Classified Conference Gets High Marks

Attendees especially effusive in praising all-day workshops.

The first AAN Classified Conference was a huge success, according to a post-conference survey completed by those who attended the event. A total of 41 surveys were returned by the 92 publishers and classified managers who attended the conference, which was held November 3-4 in Dallas. Over 90 percent graded the confab a one or two on a scale of five.

Attendees were especially enthusiastic about the all-day workshops hosted by consultants Kathryn Thornton and Andrew Wetzler. Seventy-nine percent called Wetzler’s seminar “excellent” (the highest rating), while a full 20 out of the 22 people polled said the same about Thornton’s presentation.

“I could have listened to her for days,” Missoula Independent Classified Manager Lorie Rustvold said about Thornton’s class, which was designed for papers with small classified departments. “I had many more questions but this initial round was great! I appreciated her back and forth style of communicating.”

Molly Zanone, classified ad manager for the Memphis Flyer, agreed. “Absolutely incredible!!!” she wrote on her evaluation form. “Most useful thing I have ever attended in any conference, anywhere! This seminar alone was worth [twice] the cost of the trip.”

Wetzler’s audience also gushed over his “Results-Driven Telesales” workshop, which was designed for larger papers. “Great presenter, really substantive,” said Chicago Reader Publisher Jane Levine. “(He) let us participate, but he kept control of the day.”

Seattle Weekly Classified Ad Manager Laura Glass said “Andrew’s presentation was amazingly informative and interesting”, while Pacific Sun’s Jeanie Johnson said it was “excellent … the best yet at an AAN conference.”

When asked to choose whether AAN should host another classified conference next year, or put more emphasis on the classified stream at the convention, 80 percent of the respondents opted for another classified conference.

“I felt that it was a more effective conference because it was primarily classified people,” Arkansas Times Ad Director Phyllis Britton commented. Classifieds is “what we were there for and everyone was talking about classifieds. Also, those in attendance greatly appreciated the special attention and acknowledgement of the value of their department.”

Britton, who is also Advertising Chair on the AAN Board of Directors, later added, “I believe classifieds has frequently felt like the ugly step-child and we need to change that perception.”

John Saltas, publisher of Salt Lake City Weekly and Mountain Times, favored an exclusive conference for other reasons.

“There were fewer distractions for attendees, who also avoided info overload,” he wrote. “The downside is no interaction with other departments as at the main convention, but, so what?”