Where to find affordable circulation training

Jul 31, 2012

By Bob Bobber
Circulation Counts

One of the major complaints I get from smaller newspapers is that they don’t have the resources to have as much circulation talent as they would like. Another complaint is that they can’t afford to have their people attend regional or national meetings that have circulation sessions. Maybe you can do something about it.
I recently attended a circulation meeting for Georgia Circulation Managers in Lawrenceville, GA. The attendees came from all size newspapers including weeklies and dailies. The informal group has been meeting for a while now. It is loosely held together by Dan Montgomery, the circulation director at the Gainesville (GA) Times . They meet three times a year for about four hours (usually from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and a local vendor or host generally picks up lunch.
There is no name, no dues or formal membership application. Come as you are—whoever you are. There is a loose program with Montgomery as the moderator. The overall mission of the meetings is to share ideas, opportunities and problems. With the cutback in travel and training expenses it is an ideal solution.
When I was the vice president of circulation at the Gloucester County Times in Woodbury, NJ, I used to attend similar meetings at Long Branch, NJ. The meetings were always good and no more than 1.5-hours.
Texas has had its own association for years, but Texas Circulation Managers Association is really on par with the Southern Circulation Managers Association or the International Circulation Managers Association because it is so big.
My point here is to encourage other states to form their own state association.
This is by no means a knock on organizations such as SCMA or the Mid-Atlantic Circulation Managers Association. I have supported them for four decades, but unfortunately it costs money to attend and money is tight these days. Many of these associations do allow non-dailies to join or attend their conferences. In addition, there will be times when the problems in Arkansas won’t relate to the problems in Florida and vice versa. I also know that the state press associations generally have a couple of circulation oriented sessions at their annual meetings but they tend to get lost in a larger agenda, which is most often editorial and advertising oriented. Once again, nothing wrong with that, and I encourage circulators to learn about other aspects of the newspaper business, but I just think circulation-only state meetings are great.
If your state doesn’t have a state circulation managers association, group, organization, fellowship or whatever you want to call it, take the lead and start one. Your state press association may be able to help you as well as national vendors such as RAK systems, G and V promotions, Wilson Gregory, PDI, etc. If they don’t help you, which I am sure they will, drop me an e-mail and I will help you out the best I can at rjbobber@bellsouth.net.
I also need to point out that there were publishers there as well as circulators. The only rule was they had to look at things from a circulator’s standpoint and take off their publisher’s hat for a day.
These state organizations allow smaller and as well as larger papers with little or no budget the opportunity to get some much needed help and even some much more needed venting of problems. It seemed to me to be almost therapeutic for the participants. © Bob Bobber 2012

Bob Bobber is a newspaper consultant specializing in circulation sales, training and public speaking. You contact him at rjbobber@bellsouth.net.