Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the Association of Free Community Publications (AFCP) Conference and Trade Show in Las Vegas on behalf of Family Features. AFCP represents publishers of free community newspapers and magazines from coast-to-coast, reaching millions of homes on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis.
Attending this conference was a real eye-opener, and a positive one at that. It closely resembled the excitement affiliated with a high school or college reunion with a unique sense of family, friendship and connections. One might think this would consist of worn-out newspaper men and women trying to save their publications from demise. This was not the case, however. The rooms were filled with vibrant, enthusiastic journalists – many men but equally as many women, including young professionals, experienced publishers and industry providers – all eager to see the newspaper and magazine industry thrive.
One investment AFCP has made in the industry’s future is a Training Leadership Institute that is a structured, comprehensive, cost-effective sales and leadership training program designed specifically for members and the free publication industry. The courses offered at the conference were led by those that have succeeded in the industry and offered invaluable information.
AFCP has shown its faith and commitment to the future with its Rising Stars Program, which is designed to honor individuals age 35 and under who are emerging leaders in the free publication industry. This annual program recognized eight individuals this year who represent the best of AFCP’s up-and-comers during an awards presentation program conducted in front of all the conference attendees. These individuals exemplify good character, leadership and professionalism not only at work but in the communities they serve.
The quality and variety of educational offerings in AFCP’s Leadership Institute is outstanding. I attended a session based on Stephen R. Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” that was held at 3:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon during the conference. This was the last session of the day and one I thought would be practically empty because of the time, day and Las Vegas location. To my surprise, the room was practically full. Yes, there were a few experienced journalists in attendance, but most of the attendees were from the younger generation, many of whom were Rising Stars.
While newspapers and magazines have struggled in recent years, AFCP is not sitting back and watching the struggle but rather investing in today’s industry leaders and those that will help take publishing into the future.