New to the program this year, publishers had the unique opportunity to listen and interact directly with a panel of retail advertisers and agency executives. Rich Medeiros, Director of Advertising for the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette moderated the panel, comprised of David Fontana, Chief Media Officer/Director of Consumer Engagement of
UMarketing LLC, Amy Pfeifer, Media Coordinator of Levin Furniture, and Constance Walker, Manager of Customer Communications and Education of PPL Electric Utilities. The panelists brought varying levels of experience to the forum, and all worked in several capacities at their organizations. The dynamic offered a unique and interesting perspective on key issues.
Fontana brought an agency perspective, one of dealing with clients and emphasizing accountability as a strong foundation for business. Pfeifer’s advertising goal is to get the Levin message out in order to drive consumers into the store and buy their products. Walker comes from a utilities background. Though she is not overly reliant on newspaper advertisements, she is always looking for a way to gain new consumers.
The first question raised to the panel by Medeiros was a simple one – why does your organization advertise in newspapers? Both Pfeifer and Walker gave interesting perspectives to this question. While Levin Furniture is a large retailer in the area, it does well with mass advertising. Therefore, Pfeifer uses newspapers to reach a large audience. Walker, however, wanted ideas on how to reach a smaller audience. She tends to shy away from the use of newspapers because the scope is too broad for someone who is looking into specialty markets. Fontana also weighed in on this subject and explained that the newspaper allows his clients to reach consumers on their own terms, in the way they want to be reached – be it tablet, smartphone, laptop computer or printed product.
The discussion then switched to digital advertising. Social media is a topic that is frequently discussed, but Medeiros asked how social media strategies differed between the organizations. While it took Walker and PPL a bit longer to dip into the social media pool, both she and Pfeifer agreed that it shouldn’t be the only way that advertisers reach out to consumers. Fontana supported this point by simply stating that social media should be used to build brand strategy.
A final discussion point related to unique advertisement initiatives the panelists have launched. Pfeifer spoke about philanthropic advertisements and said that being associated with a cause can lead to positive results. Levin hosted a Pet Billboard contest in support of local pet charity, Animal Friendz, that not only earned money for the charity but also increased their number of Facebook fans from 40 to over 300. Walker emphasized the idea of trying new things – different advertising techniques, new creatives and even different sizes of ads in order to garner better results.
All participants gave great tips and advice to publishers about how to engage advertisers and how to help them harness their brands and how to increase brand awareness.