2021 Mid Year Company Update

Good afternoon,

I’m excited to provide you with a mid-year Company update. The past year has been an unprecedented time for so many reasons. I’m proud of the work that our teams are doing across the Company and how greatly positioned we are to continue on an impressive growth track.

By the Numbers

Total Company revenue is +55% to prior year through June vs. the same time period last year. This is a result of organic and acquisition growth.

The operating margin in Q2 is well north of 20%. This is a solid performance and positions us to build up cash, maintain excellent EBITDA/debt service ratios and invest in people and continue business expansion.

Digital revenue is 28% of our total company revenue. More specifically, June ’21 digital is +70% higher vs. January ’21.  Our monthly run rate has steadily increased each month this year.

Pageviews and monthly users are up astronomically vs. last year and steadily growing each month.  We’ve planted the seeds and are on a fast track to digital audience offsetting our reliance on print distribution.

Additional Company Highlights

New Benefits Plan.  On July 1, we rolled out a common benefits plan that covers each business unit in the company.  We were successful in both improving the benefits we offer and significantly reducing costs for employees vs. our previous plans that were in place.  We will always be on the hunt to improve in this area.

Acquisitions. On January 1, we started off the year with the acquisition of Rivertown Media from Forum Communications.  The transition went exceptionally well, and we have far exceeded our revenue and net income pro forma as a result of the excellent support from the Forum management team as well as the group of employees that joined our company that day. In June, we acquired the Las Vegas Optic in New Mexico from Paxton Media.  On July 1, we acquired the Unified Newspaper Group in the Madison, WI market from Woodward Communications.  All exciting additions to our Company and each has come with impressive talent.

Sales Training.  Our every other week non-pressured sales training, facilitated by Joe Mathes and Caleb Anderson, has been nothing short of exceptional. The level of engagement with everyone involved, in my view, is game-changing. The results tell the story as we continue on a path to creating a sales training, university-like experience within the Company.

Newsroom Expansion and New Market Launches.  Without getting specific on the numbers, we’ve been adding reporters and newsroom talent all year long to bolster current markets and to expand into new markets.  One of my goals in 2021, behind the scenes, was to double the number of local news reporters; this very well could happen given the pace we’re on. Other initiatives to note:

Our initiative to transition the Sheboygan Sun in WI from a print Shopper to a local news digital-first product is really starting to take form (launched last Sept).  The team is exceeding their revenue and profit proforma, audience growth is booming and the print product is greatly improved as we continue on our path to be the paper of record in Sheboygan.

Back in April, we relaunched hyper-local websites in Red Wing, Hudson, and River Falls, transitioning from the previously established regional website approach in these local communities. The digital audience has doubled and continues to grow each month.

We’re just about ready to launch a new website and digital presence in Hastings, MN (August).

We’re set to launch new websites in South Burlington and Williston, VT (August).

Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement on a very exciting new market launch coming in September!!

Every business is constantly faced with challenges to grow and be viable long-term, and we have clearly come out of the pandemic a much stronger company. We have an amazing group of you that have been loyal, unwavering, and with us from the start, and we’ve been able to recruit and hire new talent in each functional area in each market.  The combo and strength of the two bring so much excitement as we continue on our growth path in the 2nd half of 2021 and for many years to come!

Thank you for your hard work and dedication, and I can’t wait to see the next six months of excellent results and great accomplishments!!  As always, please reach out to me anytime with questions, feedback, and suggestions or ideas that can help us improve as a Company.