Alt-Weekly Start-Up Strategies at AAN West

AAN was established in 1978 to help its member papers thrive. For the first three hours of the 2003 AAN West conference, set for Feb. 7-8 at San Francisco’s Cathedral Hill Hotel, the association will serve another cause: Providing assistance to non-members who are thinking of starting their own paper.

The special seminar on “How to Start an Alternative Paper” will also benefit nascent publishers who have recently taken the plunge. A panel of alt-weekly veterans will cover the basics on topics like circulation, marketing, retail and classified advertising, design and production, and editorial resources: all the things an infant paper needs to survive.

The program is open both to paid delegates and to non-members, who may attend this session only for a fee of $100. (The fee for representatives of companies with annual revenue over $2 million is $300.) Each participant will receive a copy of a model chart of accounts.

“This seminar is especially designed for frustrated journalists who are tired of writing for people who aren’t as smart as they are,” says AAN Executive Director Richard Karpel. “If you think you have a great idea for a new paper, we want to help you get started.”

Of course, AAN hasn’t forgotten where its bread is buttered. AAN West 2003 has a full slate of programming for its members as well.

The display and classified advertising tracks will feature a tiered schedule, with concurrent programming designed for sales reps with varying levels of experience.

For less-experienced classified reps, Fran Beresid-Andrepont’s Saturday seminar will focus on the skills needed to achieve a higher level of goal attainment. Beresid-Andrepont will cover topics such as: self-empowerment; determining your sales power; listening skills; defining features and benefits; selling and upselling; handling questions and objections; cold calling; and customer service.

Tony Roselli will lead an all-day seminar for inexperienced display reps, covering: how to identify your paper’s unique selling features and their benefits; cold calling; overcoming objections; selling frequency; closing techniques; and the characteristics of superior newspaper salespeople.

For ad reps who have been around the block a few times, Saturday morning industry briefings are scheduled, and in the afternoon David Fowler, who received rave reviews for his previous AAN presentations, will lead a joint session for display and classified reps, “How to Become a Great Advertising Sales Rep — and Make More Money, Too!”

Friday afternoon will feature mentoring and AAN CAN sales sessions for classified reps and a “Competitive Media Overview” for display reps led by AAN Sales and Marketing Manager Elaine Clisham.

Fowler switches hats and offers a session Saturday for design and production attendees on “How to Create Highly Effective Print Ads — Every Time,” teaching exactly how people read print ads and how to tailor a “design strategy” to match. Also for design and production attendees, Kat Topaz of Topaz Design in Portland, Ore., leads a session on creative type design, focusing on how to match fonts to design elements to create stunning covers and inside pages.

Saturday afternoon Bert Monroy, a pioneer in digital art, leads an in-depth session on Photoshop, digging in past the basics to Layers, Alpha Channels, and finally Calculations.

For reporters, David Carr of The New York Times will reprise his performance from the 2002 AAN/Medill Alternative Journalism Writing Workshop, leading Friday sessions on “Where to Look for Great Stories,” “Beat Reporting: Getting Started, the Care and Feeding of Sources, and How Not to Go Native,” and “Deconstructing an Instant Classic: William Langewiesche’s ‘American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center.'”

On Saturday, Carr will be joined by Michael Tisserand, editor of Gambit Weekly, and Tim Redmond, executive editor of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, who will focus on basic reporting skills for arts writers. For news reporters, John Mecklin, editor of SF Weekly, will conduct a concurrent session on “Honing an Idea into a Story Pitch an Editor Will Approve.” Mecklin and SF Weekly writer Lisa Davis will also discuss their George Polk Award winning series, “Fallout.”

Pre1 Software and The Media Audit will host a cocktail party on Friday evening that is open to all AAN West registrants, and Verified Audit is sponsoring a coffee break.

For further information, a complete schedule and a registration form, click here. (The same material was mailed this week to AAN members.)

AAN has reserved a block of rooms at the Cathedral Hill Hotel for $89 single or double. The deadline to receive the group rate is Jan. 13. For reservations, call the hotel at (800) 622-0855 and ask for the AAN rate.

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