By Sophie Cannon, Bulletin Correspondent

It might be the most innovative and ambitious attempt at interacting with an audience ever attempted at a New England Newspaper and Press Association convention.

For this year’s convention, not only will the substance of a session be solicited from the audience; the panelists for the session itself are being recruited from the prospective audience.

The initiative is being carried out for a session titled “Thriving not just surviving!” The session’s goal is to collect ideas that have succeeded in netting increases in advertising revenue and to present them to those at the session. The creators of at least some of the ideas also will be invited to be panelists at the session.

Topping off all that, the ideas will be published in a “Great Idea Book” that will be available for sale at the convention.

Sean McKenna
Sean McKenna

“Our goal is to review the great ideas tendered in hopes of identifying several that would be the most transferrable to other (newspapers) to use for their own markets,” Mark A. French said.

French is advertising director of The Republican,, and El Pueblo Latino, all based in Springfield, Mass. He also is on the board of directors of NENPA’s Marketing and Advertising Council.

“We would contact the authors of the ideas selected and ask if they would serve on a panel where they could share more details with the attendees of the session at the conference in February,” he said.

Sean McKenna, chairman of the NENPA’s Marketing and Advertising Council Chairman of NENPA, sent an email note to NENPA member newspapers soliciting advertising ideas for the session and the book.

“Revitalizing our newspapers has led to innovative and diverse ways to engage our print audiences and generate advertising revenue born from great ideas by you and other valued NENPA members,” McKenna wrote. “The information will be compiled to create an easy-to-read reference that will accompany the Great Ideas session at the NENPA conference.”

The session’s panelists will explore advertising ideas that work not only to generate revenue, but to engage audiences, maintain readership, and otherwise help newspapers prosper.

French’s role in planning the session was to integrate the “Great Idea Book” with the convention itself.

French argues that print newspapers are still as important as ever, and that newspapers should strive to do far better than just staying afloat.

“Newspapers in their traditional print form have suffered with the migration of audiences to (obtain) news and information on the internet,” French said. “Despite this, there is still a huge constituency of loyal newspaper readers who still enjoy all aspects of the daily experience brought by their hometown source of content that’s important to them. Advertisers can still harness the power of newspapers by appealing to these audiences. In short, newspaper advertising still works.”

The “Great Idea Book” will be sold at the convention for $100 after the panel session..

The convention is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf hotel.

“‘Borrowing’ just one idea could generate thousands of incremental dollars through its implementation,” French said. “Now that’s worth the price of admission, right?”

Mark French
‘”Borrowing” just one idea could generate thousands of incremental dollars through its implementation. Now that’s worth the price of admission, right?’

–Mark French, Advertising Director
The Republican,,
El Pueblo Latino
Springfield, Mass.