A View From the (Willis) Tower:

Executive Voices returns for high-level industry analysis, solutions


Executive VOICES, the unique, executives-only, newspaper exclusive discussion event returns to Willis Tower in Chicago, Dec. 10-11, with a new format for the networking event the night before and more time-sensitive discussion topics than previous events.

The 2019 Voices program will be a banner event for the new association formed from the merger of Inland Press Association and SNPA.  

"Executive VOICES is an extraordinary meeting for top-level networking and sharing ideas – and it will be even better this year after SNPA and Inland combine their memberships," said Edward VanHorn, executive director of SNPA. "Last year, the executives who attended this meeting left Chicago with new solutions to their most pressing challenges, and ideas to improve their businesses.  I hope you will plan to attend!" 

"VOICES was designed so that every newspaper leader in attendance would be part of the conversation," said Patty Slusher, Inland's director of membership and programming. "As part of the on-going program, we survey previous participants and ask them to tell us what they like about the conference and what they want to see changed. This year they told us, 'more networking time' was important to them and asked that we find a way to hold at least one discussion topic open until just before the event so that whatever is top of mind in December can be added to the agenda at the last minute."

VOICES is limited to 65 top newspaper decision-makers and sold out early the last two years. More than 95 percent of participants say they like the no holds barred discussion format. Top down PowerPoint presentations are basically banned in favor of audience participation and engagement in finding the solutions to the most pressing issues and vexing problems facing newspapers today. Industry peers lead the spirited and lively topical discussions and encourage everyone to get involved.

Discussion topics this year will reflect current realities as newspaper executives adapt to rapidly changing market conditions and future opportunities evolve. Included this year will be such topics as:

  • Digital Innovations That Work
  • New Revenue From Scalable Partnerships
  • Customer Engagement and the Future of Content
  • Achieving Visionary Management

"VOICES is different from the ordinary newspaper conference where a series of talking heads present and the audience listens statically," Slusher said. "At VOICES, members of the audience become the presenters of ideas, innovations and success stories themselves. Every leader is urged to voice his or her opinions and suggestions, every idea is respected, every voice is heard. VOICES is really an 'un-conference' because it turns the whole model of how conferences work on its head. It can get chaotic at times, but – in the end – the discussions are highly productive because of the high level of executives in the room."

While there has always been a networking event on the eve of the day-long VOICES conversation, this year participants asked that the time for talking with industry peers in a fun, informal environment be extended. There will be a longer cocktail hour for mingling and conversation and less of a formal dinner.

In addition, the programming team is working on a way for one discussion topic to be determined in real time so that participants can really drill down on something that is especially important to them and top of mind precisely at the time of the meeting. Still, ample time will be given for discussion of each topic so that the leaders will be able to take away actionable ideas that can be put to use immediately.

Invitations have gone out to last year's participants who have a right of first refusal for their participation this year. Registration for other newspaper executives will open soon.

"It's a small room with a beautiful view, filled with some of the best minds in the business in an intimate atmosphere," Slusher said. "Participation is strictly limited to just 65 newspaper decision-makers. We don't want to change that because participants tell us it's the perfect size for everyone with something important to say to get involved. These are the industry leaders  who want to drive and solidify the future success of newspapers."

Anyone interested in attending this year should email pslusher@inlandpress.org or call (847) 795-0382 to secure their place at the table for this forward-looking discussion.



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