Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

We all feel as though there are not enough hours in the day. All it takes is one big, stressful project to make an eight-hour workday feel like 10 minutes. Part of the reason for this is, however, that other things tend to pull our focus away from where it should be. There are some simple solutions to this problem, as outlined in a Forbes.com article by Susan Adams, called “How to Overcome Workplace Distraction.” 

As a manager, you undoubtedly strive for the best — the best in your products and services, your employees and in your own performance. While you may not be the CEO of the newspaper or the company, you are the head honcho of your department. With that in mind, there are some lessons to be learned from both the great and the not-so-great CEOs of the world. When a CEO for a major corporation takes a misstep or, even worse, they act unethically, their dirty laundry gets aired for the world to see. However, all is not lost. There are admirable CEOs out there that can teach you a thing or two — in this case, five things — about being a great leader for your department. In fact, Melody Stevens did a case study for The Huffington Post to prove this point. She went on a mission to find 10 CEOs who were smart business owners while maintaining an untarnished reputation and work ethic. After all was said and done, Stevens found that these 10 CEOs shared five qualities in common. We have them here for you to think upon and then potentially reshape your management approach.

It seems more often than not, no meeting is complete without food. Whether it is because we are all so busy and the two-birds-one-stone approach allows us to eat and work, or because meetings are always more fun when you can score a free muffin, food is essential. We found an article on Inc.com that highlights some of the ways to have a successful business lunch so that your attempts to multitask or feed your employees and guests run smoothly. This article, called “7 Rules of a Successful Business Lunch” by Matthew Swyers, details the (you guessed it!) seven best ways to ensure productivity while your members are filling their stomachs.

In the spirit of our active lifestyle demographic, we want to focus on the importance of not only physical health, but mental health as well. Since most U.S. workers spend at least 40 hours at work every week, both physical and mental health play a large role in office life and well-being. Therefore, it’s crucial that, as manager, you stay vigilant in regards to bad attitudes and daily work frustrations within the office. What may seem like a small office conflict or one bad day could potentially reach a boiling point, and consequently have a negative impact on the mental health of you and your employees. Make sure you build an office environment that supports your staff and aids their happiness, and if problems do arise — and they are bound to — make sure you offer constructive outlets for employees to vent frustrations and resolve issues. If you ignore building negativity in your department, it will directly contribute to the dissatisfaction of your employees, and subsequently, their work performances. The implication of this is that office negativity impacts the work being done in your ad department and is actually preventing it from reaching its potential. Simply put, unhappy employees likely means you have some unhappy clients, and as a manager, you know that cannot stand. 

“This is how we’ve done it for years.” This response to a proposition to change practices or strategies is so common it borders on cliché.  Although business strategy is often defined by the practices and values that been have held and developed since a company’s foundation, the redevelopment of practices to keep up with changing trends is not just a good idea, it can also be necessary. As we have discussed in other articles, change is hard, but when faced with progress or failure, many still favor failing with tradition than success with progress. 

Like any skill, certain aspects are innate. While most would argue vociferously that their skills are developed through nothing but hard work and dedication, some others might beg to differ. We found an article in Inc. Magazine, called “The Secret to Their Success,” that suggests that the very psychology of successful sales people may not only enable them with persuasive abilities but also a set of personality traits that forces them to bite at the heels of every sales opportunity. These personality traits include not only greed and competition, as many believe are necessary qualities of successful sales people, but also masochism and the prospect of rejection, says the article’s author, G. Clotaire Rapaille.

Things are going well. Things aren’t spectacular, but hey, things aren’t terrible either. Although you probably feel that you are doing just fine, and any discrepancy in your department can’t be chalked up to you managerial skills, take a look at these “8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Managers” from INC.com to either further solidify yourself as an exemplary manager or maybe learn something new that can help turn your department around.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

These famous words from Mahatma Gandhi, although not intended for newspapers, hold water when we apply them to the current state of the industry. Gandhi’s statement places responsibility on the individual to decide between right and wrong, and encourages one to unsubscribe from the status quo and to begin redefining the norm for the better. No, the newspaper industry is not facing tyranny under an oppressive dictator, and the last time I checked, a hunger strike is an unnecessary action for this situation. However, this industry is facing fierce competition from multiple sources, and although not for lack of trying, it has been unsuccessful in meeting the opposition head on.

This past July, I was scrolling through Facebook, making posts and creating a How-To Guide on monetizing the social media site when I ran across a photo from Leslie Nagy. Nagy, the Classified Advertising Manager at Freedom New Mexico, happily keeps her Facebook family and friends in the know with what’s happening in her department. This particular day, her Ad Director, Shane Adair, was kicking off a Full-Page Mania sales blitz. He started the team off right with a hearty breakfast and a yummy lunch to get them motivated! Through further contact with Nagy, I found her paper is no stranger to incentives that help the sales team boost morale and increase ad revenue. Here’s what she had to say:

Following the success of Bingo Bucks (see Advertising Executive, August 2011), Above the Fold/EZAdsPro’s Sales Manager Greg Ludlow created Marathon Money for his sales staff at The Times in Frankfort, Ind. Ludlow said he designed Marathon Money with similar intentions — he wanted to develop an incentive program that would both inspire his staff to confront areas in which they had been avoiding or that were particular challenges for them as well as give them an opportunity to earn some extra cash. His hopes were to increase revenue while getting his reps out of their comfort zone. Marathon Money, which followed Bingo Bucks by about a year, was fun for his reps, who enjoyed monitoring the progress of the race — which was displayed on a big graphic course posted on the wall — throughout the month-long competition.

In the world of print and online media, transitions to the next big thing are rampant and managers are left relaying these changes to employees. Each medium has its merits, but navigating ad-based revenue can be challenging for both manager and sales staff. The key to a fluid move is communication. This concept seems like a standard component of managerial life, but to be effective, leaders must know and consistently exhibit positive communication habits. Things such as “Yes, I am in regular contact with my department” or “Yes, I’m aware of ongoing issues” don’t mean you have created and/or maintained the kind of connection that results in productive, flexible employees or effective conflict resolution.

If you’ve been following this series, you’ve seen several incentives programs held all across our nation that were spoken about at this spring’s SCAMA convention in Jacksonville, Fla. Multiple voices from around the USA spoke of their sales teams’ efforts in increasing motivation and morale and overall revenue generation. This month I’m taking you to Huntsville, Ala. home of Lori Ziegelmann, the classified advertising manager at The Huntsville Times.

Teamwork has always been the corner-stone in the business world, but few understand the nuances of creating a successful team. A team-based, horizontal organization structure is viewed as the best method for creating a successful business with the involvement of all employees. In order to have a successful team dynamic, everyone needs to have a clear understanding of the mission or goals of the company.

Employee recognition programs are a time-honored tradition in the business world, but they are often “unrewarding.” They can come across as empty gestures, merely ploys to make employees feel appreciated. Here are a few areas where recognition programs seem to go wrong.