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  • Powerhouse Q&A with Michael Galvin

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    As President of The Montgomery Advertiser, part of the USA Today Network, Michael Galvin is well aware of the issues our city faces. But by putting more emphasis on solutions-based journalism, he and the rest of the team at Montgomery’s only daily newspaper are encouraging residents to shun the “How did we get here?” attitude in favor of a “How do we get where we want to be?” mindset.
     
    How long have you been in the newspaper business?
    I’ve been in the “newspaper business” approximately 18 months (which is when I came here). My background is in business, and I spent most of my career with BellSouth, AT&T and YP Marketing. My focus the past 10 years has been on digital media solutions and business transformation.
     
    Where are you originally from?
    I was born in Boston and moved to Nashville in the 2nd grade. With Bell-South, I moved throughout the Southeast before landing in Birmingham for the 13 years prior to moving to Montgomery.
     
    In your opinion, what role does/should a daily newspaper play in a community?
    I believe local content providers, whether print or digital, should play a role in improving our community, and we can accomplish this in two ways. One, as a trusted source to inform our community, providing relevant content however people choose to re­ceive it—anytime, anywhere. Second, and equally important, we help businesses grow. The Montgomery Advertiser has been connecting buyers and sellers for 190 years, partner­ing with local business on their success.
     
    How is The Montgomery Advertiser filling that role?
    Executive Editor Bro Krift leads a very talented team of reporters that are committed to their craft. The depth of their journalism helps increase the narrative on topics that are important for all of us. In the coming months, you will see a greater focus on solutions-based journalism, report­ing on the effectiveness of the responses to challenges we face. I see it as a positive shift from what can sometimes be viewed as “problem spotting.” On the advertising side of our business, we will continue to leverage USA Today Net­work media solution capabilities for more intelligent media campaigns and transparent reporting. It can be a little scary when you can see how data can be leveraged for targeted campaigns based on the persona a client wants to reach.
     
    What challenges are facing your industry as a whole?
    The “dualopoly” of Google and Facebook creates challenges on both the content and revenue sides of our business. They control much of the news that is shared, regardless of the accuracy, without revenue attribution to the journalists. On the advertising side, our Facebook part­nership, Google Premiere partnership and our quality scores provide greater value for our clients, but it is a model where they have significant leverage dictating very lean margins.
     
    What specific challenges are facing The Montgomery Advertiser and how is the paper addressing them?
    Last year was a good year for The Montgomery Advertiser. The content side of our house continues to be recognized for its quality reporting, and on the advertising side, we exceeded our financial goals. And I think Montgomery should take pride in having a successful daily newspaper. Print is still an effective medium to reach an educated, affluent and engaged audience, but it is declining. Fortunately, digital media continues to grow, and we’ve added additional capabilities, including experiential or event marketing. It’s an important component for ad cam­paigns, especially for clients that want to reach millennials who look for more interaction with local businesses, so we expanded into event marketing, including the Food Truck Mashup, which has been good for Montgomery and for the sponsors of these events.

    What changes have you seen in your time in this industry?
    The digital landscape is constantly chang­ing, which requires significant investment in capabilities and ongoing training to stay relevant. That change is only going to accelerate as AI and voice search become more mainstream.
     
    What do you love about your job?
    I love being a part of the community. I don’t take for granted being includ­ed at events throughout the year from ASF to Zoobilation, but being associated with telling the stories of people that make a difference can be the most rewarding and humbling part of my job. I’m also fortunate to have the opportunity daily to interact with impressive community and business leaders, and on my most rewarding days, I have the chance to work with them on some significant projects. 
     
    Speaking of significant projects, what are your thoughts on the successful landing of the F-35 jet program?
    We did an editorial series called “Landing the Lightning,” and on the advertising side, we did the “35 for 35” series. I was thrilled we were included in that process and were able to help give our community a voice. We had the chance to inform the community on what this deal would mean for everyone and were able to showcase this community’s support for the military presence here. The entire effort was a great example of what we can accomplish when our commu­nity comes together and gets focused on something. Now we need to put that focus on public education.
     
    What are your impressions of Montgomery?
    I’ve found Montgomery to be incredibly welcoming. I’ve lived in several SEC cities, including Nashville, Knoxville, Jackson and Birmingham. Montgomery has been the easiest by far to meet people and quickly become a part of the community. I think that it may be in part because it is a military town.
     
    What do you think and hope is on the horizon for the city?
    I am hopeful that we can continue to work together on projects that are important for the future of our business community and quality of life, including working together to improve our public schools, continue to improve our airport and continue the recent growth in events so that everyone can enjoy our community and live in a place that we are all proud to call home.
     
    What are your interests outside of work?
    My wife Lynn and I are blessed with six children, so we are fortunate to have plenty of weekend activities. This time of year, it’s track meets and soccer. Soon it will be back to football then bas­ketball. My favorite activity is probably Saturday night dinner at Midtown Pizza Kitchen when all my children are home from college.
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