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Archive for July 30th, 2015

reveille logoUpdate: The numbers used in this post were preliminary numbers. I will update after we get the final numbers.

The Daily Reveille and other LSU Student Media products need a new strategy and stronger revenues to continue producing excellent products and providing valuable experience to our students.

I blogged earlier today, in response to a story in the Advocate, about our process for developing a new strategy.

The Advocate’s reporter, Elizabeth Crisp, asked me for revenue figures for her story. I could not provide the figures in time for her story, but here’s what I emailed her this afternoon:

Total Student Media revenue for FY 2015 (all numbers are FYs): $1.4 M. Total operating loss for 2015: $128K. (The loss is covered by a rainy day fund whose name I do not remember, but this was a huge chunk of its balance.)

2014 total revenue for Reveille: $712K, including $219K in student fees. Total expenses: $854K. Loss: $142K

2015 total revenue for Reveille: $563K (a drop of 21 percent): Subtract the student fees, which were $219K both years, and the drop in advertising was 30 percent. Loss: $283K.

I am optimistic that we can turn that around with some new products and with a successful new professional leader for our advertising and marketing teams. And I had some pleasant news on the revenue front this week:

Our Tiger Survival Guide, a print product mailed to incoming freshmen and distributed in the dorms, brought in $14,759 in sales. Last year we got $7,303 for this product and we had budgeted $10,650 for the sales this year. We’re still down from $15,128 in 2013 and $21,671 in 2012, but we are celebrating a significant, if small, change in direction. (These are not fiscal years, since the product comes out in the first month of the fiscal year, the summer before; I had the fiscal-year numbers in my message to Elizabeth, but clarified them here.)

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Advocate storyLast week Elizabeth Crisp of the Advocate emailed me saying she wanted to write a “story about the direction things could be heading and your thoughts on the future of student media at LSU.”

I had four reactions in rather rapid succession:

  1. Why do I have to deal with this already?
  2. What took so long?
  3. For more than 20 years, I have said it’s an important experience for journalists to be the the subjects of journalism. I can’t complain (much) when it happens to me.
  4. It must be time to widen the conversations we’ve been having internally for more than two months.

Elizabeth’s story generated an immediate and strong reaction among alumni and staff of the Daily Reveille, because the focus of her story was our consideration of cutting back the frequency of print publication.

If you want to read Elizabeth’s story first, I hope you’ll come back and read my explanation of what’s going on and how LSU Student Media alumni can participate. But I’ll post the link again at the end if you’d rather hear from me first.

My student media consulting

I’ll start with some background: I have been advocating for years that professional journalists and news organizations need to move more swiftly to embrace and figure out their digital future. Because I harp a lot about linking, I thought about hyperlinking “advocating for years” to an earlier post. But that would just have to be my home page. More than anything else, this blog has been about the skills, tools, ethics, business and leadership of digital journalism. (more…)

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Molly Holmgren

Molly Holmgren

I am pleased to announce that Molly Holmgren is joining LSU Student Media next Monday to lead our advertising and marketing teams.

Molly brings a wealth of experience to Student Media, most recently as an integrated project manager and account executive at Zehnder Communications in Baton Rouge. She also has worked in advertising, marketing and community organizing for Otey White and Associates, Capital Area United Way, Louisiana Delta Service Corps and Concept Group.

Molly will direct the student teams that sell advertising to support The Daily Reveille, Tiger TV, Legacy magazine, Gumbo yearbook, lsureveille.com and other digital products we might launch. The teams also sell transit ads on Tiger Trails buses and underwriting for KLSU-fm radio. Molly’s students design ads, market Student Media and plan events. She will be a key player as we develop new Student Media products and plan revenue strategies for them and guide the students in generating revenue to support those products.

In interviews earlier this month, she made a quick and strong connection to the students she will be leading. As a courtesy to the candidate, I try to stick pretty close to the day’s schedule when we have someone in for an interview. So when the 11 a.m. time slot for my chat with Molly came up, I went to the colleague’s office where I thought she would be interviewing. No one there. I wandered down the hall and learned that the colleague had brought Molly down to meet some of the advertising and marketing students.

Molly was deeply engaged in a conversation with one of our student leaders. Hey, that’s exactly what I want, a leader who excites students about the challenges and opportunities of generating revenue to support Student Media. I backed away and told my colleague to bring Molly my way when she wrapped up with the student. I didn’t get my turn to talk to her until after 11:15. And that was OK. That 15 minutes with the student probably told me more than 15 more minutes of Q&A with me. (By the way, the Q&A went well, too.)

The student also met with Molly on schedule that afternoon along with other students. I sent the students a questionnaire, asking their impressions. The responses from the student who threw off my schedule pretty much described what I was looking for in an ad director:

I felt like I could trust her and that she could walk in here and immediately turn things around.

She’s been a project manager, account executive, and coordinated events for United Way. I feel like she has strong leadership experience.

She has a lot of experience when it comes to servicing the account and customer service. She also has experience in negotiating.

She is familiar with selling and marketing on different digital media including: social media, apps, mobile, and online.

I really liked her! She’s easy to talk to, but also gets straight to the point and doesn’t mess around.

All the questions we asked her she answered quickly and efficiently.

That matched my own impressions and observations. And it described the person I wanted to hire. So I did.

Molly’s a graduate of Winona State University who moved to Louisiana to join her husband, Per, who’s been working in sales in Baton Rouge for 10 years.

They live near the LSU campus with their Bernese Mountain Dog, Bernie. She’s biked Hawaii’s big island, run more half marathons than she can remember and two marathons. That’s good (if a little intimidating). We’re planning to go the distance here in Student Media, so I’m glad to have leaders with stamina.

I can’t wait to get started working with her.

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