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January Spring






CONVENTION RECAP: Print and Digital Do Mix!


Panelists (from left) AnnMarie Morris, sales director for January Spring; John Galer, owner and publisher of Hillsboro Journal Inc.; Jason Hegna, vice president of sales and revenue for Shaw Media; and James Bengfort, associate publisher for Illinois Times in Springfield, talk during the session "Print and Digital Do Mix!" 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 – John Galer’s message during the first session of the first in-person Illinois Press Association/Foundation convention since 2019 was straightforward.

“If you don’t have something digital, you’re not going to have an audience in the long run,” said Galer, owner and publisher of Hillsboro Journal Inc.

Galer was a panel member during the “Print and Digital Do Mix!” discussion on Thursday, Aug. 11, at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel. Also on the panel were AnnMarie Morris, sales director for January Spring, Jason Hegna, vice president of sales and revenue for Shaw Media, and James Bengfort, associate publisher for Illinois Times in Springfield.

The fireside chat style panel, as described by Morris, emphasized the importance of combining digital with traditional print products.

Offering digital content with print content not only increases the total buy but benefits the client with more audience engagement and market penetration.

“I use the McDonald’s philosophy,” Bengfort said. “If McDonald’s thought that they could make more money just selling burgers they would just sell burgers, but they do sell their combo meals, which is what our goal is to do, …to increase that total buy as long as it’s doing a good job for the client because we want them to be benefited.”

There has been some push back in the industry from people who feel that print advertising is a safer, more profitable option as opposed to digital advertising. Bengfort argues that in the long -term, bundles and combo packages offer more revenue and broader service to the client.

“There are some clients that we can’t deliver the audience based on our pages so we do outsource or look for other things that will do what that client needs to reach that specific audience,” Bengfort said.

Galer created a successful combo that combined print and digital advertising that appealed to clients such as health care agencies that serve the community. Galer’s focus is on community journalism and has found that the combo packages serve his clients well.

“The promo that I started early on with the quarter-page and the banner has been very successful for the right customer,” Galer said.

One popular digital tool being used to reach specific audiences are newsletters that can be tailored to fit a certain demographic that advertisers are trying to reach.

“Newsletters have become really big for us,” Hegna said. “We’ve been really segmenting out—we have morning update newsletters, we have breaking news newsletters, we have town specific newsletters. I think our email list has gotten over half a million [subscribers].”

Newsletters provide data analytics that represent quantitative proof of which audiences are being reached and how many engagements are occurring with the advertiser’s message.

“Our newsletter, like Jason said, is the most engaged because the reporting,” Bengfort said. “I can send a report back to the clients saying ‘122 people just clicked on your banner ad when they clicked on this story,’ so its quantifiable proof.”

A simple open of a newsletter is no longer a valuable measure of audience engagement after Apple made a change to its email platform in January. The change is meant to enhance privacy protections for Apple users but has made it more difficult to analyze email campaign effectiveness.

“In January of this year, Apple made a change on their email platform which is essentially showing that every email being sent to and opened on an Apple device is an open whether or not they are opening it, so open rates are no longer the measure that we are looking for and are no longer relevant,” Morris said.

Contests and promotions are also a popular option being used to reach a wide array of markets because audiences find them entertaining.

“We have a miniature butter cow contest sponsored by Prairie Farms Dairy because in 2020 there wasn’t a [State] fair, …so we created this sponsorship contest through Second Street where people uploaded a picture of their creation, it was free to enter and we gave $500 cash prizes away and they were on display for the State Fair but we had opt-in questions for Prairie Farms and had around 600 opt-ins,” Bengfort said.

Another point that was emphasized during the panel discussion is passion and teamwork for a successful campaign

“You can only sell what you believe in. …We started having these all-staff meetings where we were bringing all the reps together and the team together. It really made them feel like they were part of a much larger team,” Hegna said.

Attendees continued the conversation on combining print and digital during power sessions that followed. The round table offered a way to brainstorm ideas with people across a wide range of markets.


John Galer talked about a successful combination of print and digital advertising that appealed to clients such as health care agencies that serve the community. "The promo that I started early on with the quarter-page and the banner ahs been very successful for the right customer," said Galer, whose flagship paper, The Journal-News in Hillsboro, focuses on community journalism. (Photos by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

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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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