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By Dennis Hetzel, Executive Director

Paul Dolan (left) and Phillip J. Castellini.

Any February chill in the air should be warmed by thoughts of baseball as two top executives from the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds will make a rare joint appearance at the opening breakfast at the 2013 Ohio Newspaper Association convention, which is returning to the Hilton Columbus at Polaris on Feb. 13 and 14.

Phillip J. Castellini, chief operating officer for the Reds, will speak to the group along with Paul Dolan, who was named chairman and chief executive office of the Indians before the 2011 season.

They will give ONA members not only the lowdown on their teams but also talk about what it takes to operate and market Major League franchises these days.

There is much more in store for convention attendees.

For the first time, the ONA is conducting a pre-event workshop, and the discussion leader should be a strong draw for advertising managers and their staffs throughout Ohio.  Direct-marketing consultant Jim Hart will lead a workshop on competing and winning against direct-mail competitors. Hart has emerged as one of the industry’s leading experts and will have up-to-date information related to the Postal Service’s new favorable-rate agreement with Valassis.  Just recently, he has done workshops and webinars for the NAA and Local News Association among others.

Hart’s workshop is scheduled for 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 13. For registration information on the Hart workshop, click here. You can register at a discounted rate for Hart’s workshop when you also register for the convention.

It will be followed at 5 p.m. with the opening reception that will include a number of invited political leaders, including Gov. John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine.

New this year will be a silent auction to raise money for the Ohio Newspapers Foundation. We encourage ONA members to donate all types of items. (Learn more by clicking here.)

And we will be giving our first-ever Rising Star awards – an idea “borrowed” from the Colorado Press Association – to up-and-coming employees who are making a difference. We urge all ONA members to nominate employees. (Learn more by clicking here.)

The convention’s opening general session after the “baseball breakfast” on Feb. 14 will feature an address by Ken Doctor, the president of Newsonomics and one of the industry’s keenest commenters and observers. Doctor will discuss recent industry developments, opportunities and threats. He is the author of “Newsonomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get” and writes a popular, weekly column for the Nieman Journalism Lab.

Here is how the rest of the convention program is shaping up:

Alternative revenue streams: Three experts provide actionable ideas that members can take home. Maribel Perez Wadsworth, the vice president of audience development and engagement at Gannett, will discuss digital subscription models. Charles Jarvis, publisher of the Warren Tribune-Chronicle, will focus on event marketing. John Crisp of The Toledo Blade will show his organization’s latest e-edition product.

What’s up with the ‘wires’?: Representatives of US Presswire, the Associated Press and one other major news service will be on a panel discussing the radical changes that news services are managing. Moderator will be Andy Alexander, former ombudsman of The Washington Post and a visiting professor at Ohio University.

Making social media work for you: This panel will provide concrete ideas on how news operations are using social media to build audiences and increase revenue. Ken Doctor will join this panel along with Rob Forcey of the Athens Messenger and Kevin Dugan of the Empower Group in Cincinnati, a specialist in social-media marketing.

The state of Ohio open government: We have invited Attorney General Mike DeWine, who will be joined by a state legislator and First Amendment attorney to talk about how much the sun really is shining on open government in the Buckeye State.  Randy Ludlow of The Columbus Dispatch and a board member of the Ohio Coalition for Open Government, will moderate.

The 3-around press: The pressroom innovation for the smaller –sized Columbus Dispatch is still the talk of the printing industry. We will have a return panel as the press becomes operational to discuss the impact the 3-around should have not only on production but advertising and news. We are planning an optional tour of the Dispatch production facility.

And, as always, we will have the Hooper awards ceremony for weekly newspapers, the awards in our collegiate newspaper competition and a double session for the weekly newspapers roundtable.

The Convention Committee still is finalizing plans for a luncheon speaker, so stay tuned. In the meantime, the ONA Convention Committee urges members and guests to attend what promises to be another outstanding event.

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