Block Party Chicago 2023: It’s Happening

It’s happening. It may only happen one time. But in October, we’re going to meet at Columbia College to talk about sales, automation, AI, fundraising, and a host of other topics.

Background: Michelle McLellan started the Block by Block conference in 2010 to bring together independent news publishers across the US. The successor was LION, founded in 2012.

The early days of those conferences were scrappy — very scrappy. Many of us remember those conferences:

  • Actionable, revenue-focused content from other publishers
  • Extremely friendly atmosphere with many ideas exchanged
  • A pioneering spirit
  • At least one kilt
  • Pretty much nothing else

And it was a lot of fun, due in part to the nights out and the legendary trip to the Billy Goat tavern — in what became an annual tradition.

So we’re doing it again for the fun and for the peer-to-peer centered conversations on revenue, and probably just this once.

Title: Block Party: Building the Future for Local News Revenue

Sponsors:Broadstreet, Center for Cooperative Media

Where: Columbia College Chicago, Film Row (the original spot)

When: October 6th and 7th, 2023

Who’s Definitely Committed to Going (So Far): Maria Archangelo, Ryan Belmore, Kim Clark, Will Hill, Kenny Katzgrau, Krystal Knapp, Bill Macfadyen, Michael McGinnis, Howard Owens, Carol Robidoux, Dylan Smith, John T. Ward, Doug Hardy, Ashley Woods Branch, Darren Hillock, John Sinkevics, Danny Stusser, Bob Carr, Justin Kerr, Shereen Siewert, Doug Rainey, Heather Borden Herve

How Much: $150 (use the coupon NEWKID for $50 off until August 1st).

High Level Agenda (Details in Progress)

Friday, October 6th: Doors Open @ 8:30amSaturday, October 7th: Doors Open @ 8:30am
The Road to $500k: 3 Publishers Discuss Their First Fundraising and Sales Efforts, Key Hires, and Inflection PointsAutomation: Zapier, ChatGPT and AirTable to Save X Hours/Week
Media Kits, Proposals, Contract Language, and RenewalsBest Practice Methods of Audience and Subscriber Growth
Lightning Sessions: Top Finds and Strategies from PeersHiring a Sales Rep: When, Process, Compensation
Wisdom Tables: Peers solve your burning questionsHiring and outsourcing (VAs, freelancers, back offices)
Group Dinner + Billy GoatCaptures: Takeaways and Momentum Plan

Where, and What About Hotels?

Columbia College of Chicago — in the south loop.

Historically, the most economical hotels — and the ones where the majority of folks will probably stay, are the:

There are many more within walking distance.

This is for You, If …

  • You’re from an established publication or a startup wanting to learn from established publishers
  • You want a deep dive into topics on the revenue and business side
  • If you want to hear from and meet other publishers doing what you’re doing
  • You don’t want to attend a giant conference where only 10-20% of the talks apply to you
  • You want to come away with a real return on investment: actionable ideas that will push you forward

Who is Welcome?

Publishers, editors, reporters, significant others, all of them. If you believe in the importance of what you’re doing and want to meet, learn from, and teach (everybody can teach something) people who care about the same things, you need to be here.

If you want to be part of something special, we want you.

I wouldn’t still be standing if not for those Chicago sessions and the fellowship of the publishers. A lot has changed in nine years but at the core that those of us who have learned some things together – those with whom I can relate and continue to learn from.

Carol Robidoux