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Opening Eyes to the Evolution

TV is not dead. If the lifeblood of television is sales revenue then TV is alive and kicking. John Gibson, Digital Sales Manager of WPTV, enlightened a classroom of Generation Z students by showing them the annual sales revenue of local television stations in the United States is projected to be $18,897,300,000 in 2022. Many of the students in the class admit they don’t watch television but John was quick to say that eventually they will when they purchase homes and move closer to the sedentary life of middle-age.

John’s expertise is not limited to traditional television sales. He believes the landscape is evolving toward the places the audience has drifted toward. OTT or Over-The-Top Television is providing avenues for television stations to remain relevant and profitable. Hulu, Sony Crackle, and YouTube can give local TV management new marketplaces for advertisements that originate from their local affiliates.

Georgia Southern University welcomed Mr. Gibson to visit classrooms and spread the gospel of the new paradigm, digital sales. Gibson met with Media Management and Sales students to discuss the impact of Cost Per Thousands, Cost Per Points, and Reach. The significance of John’s insight was not taken lightly. A few promising sales persons were motivated by his speech and were encouraged to contemplate a future in ad sales.

John had lunch with four students and talked frankly about career paths. It was a lively discussion about the pitfalls of being a sales person and the joys of success. Many of the students were intrigued by the lifestyle, the challenges and the excitement of chasing a deal.

John spent some time with the student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The students were surprised how TV and sales are integrated in an ethically challenging but symbiotic relationship. Later, he spent quality time with the students at dinner and answered their individual questions.

Gibson gave a lecture in three classes at Georgia Southern University. There were film, journalism, public relations and business students in the classes. Bringing in a professional helps professors verify their teaching. Students respect the perspectives of professionals and in turn, the professor’s words are verified.

The Communication Department holds an annual festival to showcase careers, encourage networking and provide workshops. John Gibson was the keynote speaker for the 2018 Comm Arts Festival. He was able to supplement his earlier lectures with a broader view of the communication industry and discuss his views on the future of media.

John is in the middle of the storm at WPTV. The election year advertisement dollars are at a historic level in West Palm Beach, Florida because of the political nature of the Sunshine State. Many local sales executives are stagnant because the political ads have wiped out local ad time. For John, the election ads are not a problem because he is finding places outside the traditional screen to find commercial time for clients. However, he does have sympathy for his colleagues who have to tighten their belt during the chaotic midterms.

The Converged News Production students had John as their guest on our 99@9 show. The show is a student run program that airs twice a week on Facebook. You can see the episode on our Facebook page, GSU Multimedia Journalism. He was asked some tough questions about what jobs are available for students. The students enjoyed meeting John and his tales of the great frontier they hope to explore.

The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and E.W. Scripps sponsored John’s visit. John came to Georgia Southern University in an exchange program meant to enliven students with the knowledge of jobs they did not know exist. The program works both ways and I think John learned a lot about the types of future employees that are headed his way. I learned a lot as well. This past summer, I spent two weeks at WPTV and learned as much as I could about their sales program. I spent a few days with John while he was working, seeing the inside of the sales machine. The changes in the way television products are sold makes me encouraged and confident that my students will be a part of a media evolution.

I used to be pessimistic about the future of television but that was because my perspective was fixated on the past methods and traditional views. The visiting professorship opened my eyes by turning me toward the light. The future is bright.

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