Futures Forum: Advertising trends and career lessons from Kim Guthrie

Kim Guthrie stands at podium
Kim Guthrie, president of Cox Media Group, presents "From the Iowa Cornfield to the New York Boardroom" Oct. 4, 2019.

By Tara Larson, senior in journalism and mass communication

Greenlee School alumna Kim Guthrie lives on the east coast now where she works as president of Cox Media Group, but she came back to her home state of Iowa earlier this month to speak to students, faculty and the public at the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication’s Futures Forum.

Guthrie’s lecture, “From the Iowa Cornfield to the New York Boardroom,” served up lessons learned from her career that started in broadcast news and transitioned to advertising sales and management.

Guthrie gave some great tips for current students:

  • If you want to stand out, send handwritten thank-you notes after a job interview, thanking your interviewers for their time. Those notes always move to the top of the mail stack, and you might move to the top of the candidate pool.

  • Don’t be shy about sharing your career aspirations and location goals with your supervisors. If you don’t speak up, they won’t know you may be the perfect candidate when an opportunity comes along.

  • Hold a job in college and get an internship. A hiring manager wants to know a potential employee has strong work ethic and has managed responsibilities in the past.
Kim Guthrie, a Greenlee School alumna with a degree in journalism, shares her insights on the evolution of media.
Kim Guthrie, a Greenlee School alumna with a degree in journalism, shares her insights on the evolution of media.

Guthrie also shared her insights on today’s trends in advertising and digital media. Her lecture had several great points, but a few really stuck out to me.

1. Television ad sales remain relevant…

TV is still a powerhouse when it comes to advertising, according to Guthrie. It reaches a very wide audience and it is effective. For example, political television ad for the 2018 midterm elections have already surpassed political ads for the 2016 presidential election.

2. …But serious competition exists.

Services like Netflix and Hulu are changing the game. These content producers are taking the television and entertainment industries by storm by limiting commercials.

“This is really scary thing for television,” Guthrie said. “Part of this is because Netflix and HBO have all this great content, and the other part is people watch this great content with no commercials.”

3. OTT (Over the top) content takes away local advertising.

OTT, the delivery of film and TV content through the Internet, bypasses traditional distribution.

“NBC does this amazing show called ‘This is Us’ but I can’t really watch it on Tuesday nights, so I waited for the whole season to be over and I binge-watched it in the OTT app,” Guthrie said. “Did I see local commercials? No, I saw the NBC network commercials. I remember the first time seeing that, I thought, ‘There’s no local affiliate commercials. This is very bad for our business.’”

4. Radio is still very strong as well.

Ninety-three percent of Americans listen to the radio every week, according to Guthrie. Advertisers choose radio because it reaches so many people and they can select a station with a targeted audience for their message.

  1. Digital is the wave of the future. Currently, 55 percent of ad sales are going to traditional media and 45 percent are going to digital. Guthrie believes in about a year, that will flip and digital will outweigh traditional.

“The scariest part about digital is 90 percent goes to Facebook and Google,” Guthrie said. “The targetability of those ads is really amazing.”

There’s no doubt media is changing rapidly and challenges exist, but Guthrie said the key to success is keeping up with the changes and thinking creatively as new challenges come along.