The Niche Media Conference has 4 workshops + 5 tracks:
Publisher Strategy, Ad Sales Training, Audience Growth, Digital Strategy, and
Tech Talks.

Topics and speakers below are subject to change.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024: 

8:00am-4:00pm:  Show Office and Registration Open on 1st floor. Follow signs in the lobby to the Atlantic Ballroom.  PICK UP YOUR BADGE HERE!
8:00am-12:00pm:  Vendor/Sponsor set up in Atlantic B
allroom foyer on the 1st floor.  Follow signs in the lobby.


1:00pm-1:45pm: NICHE KICKOFF CELEBRATION, CASH CUBE, CHICAGO CELEBS, AND MEGA PRIZE GIVEAWAY: Atlantic Ballroom, 1st floor. Get the information you need to make the most of your Chicago Niche experience. This is your first chance to meet other attendees and win over $2,000 in cash and prizes.  Will your name be drawn to enter the Niche Cash Cube? 

2:00pm-4:15pm: NICHE OPENING DAY WORKSHOPS – 100% included for all in your registration!  Choose your focus for an afternoon full of revenue takeaways, brilliant hacks, and new ideas to make 2024 your best year ever! Set the stage for the rest of your Niche Media Conference experience + make connections to hang out with the rest of the week!

Workshop #1 – Audience Development and Marketing Super Session: Back by popular demand, and updated for 2024! Bring your social media, audience growth, and marketing questions and challenges! We’ll spend the afternoon talking about efficient social media posting, new social channel stats and tactics, content sourcing and creation, quick hacks to save time (especially if you are NOT a graphic designer), how to drive audience engagement and conversion using marketing funnels, and more. This is the deep dive you’ve been looking for!
Led by Zach O’Brien of Active Norcal and media audience experts ready to share their tips!


Workshop #2 – Media Sales Training Academy: Niche Media Sales Certification Masterclass with Ryan Dohrn.  For all media sales markets: Selling Value when Advertisers are Focused on Price; Proposal Secrets, Tips & Tricks; Hosting Shorter Advertiser Meetings that Close 40% Faster. Plus quick tactics presented by ad sales experts from SRDS. Bring your media sales questions and challenges to this fast-paced training afternoon!
Hosted by: MediaOS


Workshop #3 – Consumer Publishers Roundtable: For consumer/hobbyist/city & regional publishers only! Bring your niche-specific questions, brainstorming, and venting to this “open mic” afternoon with your peers. Talk sales teams, staff hiring, remote work, print costs, digital tools, overhead, new revenue, inflation concerns, shifting readership, and more. Excellent way to get the ideas flowing and make peer connections to keep chatting with for the rest of the week.
Moderated by Mike Dragosavich, President/CEO of Spotlight Media.


Workshop #4 – B2B Publishers Roundtable: For business audience publishers only! Bring your niche-specific questions, brainstorming, and venting to this “open mic” afternoon with your peers. Talk sales teams, staff hiring, remote work, print costs, digital tools, overhead, new revenue, market shifts, financing, events and more. Excellent way to get the ideas flowing and make peer connections to keep chatting with for the rest of the week.
Moderated by Chris Messer, Vice President & Group Publisher, Endeavor Business Media


Workshop #5 – Editorial and Design Roundtable: New to the Niche Media Conference is an editorial and design focus.  Based on your feedback we are inviting Editors, Designers, and their related staff to discuss and strategize around issues ranging from paying freelancers, copyright issues, custom content creation, finding graphics talent, outsourcing, writing amazing headlines, writing for Google/SEO, media kits, what great design means to revenue, balancing workloads, how to do more with less staff, and so much more.  
Moderated by Bill Ostendorf, Owner of Creative Circle Media Solutions 


4:30pm-6:00pm: SPEED PUBLISHING NETWORKING EVENT AND PARTY in the Atlantic Ballroom – HOSTED BY PUBLICATION PRINTERS!
By popular demand, we are bringing back a Niche attendee event favorite. Think speed dating with a unique twist. This is the ultimate game of networking, fun, and happy hour drinks. DO NOT MISS this fun meet & greet game before you head out for dinner!  99% positive feedback from past attendees!

6:00pm-Midnight: Dinner on your own. Afterwards, join your Niche Media Conference friends at the lobby bar onsite at the Radisson Blu for local cocktails and great conversation. Looking for a great place to eat? Click here.

Thursday, April 18, 2024: 

8:00am-4:00pm: Show Office and Registration Open on 1st floor. Follow signs in the lobby.  PICK UP YOUR BADGE HERE!
8:00am-9:00am: Continental Breakfast Roundtable Chat Sessions: Sit with your team, sit with new friends from yesterday, or sit with a stranger — it’s all about making publishing connections!

9:00am-9:15am: Niche Media Conference Morning Kick-Off with the Cash Cube, and $1,500 in prizes!


9:15am-9:45am – Opening Power Keynote: History Repeats: Lessons from 24 Years in Media
Christine Shaw, CEO & President of Naylor Association Solutions
Media is moving at the speed of light and the general feeling of most publishers and their teams can be summed up as overwhelmed. But all these things that are new often have common roots (and solutions) in things that were happening in media years ago! Christine will share her experiences and dig into some of the commonalities and truly new game-changers that are moving media forward — and how you can manage them. Take a deep breath, and take notes!

Christine Shaw began her career at Pennwell Publishing in 2000, and has held media leader positions since then with Future, InvestmentNews, and Farm Journal. She also hosted a weekly podcast series, Her Success Matters, focused on diversity, equity and inclusion with CEOs, industry leaders, and influencers.


9:45am-10:00am – Sponsor Tour Card Break: Meet your next resource partner & get those Sponsor Tour Cards signed for a chance to win a free pass to the Niche Media Conference in 2025!


10:00am-11:00am – 5 Breakout Sessions: Choose Your Topic!
Breakout #1 – PUBLISHER STRATEGY TRACK: Is Google a Publisher’s Friend, or Enemy #1?
Eric Shanfelt, Founding Partner, Nearview Media
Google has a growing presence in the publishing industry not only through technologies like Google Ad Manager, Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, but through initiatives like Google News Initiative (GNI) and the funding it provides to publishers. Despite some positives, publishers should be wary. There are inherent conflicts of interest as Google is a major industry competitor while simultaneously playing a significant role in education and support for publishers. The ongoing federal antitrust case against Google highlights this complicated relationship. Eric will walk through evaluating publisher reliance on Google services, and how to differentiate your brands by offering unique products and partnerships that Google’s platforms can’t replicate.
Track Host: Publication Printers


Breakout #2 – SALES TRAINING TRACK: Increasing Your Sales Credibility to Drive Your Sales SKY HIGH!
C. Lee Smith, CEO, SalesFuel
Only 1 in 4 U.S. adults views salespeople as credible in what they say and do [The American State of Credibility, 2020]. This means most salespeople start new business relationships from a position of weakness. Based on his 30+ years of research and proven success, Global Sales Credibility Authority C. Lee Smith will show you how to multiply your sales opportunities by attracting the high-value clients you want most, accelerating trust-building, and earning repeat business. Sales credibility is a prerequisite to reaching “trusted advisor” status with clients. This session will enlighten both sales managers and executive leaders on what credibility is, the vital role it plays in sales, and how to use it to gain access to the people and information that close deals.
BONUS: First 50 attendees to the session will receive a copy of C. Lee Smith’s Amazon bestseller SalesCred®: How Buyers Qualify Sellers
Track Host: MediaOS


Breakout #3 – AUDIENCE & MARKETING GROWTH TRACK: The GREAT Research Debate & Interactive Roundtable Discussion
Rick Schumacher, CEO Baxter Research Center , and Paul Sammon, VP of Media at MRI – Simmons
Ready to level up? Learn what other media companies, large and small, are doing to grow their audiences and revenue using top-shelf research. Industry icons Baxter Research and MRI-Simmons will show case studies and examples of what you need to do to leverage data to grow your media business’s most valuable asset — your audience! Plus, live Q&A!


Breakout #4 – TECH TALKS TRACK: New & Emerging Technology Tools & Tactics for Revenue (Not a Sales Pitch!)
Looking for new technology and partners that can drive your revenue UP? Save time by attending this “all in one” track for case studies, product overviews, and lots of Q&A with some of the top digital service providers in the media industry. 
The Magazine Manager: Supercharging Your Sales Efforts Using AI .  
ExpoTrac: Ramp up your events with super fast registration check-in and badges, on-demand and on-location
Track Host: 032 Outsourcing


Breakout #5 – DIGITAL STRATEGY TRACK: Turnkey Revenue Generation – Chicken Soup for the Exhausted Publisher
Chris Johnson, Publisher, Frisco Style Magazine and Publishing strategist at MediaOS
The Publishing Industry isn’t for the faint of heart. Print costs, hiring, content struggles, creative design, and a litany of challenges plague the publisher’s everyday life. How does it get better? How do we achieve real traction, progress, and success? Turnkey Revenue Generation. Join Chris Johnson, owner of Frisco Style and Director of Publishing Strategy for MediaOS, for an entertaining and frank discussion about how technology can be the light at the end of the tunnel – or the oncoming train for those who aren’t prepared.Track Host: January Spring


11:00am-11:30am – Sponsor Tour Card Break: Meet your next resource partner & get those Sponsor Tour Cards signed for a chance to win a free pass to the Niche Media Conference in 2025!


11:30am-12:30pm – 5 Breakout Sessions: Choose Your Topic!
Breakout #1 – PUBLISHER STRATEGY TRACK: Unlocking the Black Box of Magazine Distribution Revenue
Jeffrey Williams, CEO, Magazine Publisher Services
There is big money in larger scale magazine distribution, but most Publishers don’t know how to harness the power within this revenue model. Distribution expert Jeffrey Williams will unlock the secrets and answer all your questions related to this often untapped piece of revenue for consumer and B2B media companies.
Track Host: Publication Printers


Breakout #2 – SALES TRAINING TRACK: Top Secret Tactics to Book Meetings with Decision Makers
Nancy O’Brien, Senior Director of Industry Affairs and Events, AIN Media Group.
Multi-million dollar ad sales veteran Nancy O’Brien will dig deep and explore what you need to do to book more meetings using research, deep client knowledge, and other often untapped information. If you’re looking to grow your Sales business, this is a session you don’t want to miss!
Track Host: MediaOS


Breakout #3 – AUDIENCE & MARKETING GROWTH TRACK: The Post-AI Playbook for Publishers: 5 Moves for Remaining Relevant in an AI-Powered World
Kate Hand, VP, Operations, Gardner Business Media
As Google’s Search Generative Experience torches the terms of its long-standing but informal deal with publishers (you make content; we send traffic; everyone sells ads) – how do we, as media professionals, learn to work with and not against the inevitability of AI? Kate will delve into the evolution of Google that brings us to today, and shed light on why niche publishers are strongly positioned for the future.


Breakout #4 – TECH TALKS TRACK: New & Emerging Technology Tools & Tactics for Revenue (Not a Sales Pitch!)
Looking for new technology and partners that can drive your revenue UP? 
Rasa.io: Revenue Up: AI-Customized Content & Auto-Aggregation.  See this new tool in action!
Parameter:1: From ad reports to content performance, streamline and collate all your reporting with one robust tech tool.
Track Host: 032 Outsourcing


Breakout #5 – DIGITAL STRATEGY TRACK: Publisher Innovation Playbook: 5 Steps to Turn Great Ideas into High Leverage, Money-Making Products for Cheap
Kenny Katzgrau, Publisher, RedBankGreen.com
The content of this session can benefit you for decades! Digital media kits, ad products, new websites, audience engagement and revenue — you might have great ideas but you’re unsure of whether your “web people” can do it, whether your site’s too old, or if it’ll cost too much. The power of niche is in the power to stand out. Kenny Katzgrau, former engineer at Yahoo, Mozilla, Broadstreet and now Publisher of RedBankGreen.com shares his personal system of turning ideas to advertising and content products that any publisher can use, with real-world examples.
Track Host: January Spring


12:30pm-1:45 pm: Atlantic Ballroom:  Power Lunch and Keynote featuring marketing icon Andrew Davis
Artificial Influence: Unleashing the Magic of AI for Niche Publishers
12:30pm-1:00pm: Lunch is served! Sit with a Sponsor and bring your Tour Card for more sign-offs!
1:00pm-1:45pm: Andrew speaks

In this exhilarating 45-minute session, Andrew Davis will explain how to use AI today without destroying valuable audience relationships. Andrew will introduce you to the AI Decision Matrix, a simple framework designed to help you implement AI that works like magic and avoids the pitfalls of AI sorcery. You’ll see the power of AI at work, LIVE, and experience its power to betray. More importantly, you’ll walk away ready to help your team dive deeper into the enchanting world of AI without ruining your audience’s trust.

Andrew Davis is a bestselling author and internationally acclaimed keynote speaker. Before building and selling a thriving digital marketing agency, Andrew produced for NBC’s Today Show, worked for The Muppets in New York and wrote for Charles Kuralt. He’s appeared in the New York Times, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and on NBC and the BBC. Andrew has crafted documentary films and award-winning content for tiny start-ups and Fortune 500 brands.


1:45pm-2:00pm – Sponsor Tour Card Break: Meet your next resource partner & get those Sponsor Tour Cards signed for a chance to win a free pass to the Niche Media Conference in 2025!


2:00pm-3:00pm – 5 Breakout Sessions: Choose Your Topic!
Breakout #1 – PUBLISHER STRATEGY TRACK: Hiring Secrets of a Superstar Media Employment Recruiter
Robert Hawthorne, President, Hawthorne Executive Search
We all know how hard it is to find great talent for our teams. Veteran recruiter Robert Hawthorne will share the latest trends related to the hiring process. This will be a media company specific conversation that will allow you to map your human capital strategies going forward.
Track Host: Publication Printers


Breakout #2 – SALES TRAINING TRACK: 5 Steps to Increasing Your Digital Sales & Closing Ratios
Shannon Kinney, Founder & Client Success Officer, Dream Local Digital and Board Member, Local Media Association
How can you differentiate your digital services from the competition and stand above the crowd? How can reps of varying levels of digital knowledge sell with confidence? Shannon Kinney will explain how to arm your sales team, understand how to bundle print and digital solutions together to serve your clients, how to generate leads, and ways to promote successful solutions.
Track Host: MediaOS


Breakout #3 – AUDIENCE & MARKETING GROWTH TRACK: The Top 5 Ways to Boost Audience Engagement and Subscriptions
Thomas Cousins, former VP at RR Donnelley and now with Kodi Collective
Learn the top strategies for transforming audience engagement and subscription numbers. Perfect for content creators, marketers, and Publishers seeking immediate impact.


Breakout #4 – TECH TALKS TRACK: New & Emerging Technology Tools & Tactics for Revenue (Not a Sales Pitch!)
OMEDA: Delivering an Audience-First Publishing Model
WoodWing: Streamline Your Production – New Tools & Ideas Used by Successful Media Companies
Track Host: 032 Outsourcing


Breakout #5 – DIGITAL STRATEGY TRACK: Taking Your Media Website to the Next Level
Stephanie Carey, Former Publisher of The KC Pitch and currently Sales Director at BLOX Digital
Strategies, tips, and proven ideas to improve the usability and revenue model of your magazine website. See ideas from 30+ media websites that are bringing in big traffic and even bigger revenue!
Track Host: January Spring


3:00pm-3:30pm – Sponsor Tour Card Break: Meet your next resource partner & get those Sponsor Tour Cards signed for a chance to win a free pass to the Niche Media Conference in 2025!


3:30pm-4:30pm: Afternoon Power Keynote: Driving Customer Loyalty Through the Roof: The Loyalty Loop
Andrew Davis
It turns out one of the most effective ways to grow our business isn’t filling a funnel with low-quality leads. Instead, treat your loyal clients as your most valuable asset. The Loyalty Loop leverages your existing clients (or subscribers) to drive a steady stream of highly valuable, high-margin, new business. Andrew will help you learn how to build anticipation, harness the honeymoon period, and drive inspirational moments that result in new business. Re-think the way you win over new clients and transform the way you service the customers you already own. Embrace the Loyalty Loop!


4:30pm-6:00pm: HAPPY HOUR PARTY IN “THE PARK” – HOSTED BY 032 OUTSOURCING AND JANUARY SPRING!
Join us for fun, drinks, and blues music in the Radisson Blu Garden, outside on ground level.

6:00pmMidnight: Dinner on your own. Afterward, join your Niche Media Conference friends at the lobby bar onsite at the hotel for local cocktails and great conversation. Looking for a great place to eat? Click here.V

Friday, April 19, 2024: 

8:00am-12:00pm: Show Office and Registration Open
8:00am-9:00am: Continental Breakfast Roundtable Chat Sessions: Sit with your team, sit with new Niche friends, or sit with a stranger – it’s all about making publishing connections!
9:00am-9:15am: Niche Friday Kickoff with featuring a BIG TIME celebrity blast from the past, the CASH CUBE AND $1,500 in Prizes!


9:15am-10:00am: Morning Power Keynote: Loving Life, One Media Moment at a Time
Audarshia Townsend, Content Director, Food & Beverage Insider
Chicago media celebrity tells her tale of growing, living, and embracing media change in Chicago! Audarshia will shaer her lessons learned and give insights on the future of media around the world. Wake up and get ready to kick off the last day of the conference with some fun!  

A lifelong Chicagoan, Audarshia Townsend is a veteran food and beverage journalist who serves as Content Director for Informa Markets/SupplySide’s Food & Beverage Insider brand. She is a regular contributor to FOX-32 Chicago’s “Good Day Chicago” show, and a contributing features writer for Chicago Magazine.


10:00am-10:30am – LAST CHANCE! Sponsor Tour Card Break: Meet your next resource partner & get those Sponsor Tour Cards signed for a chance to win a free pass to the Niche Media Conference in 2025!


10:30am-Noon – 5 Breakout Sessions: Choose Your Topic!
Breakout #1 – PUBLISHER STRATEGY TRACK: The Great Media Kit Makeover
Jim Nissen, President & Creative Director, Command+Shift+Option
Will your company’s media kit be featured? Most publishers put a ton of work into their media kits, only to find out they are confusing to buyers AND to the sales team! This fast-paced, interactive session will look at a real publishing media kit for a real-time, constructive makeover to “make it rain”. Take notes for your media kit or bring a copy to show off and ask questions about — it can only get better! Additional tips include how marketing and sales can work together to create a useful, sales-closing media kit together, how to present print, digital and blended options, and more.
Track Host: Publication Printers


Breakout #2 – SALES TRAINING TRACK: Multi-Million Dollar Media Reps Tell ALL!  
Nancy O’Brien, Senior Director of Industry Affairs and Events, AIN Media Group, hosts an all-star panel of multi-million dollar media reps like Barb Montagano – Chicago Style Weddings, Paul Hoefer – Fargo Monthly, and Zach O’Brien-ActiveNorcal . These four top media sellers will share their top three inside secrets to selling millions. Plus, they will answer your burning questions LIVE!  This is one sales session you will not want to miss.  
Track Host: MediaOS


Breakout #3 – AUDIENCE & MARKETING GROWTH TRACK: The Audience Development Funnel
Eric Shanfelt, Founding Partner, Nearview Media
Struggling with web traffic, email subscriptions, social media followers, or building your paid / controlled circulation? In this session, Eric will show you the audience development funnel … a methodical approach to building your publication’s audience at all levels. You will learn the best tactics for each stage of the audience development funnel and what pitfalls to look out for. You’ll also learn what aspects of audience development are a waste of time and money.


Breakout #4 – TECH TALKS TRACK: New & Emerging Technology Tools & Tactics for Revenue (Not a Sales Pitch!)
AdOrbit:  Decoding Tomorrow’s Advertising: Lessons and Trends from 2023    
Quintype:  Using AI to create, distribute, and monetize your content.
AdCellerant: Pre- and Post-Sale Tools to Sell and Retain More Digital Ad Dollars


Track Host: 032 Outsourcing

Breakout #5 – DIGITAL STRATEGY TRACK: Increase Digital Profit Margins: Top 3 Trends that will Make or Break Your Digital Growth
Shannon Kinney, Founder & Client Success Officer, Dream Local Digital and Board Member, Local Media Association
Get ready to tackle the three main areas that you need to accelerate your digital business! Shannon will cover how to expand your revenue and market share growth beyond your own website and email list. Whether you have a mature digital business that you’d like to increase, or you’re starting from scratch, this session will give you insights you can take back and implement immediately!
Track Host: January Spring


Noon-1:00 pm: Friday Lunch Power Keynote: Unlocking the Growth Code: Emmy-winning motivational speaker and media sales coach Ryan Dohrn shares the top 10 secrets of BIG thinkers and what you can do to harness the same power to grow your business and your life.  Learn how to take what you learned at Niche and execute your new ideas with passion and a clear direction.  Schedule a later flight, and DO NOT miss this closing session.      
Ryan Dohrn, Owner, Brain Swell Media and Niche Media Events
Noon-12:30 pm: Lunch is served!
12:30pm-1:00pm: Ryan speaks
1:00pm-2:30pm: Sponsor Giveaways


1:00pm-2:30pm: Sponsor Giveaways: Over $5,000 in cash and prizes TO BE GIVEN AWAY!
After the Friday Lunch Power Keynote, each sponsor will be giving away a prize valued at $150 or more. 24 chances to win! Don’t miss this exciting conclusion to the event!
**You must be present to win.**


The end… SEE YOU IN 2025!


The above schedule, topics, and speakers are subject to change.
*The TECH TALKS breakout track contains presentations by Publishers and Sponsors. These are NOT sales pitches! These are all proven ways to grow revenue with tools offered by our paid Niche sponsors and their clients.

__5