Symposium-2017-webThe Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association’s 97th Annual Convention will be held this year from June 1 – 3 at the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino in Calgary. The convention tees up (pun intended) on Thursday, June 1 with the Bing Crosby Memorial Golf Tournament.  On Friday, June 2 the Convention runs during the day and the Awards presentations that evening.  On Saturday June 3, the Professional Development Symposium runs throughout the day and the Presidents’ Banquet wraps things up in the evening. 

Of particular interest to those of you — like me — are curious about what’s of current interest to weekly newspaper publishers in Alberta is the Symposium on Saturday, June 3 from 8:30am to 4:30pm.



awna-Joe-BanksJoe Banks has been an award-winning reporter, photographer, editor, columnist and publisher for seven Ontario rural and suburban community newspapers from 1978 to 2000, and a journalism educator at Ottawa’s Algonquin College from 2000 to present. From 2002-2011, he wrote a twice-monthly rural affairs column for the daily Ottawa Citizen and a humour column for Ottawa Parenting Times magazine from 2012 to 2016. Throughout all of this time, he has kept up with evolving trends in media delivery and journalistic techniques for reporters. Banks has “walked the walk” in community newspaper publishing, having served as a director and vice president on the Ontario Community Newspapers Association through most of the 1990s when he was publisher of the Glengarry News (Alexandria, Ont.) He resides in the rural Ottawa village of Osgoode.



Learn how accessing court and city hall documents like lawsuits (statements of claim and defense), applications for search warrants, land titles, municipal building permit summaries, and more can help you uncover big stories in towns and cities of all sizes. Get the links to important data portals that can provide reporters with a wealth of story ideas – just a mouse click away.


Social media has evolved. Facebook is your community’s online coffee shop, and you should be listening in. Harness its popularity and make it work for you and your readership. We’ll also look at whether Twitter and tweeting is right for you in your market, and lesser-known applications such as Reddit, SnapChat and others. Participants will receive a complimentary 200-page soft copy version of ‘Digital First Journalism’, an e-text created for Algonquin College journalism students.


See how inverting the inverted pyramid through narrative writing style can lift your copy out of the same-old uninspiring story-telling doldrums. Nearly every story you file is a candidate for this engaging writing style, and see how putting people at the center of your copy can breathe new life into even the most routine of assignments.


Writing opinion for a small readership publication can be tough to do week-after-week, especially when the same community issues keep coming up every year. And yet, your readers can’t wait to read your opinions on local issues each week. Learn how an editorial writer or columnist can keep it fresh and keep the readers coming back for more.


Randy-ShoultsRandy Shoults has excelled in many aspects of professional sales and leadership over his 30-year career.  As a sales professional, he has consistently been a top producer and his abilities as a leader in sales organizations have resulted in increased market share, higher gross margins and reduced turnover.  Randy has been successful in a variety of positions with major Fortune 100 corporations, as well as smaller entrepreneurial companies.  His professional titles have included:  Director of New Business Development, Marketing & Branding Director, Regional Sales Manager and Vice President of Sales & Marketing.  Randy has been a Senior Sales/Management Consultant and Facilitator for ProMax Training & Consulting, Inc. for more than 10 years. He combines contemporary “best practices” and “real-world” application in his sales and management seminars to empower participants with new knowledge that they can immediately apply to improve performance. Randy resides in Omaha, USA.


A2 – Prospecting that Pays 

This session provides a proven prospecting methodology that not only creates sales opportunities, but is also easily implemented and enjoyable. It will provide guidance on proactively preparing a sales strategy each month and determining your individual “magic prospecting number” to achieve your goals and give yourself a raise. You will learn how to successfully approach prospects in a manner that opens doors, and keeps them open, even if prospects initially tell you they are not interested. This session is a must for those that sell, and those that lead sales teams.

B2 – Persuasive Communication that Leads to YES 

This session teaches the secrets of effective communication. It will describe three proven techniques to create interest and generate sales, as well as deliver advertising recommendations that clients will appreciate and accept. You will learn how to prepare a value statement that helps prospects to understand how you can assist them in increasing sales, and how your products can help them achieve their business goals. Think you are currently speaking persuasively? Join the session to learn if you are, or if you just think you are!

C2 – Addressing Objections is as Easy as 1-2-3 

Getting objections during the sales process is expected; however, it can be one of the most frustrating aspects of selling. This session introduces an easy, three-step process to lower resistance and gain agreement that can be put to work immediately. You will also learn the secret weapon to turn prospects into new, excited and long-term customers.

D2 – Creating Campaigns that Sell 

Creating advertising messages that cut through the clutter is a daunting task. This session shares the methods of developing campaigns that capture attention and create consumer action. Topics includes effective messaging to demographic groups, common advertising errors and tips to developing messages that deliver results.


Kevin-SlimpNewspaper veterans remember Kevin Slimp as the guy who developed the PDF printing method. He is also the director of The University of Tennessee Newspaper Institute and formed the Newspaper Academy offering online training to publishers, editors, sales and designers each month AWNA and Kevin Slimp go together like, well, about as well as two things can go together. Kevin is returning to our 2017 Convocation and he tells us he is more excited than ever about visiting with his friends in Alberta. How much does Kevin enjoy Alberta? He took a week-long vacation here in 2016. Kevin has begun a couple of new ventures. In 2016, Kevin formed Newspaper Academy (, which offers online training to hundreds of newspaper publishers, editors, writers, sales staffs photographers and designers each month. Kevin’s syndicated column, The Good Folks of Lennox Valley, is in the middle of its second year with newspapers in 25 states carrying the weekly story of Kevin’s imaginary home town.


A3 – How to Get People to Pick Up Your Paper  

It’s the question on everyone’s mind: How do I get more readers? Kevin Slimp has visited thousands of newspapers over his career, including more than 300 visits on-site over the past three years. He probably knows as much as anyone what makes people pick up papers. He will also share some of the information he has learned from focus groups in this session.

B3 – What’s Going On: A look at what is happening at newspapers today  

If this year has taught us anything, it’s that you can believe everything you hear or read. When experts were telling us our industry was at an end ten years ago, Kevin Slimp began looking behind the noise to see what was really happening in the industry. Over the past two years, Kevin has received much attention for his research to determine what is really happening in our industry. You will walk away with more information than you bargained for.

C3 – What I’ve Learned from the Top Ad Reps in the Business 

Kevin says he sometimes feels like he should be the one paying when he visits a paper. Working with ad reps at newspapers of all sizes has taught Kevin a lot about what works and what doesn’t in newspaper ad sales. In this session, he’s going to share a little of the information he’s learned from the best in the business. Bring two pens: Every ad rep and publisher should attend this session.

D3 – Making Your Pics Pop Off the Page 

What makes some newspaper pics look like they pop off the page while others look drab and flat? Kevin has been teaching photographers, designers and printers how to get the best results from photos in their newspapers and he’s going to share information about photos, color settings, exposure, ink, raw images … well, the list goes on. Bring two pens.

See more about the AWNA’s 2017 Symposium at