came across an article from Inc.com  that gave explicit advice not to hire a 23 year old, did I realize that my advice might have been somewhat confusing. This article outlined a set of stereotypes about today’s youth that are both non-factual and could be possibly discriminatory. 

You’re likely to be hiring someone new, sometime soon. Why not shake up your interview routine and find out some truly illustrative qualities about your prospective employees? An article from Inc.com outlines “Three Interview Questions That Reveal Everything” and why those questions are so revealing. These questions might seem basic, but provide important illumination into both the intentions and personalities of your interviewees. These questions are as follows:

It’s time to re-think the questions that you ask during the interview process. If the goal is to find the best person fit for the job opening, then some of the stereotypical interview questions are no longer going to cut it, such as, “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” Some hypothetical questions are good, but they should be based in the reality of your industry. For instance, present interviewees with a possible conflict scenario and ask what their resolutions would be. Their answer will help you discover something tangible about them as a potential employee. Avoid asking the questions that always seem to be asked in interviews, but don’t really tell you anything about the applicant. Just because everyone else asks them, doesn’t mean you should. Instead, ask questions about their actual work experiences that are relevant to the position you are trying to fill. Below, we show the questions typically asked at interviews, and suggest what questions you should ask instead.

Internships are a win-win for both interns and for businesses. Interns gain experience and begin to build their résumés, and businesses gain a boost in creativity as well as low-cost employment. Despite potentially benefiting both the intern and the hiring company, be aware that problems can arise (especially when your expectations are unclear). Interns are not always the perfect solution to a problem, but more so an opportunity to bring in an innovative, productive new employee into the company for little-to-no cost.

LinkedIn — in case you didn’t know — is a business-oriented social network. Since its launch in 2003, the site boasts 135 million registered users, and it is gaining popularity as a tool for both applicants and employers. LinkedIn is more than a job-listing site; it is a network of professionals. LinkedIn posts on their site that “executives from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies [are] members” of this network. The site uses multi-level contacts called Connections, and each user has a list of business Connections. Think of it like a Rolodex™; but (certain restrictions apply) you’re able to access all of your Connections’ contacts as well. They are your extended Connections and this maintains a chain of professional contacts. The site utilizes a “gated-access approach” to preserve privacy, but you can use these Connections to search for suitable candidates.

 

There has been quite a bit of a time spent discussing the way the industry is changing. Namely, the changes in technology that are affecting how newspapers advertise and how sales representatives sell those advertisements. I am not disputing the fact that the industry needs to accommodate the digital era, however, in an industry where change is mandatory; some things should remain constant, especially sales management skills. 

Hiring the wrong person for an open position can end up costing your company far more than just a financial woo. According to Career Builder, two-thirds of American companies admit to making regrettable decisions in the last year. The majority of those surveyed confessed that their biggest mistake could be summed up with one bad hire. “Sixty-nine percent of employers reported that bad hires lowered their company’s productivity, affected worker morale and even resulted in legal issues. Forty-one percent of companies estimate that a bad hire costs more than $25,000, and one in four said it costs more than $50,000.” That’s an awful high price to pay for a mistake that was likely avoidable in the first place.

One of the key principles in Arte Nathan’s “Managing Your Boss — Mastering Change — The Power to Lead” was the importance of hiring the right people. Along with breaking new ground in recruitment advertising, he developed a controversial screening test to weed out applicants. The crux of Nathan’s argument: You need to sell culture, hire for attitude and train skills. He encouraged newspapers to embrace this concept. A successful business relies on the having the right people to do the job.

Arte Nathan, President of Strategic Development Worldwide out of Laguna Beach, Calif., has been a pivotal influence in the creative development of the modern day Las Vegas Strip. After spending 25 years in human resources with Steve Wynn, the casino-resort developer responsible for the Mirage, Treasure Island and the Bellagio, among others, Nathan has been on the cutting edge of innovative hiring in a changing industry. Although much of his career has been spent in hospitality, Nathan’s adaptations of the world’s evolution can, and should, be implemented in the new scene of classified advertising.

As the annual WCAA kicked off this morning in a somewhat overcastted San Diego, Calif., we welcomed Arte Nathan, President of Strategic Development Worldwide, an upstate New York native, now a “beach bum” by his own classification in Laguna Beach. Of course, before he made it to the beach, this “bum” had to prove himself in the big city — sin city. His enthralling presentation had the 50 (or so) attendees silent in anticipation, a notable challenge you’re surely quite familiar with in the newspaper industry. Arte Nathan spent 25 years in human resources for Atlantic City. He’s opened 12 hotels and hired over 100,000 employees; employees, he boasts, that are the best. He was a game changer in hospitality, and his hotels, ranging from the Mirage to Treasure Island and the Bellagio, are host to the world’s finest staffs, all because he believed in change.

Although the newspaper industry is far from stable, the need for quality sales reps that meet the qualifications of the rising standards in advertising sales is exorbitant.  Many companies insist they do not wish to discriminate against the unemployed, yet oppressing those who are currently out of work is a recent phenomenon that is gaining political and media attention. In fact, democrats in both chambers of Congress are seeking to make the discriminatory hiring decision a federal crime.

At last spring’s Blinder Group/SNA Revenue summit in Chicago, Cheryl Phillips gave a presentation Outbound Telesales: Myth or Miracle? (Which we featured in the last two issues of Advertising Executive.) During the presentation, she emphasized the need for hiring the right people for your telesales team (which can be easily adapted to your newspaper’s sales team in general). She suggested that during the interview process, you should give your reps a pre-screening test. This led to an enlivened debate about how to hire the right types of professionals for your sales team with audience members chiming in on what works for their newspapers.

Day Two’s keynote speaker Kirk Davis, president and chief operating officer at GateHouse Media, gave a rousing presentation entitled Revenue Growth Starts with Strong Leadership. He opened with a question: How intentionally is your company evolving? Intentional. The word carried a lot of weight for Davis over his career in the industry. He believes that this industry has a tendency to let things happen to it, to change only when forced to, instead of grabbing the bull by the horns. He urged organizations to become intentional in all aspects of business, from development to managing the staff.

The job market today is a minefield, for both applicants and employers. No one likes the hiring process; it’s an arduous, time-consuming task that is filled with a number of potential pitfalls. Every employer wants to be sure they hire the best possible candidate. And to do that, they go through a screening process based on qualifications, tests and interviews. But, today, employers have a new way of helping to determine the personality of any applicant: their Facebook profile. Well, really, any social media can help in that regard. Social media provides a window into any applicants personality: their interests, their sense of humor, if they’re professional, and, sometimes, how they behaved at their last job. Social media profiling is a value-added benefit a newspaper can do to help entice recruiters.