Lee Sales Training


Tom Wiley is currently the Publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal. He has held roles as Lee’s Director of Sales and Vice President of Sales for Lee’s media operations in St. Louis. In addition, he served as Executive Vice President of Publishing for Digital First Media and Chief Executive Officer of the Courant Media Group in Hartford, Connecticut.

Big Rating

In March, all Lee Newspapers ran an article from the Associated Press titled, 60 Minutes; Stormy Daniels get big ratings, some pushback. We are telling the reader that the show got big ratings and we go on to tell them it was the largest 60 Minutes audience in 10 years with 22 million viewers. Tom asks the room if 22 million is big. This portion of the training goes on to discuss the fact that news aggregates a highly educated audience, which is why television runs their news when educated people are home from work. Tom proposes a 10% distribution model where we reduce to 10% reach and asks the room how they would react. The majority of the room says they would look for a job and he reiterates the magnitude of our audience gap to our competitors.


Tom reviews Reach, which is a measurement of exposure as a percentage of the adult population. We also learn about frequency, which is the measurement of the number of times an audience receives your message. The perfect frequency in traditional media is 3. We learn about the GRP and TRP models which were created to measure the effectiveness of an ad campaign across multiple markets using a common denominator. Tom questions the audience about the possibility of a premium model similar to HBO working for our newspapers. What would happen if we charged $30 extra per month and removed all of the ads out of the newspaper? The audience agrees that this would be a horrible model because people expect and want to see our ads.

Value & Audience

The audience is asked what percentage of each age group that our newspapers reach. Tom comes back to this question at the end of the training.

100 Years of Media History Part 1

This portion of the training discusses the evolution of media over the past 100 years. We learn that Newspapers had a monopoly 100 years ago. The only competition was hand painted signs and other newspapers. Many times the same company would own multiple newspapers in the same city. 50 years ago newspaper revenue had doubled and their prevalence had grown. During this same time 3 TV networks were created and local markets had anywhere from 6 to 20 radio stations. Tom discusses the concept of fair share. If there are 3 television stations they each have a fair share of 33.33% of the available audience. 25 years ago newspaper revenue had grown an additional 25%. The consumer then had 300 TV stations and 20 radio stations to choose from. The fair share of a TV station is now 0.33%.

100 Years of Media History Part 2

12.5 years ago we had 1 newspaper in every market, 300 television stations, 20+ radio stations and 1 billion options to divide attention on the internet. recaps the best moments in the history of television and draws attention to the fact that their best moment has lower reach than our current audience by 20 percentage points. Facebook is created in 2004 and we are seeing TV audiences fragmented further. Shelly Lazurus (CEO of Ogilvy & Mather) stated in 2005, “While it once took 3 network shows to reach 80% of American consumers; today it takes 57”. Tom hypothesizes that it is impossible to find 80% reach on television today. Many people feel that the internet killed newspapers, but it actually saved them. It gave them an extra vehicle to deliver the news. We learn about how each form of media measures audience. Radio measures in quarter hours because that is how frequently their audience changes due to commercials. Nielsen measures television in Live + 7 days to include all of the people that DVR shows and skip commercials. Newspaper measures weekly reach of adults only.

Competitive Media Numbers Part 1

During this video we quickly recap the 100 year history of media to reiterate the splintering of media options. Tom discusses why local news aggregates a highly educated audience because these people have personal and financial stakes in their community. We reach wealthy, homeowners with kids who are ready, willing and able to buy our advertiser’s products. Television audiences have been declining for 35 years losing half their audience since 1980. We have lost 27% of our print circulation during this time period, but we have replaced a good portion of it with our digital audience. NBC, ABC and CBS have experienced a 76% decrease in audience from 1980 to 2011. During that same time period their cpm increased 400%. They were able to raise prices to keep revenue flat.

Competitive Media Numbers Part 2

During this portion of the training we discuss how television and radio mislead the advertiser to sell. TV reps do not discuss their 76% decline in audience, they state that everyone has a TV and we are number 1. In reality, their reach is under 10%, but the position it differently. Radio sells the fact that 92% of adults listen to radio. This is true, but you have to run an ad on every station, every quarter hour, 24 hours for 30 days straight.

Positioning Statements on Print

Our newspaper reaches more people locally than the Superbowl and top television shows on each network. We also reach more locally than the top 10 cable stations combined. The consistently preach nationally numbers, but it is our job to show a common denominator of the local population. Our decrease in circulation due to an increase in rates tells a strong story to our advertisers. It tells them that the people that subscribe to us have disposable income and they are loyal to our brand; therefore, they trust our advertisers’ brands.

Positioning Statements Part 2

During this portion of the training we revisit the actual reach numbers for each age group. We have found that it is not usually age, but education level that dictates consumption of local news. Once people reach their acquisition years they start reading news. If they pay taxes, own property and have children news is important to them. This portion also discusses the fact that Facebook has changed their algorithm to make your posts reach 2% of your followers organically. This means that Facebook is useless to advertisers that are not running paid ads on their site.

How Positioning Extends to Digital

This portion of the training discusses how our owned and operated websites greatly outperform ad exchange inventory. Our sites perform well because they are not cluttered with other ads, they are surrounded by quality local content and they are associated with our well respected brand. In the Lincoln Journal Star example our standard inventory and high impact inventory perform 2.7x to 10.4x average exchange inventory respectively. This means that our reveal ads have 3x the cost of the exchange for 10.4x the results. It is our job to educate the advertiser on this arbitrage. We have evidence that these ads are performing at a $104 cpm, but we are selling them for $30. It is 3x the cost of exchange inventory, but it is more valuable. It is also our job to break down confusing click through rates to our customers and explain the results in terms of engagement.

Selling To The Audience

Big pitch, quick pitch, top to top and Edison are all tools to help you achieve revenue goals. It is important that we put an audience value on all new digital offerings instead of selling price and features. We have to sell Edison as a tool to increase reach and frequency. Our audience decline is vastly overestimated and our revenue decline has far outpaced our audience decline. Our audience quality has improved.

Important Takeaways

We do not have an audience problem, we have a perception problem. The best way to fix that is with our local sales organizations.

If we forget to place the inserts in the newspaper, we receive hundreds of calls from angry subscribers. If the television station forgets to run a car dealers ad, the only person that calls is that car dealer. This is an example of ad source to use with every customer. People expect to see ads when they use our products.

Reach extension should only be used as a tool after we have sold our own 80%+ reach. We know that we have the most valuable audience. Television, Radio and Agencies sell reach extension first because they do not have an initial proprietary reach worth selling; therefore, they broker someone else’s audience.