Q&A: The World Co.'s Misty Jensen

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Sunflower Broadband has always been at the forefront of
technological and operational advancements. In 1995, Sunflower became the first
cable company to deploy DOCSIS modems to its customer base and launched digital
cable in 1998. In 2001, Sunflower was one of the first operators in the country
to offer local phone service to its customers. The company's systems went all-digital
in 2003. Sunflower Broadband is owned by The World Co., which also owns
newspapers in several Kansas communities (as well as Arizona and Colorado), as
well as broadcast-TV station KTKA, the ABC affiliate
in Topeka, Kan. World Co. recently reorganized all its ad sales forces under
one roof. Misty Jensen, Sunflower Broadband's general sales manager, has been tapped
to oversee the entire company's ad-sales efforts as general ad-sales manager.
She spoke with Local Ad Sales
contributing editor K.C. Neel about the reorganization and how it has affected
sales. An edited transcript follows:

Q: How are all of World Co.'s various media entities working together to sell advertising?

A: We recently restructured all our advertising sales departments under one roof, which I oversee. We have local sales managers in each market and in each company and they meet every other week. We talk about accounts we already have and accounts we are targeting. If there is competition, we pull all the parties together and see where we can work together to benefit everyone and we execute a plan. In some cases a rep from one company may see a decrease and a rep from another may see an increase. But our sales goals reflect the account goal setting.

Q: Does your team work together to sell media packages across all your media properties?
A:
We want our teams to work together. We're actually taking the agency concept to a new level. The only thing we don't offer clients is radio, and I have even purchased radio for some clients so they can have the entire package. We basically own 95% of the market in Lawrence, Kan. (population about 90,000). We own the newspaper (Lawrence Journal-World) and cable (Sunshine Broadband). We penetrate about eight out of every 10 homes in some way. Bundling is important to consumers and advertisers. The radio station is owned by another company but we have purchased radio for some clients that want to reach the entire market. We're taking the triple-play concept of the cable industry and expanding it to all media.

Q: How have clients reacted to this new reorganization?
A: They love it. They have one point of contact and we have extensive resources designed to help them.

Q: Do you offer much in the way of advanced advertising services?
A:
We have not delved much into interactive advertising yet. We want to make sure we can integrate all our companies in a way where they can work together before getting too deep with that. But we do quite a bit with VOD advertising.

Q: How has the economy affected your ad sales efforts?
A: We lost two car dealerships (a Chrysler dealer and a General Motors dealer) in Lawrence this week. It's a bit too soon to determine just what that will mean long-term.
Obviously, the economy has had an effect on us. We may have to make 20 calls to get two clients today whereas before it was like 10 calls for two clients.
April was slow but May has really picked up. Over 70% of our clients have long-term contracts so we are reinforcing those contracts and working with clients to provide them with more value. We're trying to think outside the box.

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