Kelly Mays, The Cavalier Daily’s first professional business manager in more than a decade, started work this week. Mays’ position will bring the paper in line with a large number of other college media organizations such as The Duke Chronicle and The Daily Tar Heel, who have professional business staffs to support the work of student journalists.
The original proposal to create this position was drafted at the start of 2016 by The Cavalier Daily and agreed to by the Cavalier Daily Alumni Association, who will provide financial support for the hire through fundraising efforts. Eventually, the hope is that the business manager position will pay for itself through additional revenue.
This position will hold the responsibilities of the former advertising manager role, such as aiding with general advertising sales and contact carryover year-to-year, while also expanding revenue streams and planning for long-term change and development.
According to The Cavalier Daily’s current Editor-in-Chief, Dani Bernstein, the biggest goal for Mays will be to make the shift from revenue in print ads to digital ads. “We not only want to be digital-first in news, but also digital-first in advertising,” Bernstein said. Mays will also seek to increase revenue through other means, such as creating content and products specifically attractive to students at the university.
“This role will move out of the day-to-day and into the big picture,” Bernstein said.
Mays has extensive experience in the areas of print publication, advertising, and business. She began working for Media General in 1998 and worked in various advertising roles at the company over the next 18 years. “I worked with national companies to agencies, all the way to small mom-and-pop stores,” Mays said of her advertising clients.
Following the birth of her twin daughters in 2013, Mays left Media General and opened her own salon. The business thrived, gaining traction in the community, especially among students from Sweet Briar College. However, the store flooded in October 2015, causing Mays to close the business.
Mays applied to the business manager position at The Cavalier Daily knowing that the duties and responsibilities were precisely her strong suit. “I knew it would be wonderful to get involved,” Mays said. “I love newspaper work. I believe in the power of print, and I believe it will always be a vital source of communication… When I got the offer letter, I was totally ecstatic. I am honored to be part of such a wonderful organization.”
Mays plans to “jump in full-force” over the next several months, with goals in mind to not only create incentive structures and organizational shifts within The Cavalier Daily’s advertising team, but also to generate connections and mutually beneficial relationships with large businesses within the Charlottesville community.
Other goals include ensuring that there is a full back-page advertisement for each paper printed, as well as personally teaching students sales techniques that have been successful for her. Mays plans to accompany students on some sales calls, saying, “You have to have a very strong sales team for any organization to be successful. I know this firsthand from being a business owner.”
Mays is looking forward to the beginning of fall term for the students to return, stating that she can’t wait to start working as a team. “When we become part of a team, we can start implementing new, fun things,” she said. “Newspaper work is fun, if you know how to do it right. That’s why I have loved being a part of the print industry for almost two decades… We are going to make this great publication even greater.”