Advertising director named for Vermont newspapers

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BENNINGTON  An industry veteran with extensive experience in both print and digital advertising has been named advertising director for New England Newspapers' three Vermont publications, NENI announced on Tuesday.

Erik Smelser, who has previously held advertising and digital marketing positions in Connecticut and Missouri, will direct all advertising operations for NENI's three Vermont newspapers: the Bennington Banner, the Brattleboro Reformer and the Manchester Journal. Smelser, 51, will be based in Bennington. His appointment is effective immediately.

Smelser fills a newly created position that is part of NENI's ongoing efforts to strengthen its Vermont newspapers, said NENI's vice president of advertising, Jordan Brechenser.

"I'm happy to have the talent and skill set that Erik brings to the table," Brechenser said. "He has a solid background in all advertising platforms and has a real grasp on how to effectively get the job done. He's worked in markets of varying sizes and locations, I'm sure our ad teams and businesses alike will be able to leverage his knowledge and help them to grow. This addition will really help elevate our operations in southern Vermont and with recent staffing additions this will put our Vermont publications in the spotlight."

"He brings a depth of experience with a track record to help our company while becoming a community asset helping local businesses elevate their marketing to grow their businesses," said NENI's publisher, Alan English.

Smelser referred to the position as "a great opportunity to do some wonderful things in the region with both print and digital advertising. I think there's a great product set, great markets and I think we can deliver some great results for our advertisers."

Originally from Indiana, Smelser graduated from Miami University in Ohio, where he majored in political science and history.

He previously operated his own digital marketing company, Shoreliner Media Co. in Old Saybrook, Conn. Prior to that, Smelser worked for the New Haven Register in Connecticut as vice president of advertising and revenue for Digital First Media's Northeast Division. NENI was owned by DFM at the time, and Smelser's territory included the Banner, the Reformer and the Journal.

Before coming to Connecticut, Smelser served as director of business development for a group of newspapers based in St. Louis that are owned by Lee Enterprises.

"I've got a pretty extensive print and digital advertising background both in print newspapers and in the real world," Smelser said. "I think it all rolls up into an experience that informs me and by extension the folks that I'm working with."

NENI's relationship with the digital vendor AdCellerant also made this an attractive position. Smelser added.

"They are super strong; I would consider them a premium vendor for these kind of things," he said. "That makes it easy, I think, to put best-in-class products out on the market now that we're backstopped by the best in the country.

"That was big reason" for taking the job, Smelser said.

Smelser intends to tackle his new duties right away.

"My immediate plan is to just jump right in and have as many conversations with as many advertisers as we possibly can," Smelser said. "Small businesses — this is my personal opinion — need a lot of help in understanding the digital opportunities out there and that needs to come from a voice they trust.

"That's the benefit of the newspapers," he said. "They've been around, and there's a considerable amount of brand equity among our advertisers for these publications."

Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com, or at 413-496-6224.


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