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CONVENTION RECAP: Power sessions yield immediate, impactful discussions among colleagues


Dorothy Leavell (left), editor and publisher of the Crusader Group in Chicago, reacts during a conversation with Kara Demirjian Huss of DCC Marketing, during Huss' power session "Meet The Media Buyer" during the Illinois Press Association/Foundation Convention on Thursday, Aug. 11, at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Springfield. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)


For Illinois Press Association

SPRINGFIELD – A return to an in-person convention this year also meant the return of power sessions.

The roundtable discussions during power sessions last 25 minutes as convention-goers go from table to table to talk with presenters. There were three power sessions during this year’s convention Aug. 11-12 at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel. Each included three 25-minute discussions.

There were eight tables during the Thursday morning session, nine on Thursday afternoon and five on Friday morning. Topics ranged from brainstorming new revenue opportunities for weekly newspapers, creating success with events, covering climate change in your community, and addressing news literacy in your nondaily newspaper. Convention-goers were encouraged to attend sessions that best fit their needs and interests.

Rinda Maddox, publisher and owner of the Sidell Reporter, was one of Thursday morning’s presenters. She purchased the nondaily newspaper for $1 in 1991 after having worked there as a typesetter since 1985. Today, the Sidell Reporter covers five communities and annually wins many Illinois Press Association contest awards. Her table’s focus was on generating new revenue ideas to help weekly newspapers.

“I sat down and thought of some of the revenue ideas I’ve had. Probably every one of these ideas came from the same roundtable at a previous year,” Maddox said.

One idea that Maddox presented was a notepad that included a coupon for six free editions of the paper.

“We’ve got to keep our subscriptions up or we lose out and one of the things that we have done is notepads,” she said. “The first page is a coupon for six free papers and when we are at parades or the Strawberry Festival and we have a booth set up, we hand these out. Everyone wants a notepad.”

Free editions of the paper allow consumers to learn what content is being offered and decide if they would like to subscribe.

Maddox estimates that about half of those who are given a notepad subscribe after the free trial period ends.

Sean Finch, sales director for Creative Circle Media, manned another table, leading discussions on sales pro tips.

“In media sales, it’s totally fluid, everything can change at the drop of the hat, so you always have to be aware of the landscape,” Finch said.

Finch also encouraged attendees to learn their clients’ needs and build a relationship with clients.

“it’s not a one-size-fits-all, these are the options I’ve chosen based on our relationship and our conversations on where I really want to pinpoint you and you should take advantage of [these],” Finch said.

 “Once you get to the level where people trust you, it is OK to disturb their complacency. You need to do that …and have the conviction and passion.”

At their table, Jackie Martin and Mark Lukas from The News-Gazette in Champaign discussed creating success with events and customizing a package to fit customers’ needs.

“People have print packages, have radio packages, so we try to make it supplemental or incremental to any current things that they already have,” Lukas said. “Which is why they might want to take out the radio because they already have radio, so we’ll push the package then to digital and print.”

The table also included conversation on how to create events with limited staff and resources. Partnering with other organizations that already have events scheduled is a great way to reduce liability and manage staffing concerns.

“If you have staffing challenges, maybe there is an event out there that you could get a piece of and make it bigger and better for them and make it a revenue generator platform for yourself,” Lukas said. “You bring print and digital and other elements to the table and ask if you can come in to run a certain aspect of it at the fair or at the event that exists, and ‘Can we come in and do this’ and we find that to be a revenue generating platform for us”

Virtual events such as job fairs are also a good tool to use when dealing with limited resources, as they can be a revenue source with less effort than an in-person event.

Bev Sams, director of advertising and marketing with the Daily Journal in Kankakee, focused her session on how to sell advertisers an audience.

“You hear that nobody is reading the newspapers anymore and that is just so far from the truth,” said Sams, who has more than 29 years of experience in newspapers. “It’s really important to know who is reading it, (and) what are your audience numbers. That way you can talk to your customers about it.”

Sams also discussed increasing online page views through content creation and audience analysis through tools such as Google analytics.

“Our team looks at our Google analytics on a daily basis,” she said. “When I first got there I think our page views were around 750,000 so the editor and I worked really hard and we hired a digital person on the newsroom side to do digital content and manage our website. Our goal was to hit 1 million and now we are at almost 1.2 million monthly. We start a lot of our stories online.”



Ken Campbell, business development manager for AdCellerant, speaks during a power session Thursday, Aug. 11, at the IPA/IPF convention in Springfield. AdCellerant has an advertising technology platform that oversees, manages and enhances clients' digital marketing efforts. Campbell's session was conducted along with IPA Director of Revenue Sandy Pistole and was titled "Selling With Illinois Press Advertising Services." (Photos by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)



Capitol News Illinois Bureau Chief Jerry Nowicki (right) talks with convention-goers during his power session Thursday afternoon, Aug. 11, at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Springfield. Pictured with Nowicki are Kathy Farren (left), a member of the Illinois Press Foundation Board, and Jerry Whitney, co-owner and publisher of the Carroll County Review and also an IPF Board member. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)



Jackie Martin, sales manager of The News-Gazette in Champaign, talks about Success With Events during a power session Aug. 11 at the Illinois Press Association/Foundation convention in Springfield. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)



Convention-goers look at an example of a notepad with a coupon for 6 free editions that readers of The Sidell Reporter received recently. Rinda Maddox, the paper's owner and publisher, talked about the notepads during a power session Aug. 11. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)



Jennifer Heintzelman, publisher of Sauk Valley Media, talks with convention-goers during her power session about Breathing New Life Into Old Ideas on Aug. 11. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)



Dave Storey, senior vice president key accounts from Coda, speaks during a power session at the convention on Aug. 11. Coda is an ROI-driven research and consulting firm. (Photos by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)



Dennis Anderson (center), Shaw Media vice president of news & content development, presents his power session "Reader and Revenue Project" on Thursday, Aug. 11. (Photo by Sarah Rogers for Illinois Press Association)



Tucker Kennedy, communications director for Ameren Illinois, gives a power session on energy prices and availability Aug. 12 during the IPA/IPF convention. (Photo by Jeff Rogers of Illinois Press Foundation) 



Larry Lough, editor of The Woodstock Independent talks with staff members from The Hinsdalean during a power session Aug. 12. (Photo by Jeff Rogers of Illinois Press Foundation)



Madison Lammert, formerly a reporter with the Republic-Times of Waterloo, talks to convention-goers along with Editor Corey Saathoff (left) about a reporting project she and the newspaper did about news literacy. Lammert, now a Report For America reporter at a Wisconsin newspaper, returned to the convention to present power sessions on Aug. 12. (Photo by Jeff Rogers of Illinois Press Foundation)


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Press Releases



September 19, 2022
Contact: Alison Maley
Phone: (217) 299-3122


Illinois Principals Association to host 'Leaders of Hope' Conference in October

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Principals Association will host its 51st Education Leaders Annual Conference and Exhibition, “Leaders of Hope,” Oct. 16-18 in Springfield. The annual conference provides an opportunity for principals and other administrators to learn from leaders in the education field and participate in sessions to better serve their schools.   

2022-2023 IPA President Raúl Gastón shared, “Although we must pause to acknowledge the realities of the past two years and the challenges we have collectively faced globally, we cannot and must not remain in that space. As leaders in our respective communities, it is our inherent obligation to do our absolute best to help our students and staff move forward. Leaders of Hope is focused on providing all who attend experiences and opportunities to bring hope back to their school through exemplary presenters and topics. Every school leader owes it to themselves to be a leader of hope, and I cannot wait to share in this journey alongside them in Springfield this October.” 

The Educational Leaders conference will begin Sunday with a golf tournament at The Rail Golf Club. The IPA Board of Directors, IPA Congress, Legislative Committee, and School Leader Networks will meet Sunday afternoon at the Abraham Lincoln Doubletree Hotel. The first day concludes with a welcome reception sponsored by Association Member Benefits Advisors (AMBA) at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum to honor IPA Past Presidents. 

The conference will include presentations from keynote speakers Matt Mayberry, Illinois State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala, and Dr. Robyn R. Jackson.  Small group sessions at the conference include timely topics such as: leading with resilience, creating a restorative school culture, trauma-informed leadership, school leader recruitment, and social-emotional learning strategies.   

The first general session on Monday morning will feature Matt Mayberry, a former linebacker for the Chicago Bears who is now an internationally acclaimed keynote speaker and leading global expert in leadership development, culture change, and organizational performance. Matt took the lessons he learned on the field and in the locker room straight to the board room. These lessons as an athlete have been instrumental in helping him build stronger leadership teams and execute high–impact cultural transformations, enhancing the performance of organizations in every sector for over a decade. Mayberry will present his keynote, “Driving Hope as a Transformational Leader” Monday morning, followed by a breakout session entitled “Winning Plays for Educational Leaders.” 

Speakers at the second general session on Monday afternoon include Dr. Carmen Ayala, Illinois State Superintendent of Schools, and Raúl Gastón, 2022-2023 IPA President. IPA Principal of the Year awards, the Reaching Out & Building Bridges Award, and the Mr. John Ourth & Dr. Fred W. Singleton Professional Development Scholarships will also be presented at this session.  

Conference attendees will gather Monday evening at “The Future is Strong with You” Gala, sponsored by Books Are Fun, at the Abraham Lincoln DoubleTree Hotel ballroom.  

Dr. Robyn Jackson, CEO of Mindsteps, Inc., will begin the conference Tuesday morning with her presentation, “How to Protect Your Confidence.” She will also host a breakout session following her presentation on setting a vision for success for 100% of students, how to make that success possible in the next 3 years and do it with the people and resources leaders already have. Dr. Jackson combines her experience as a high school English teacher and middle school administrator to help educators develop rigorous instructional programs that provide students with the support and motivation they need to reach or exceed standards.  

The conference will conclude on Tuesday with IPA’s own Brian Schwartz, Deputy Executive Director and General Legal Counsel, and Alison Maley, Government and Public Relations Director, as they provide an update on the education-related laws passed during the 2022 Illinois Legislative Session.  Schwartz and Maley will also discuss the upcoming general election, hot topics likely to be addressed in the 2023 Session, and how school leaders can stay up to date on the legal and legislative items that impact their schools. 

For more information about the IPA or to register to attend, please visit www.ilprincipals.org

The Illinois Principals Association is a leadership organization which serves over 6,100 educational leaders throughout the state of Illinois and whose mission is to develop, support, and advocate for innovative educational leaders. 





September 14, 2022
Contact: Ron Hylla
Phone: (320) 492-6411


Railroad Retiree Informational Conference
being held in Naperville

CHICAGO – The National Association of Retired and Veteran Railway Employees, Inc (NARVRE) will hold a Railroad Retiree Informational Conference in the Chicago area. The conference will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, beginning at 10 a.m., at the Naperville Municipal Center, located at 400 S. Eagle St. in Naperville. The conference will inform railway workers and retirees about their pension benefits under the Railroad Retirement Act, along with information on Medicare enrollment and asbestos awareness illnesses. There is no charge for your attendance and participation. Spouses are welcome. Pick-up materials will be available.

Pensions under the Railroad Retirement Act differ from those paid under the Social Security Act, a fact not generally known by the non-railroad public. There are more than 37,000 retired railroaders and spouses receiving Railroad Retirement in the state of Illinois.

In charge of the program will be NARVRE National Vice President Ron Hylla. Also appearing will be NARVRE National President George Boatwright and NARVRE National Secretary-Treasurer Phil Stewart. Other speakers will be from TLC Insurance Group and Jones Granger law firm. The guest speaker will be the former Labor Member from the U. S. Railroad Retirement Board, Walt Barrows.

Assisting in presenting materials will be Area Four Director Gary Nelson, Area 6 Director Gary Marquart and Jeff Doerr.



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