New View at the Top of The Hill

By Nexstar InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: New View at the Top of The Hill

The Hill's News Ad Sales Chief returns to lead the Political News Outlet to a New Summit.

One month and change into Clifford McKinney's (pictured below right) return engagement at The Hill as Vice President and Head of Sales, he's out to demonstrate there are exceptions to a familiar adage -- you can't go home again -- and deliver exceptional advertising results to the political and policy news outlet owned by Nexstar Media Group.

"When I left the company a couple of years ago (as Senior Account Director), it was just being acquired by Nexstar and things were in a state of flux," McKinney recalls. "Coming back, I can see how things have developed and the synergies that are coming into play from a sales perspective. It's exciting to see the opportunities we have, and we're just on the verge of taking advantage of these great opportunities."

Before and between his tour of duties at The Hill, McKinney had roles with Bloomberg Media, The Washington Post, Atlantic Media, ABC affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. and Roll Call. All that experience in different elements of the media universe will be tapped by McKinney, now that The Hill has evolved from a website that now receives over 35.5 million unique visitors a month to also be a video platform landing more than 46 million monthly views, a Monday-through-Friday late afternoon hour-long TV program on NewsNation, a thought-leadership events powerhouse, and 24/7 ad-supported streaming channel available to viewers on smart TV sets and digital devices.

A top priority for McKinney is to land more corporate advertisers for The Hill on a recurring basis, stressing that this is a credible, trusted non-partisan home for their messages that has a substantial audience way beyond the D.C. Beltway. About a third of The Hill's video and digital viewers come from five states -- California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. "We want to maximize monetization of that audience," he continues. "The Hill has scale on a national basis, reaching over 17M affluent adults and 7M business owners and executives. We have the quality audience publishers like The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have and should be considered in that competitive set."

McKinney also wants to encourage his salespeople to package cross-platform opportunities for clients. One is combo sales for The Hill's various media properties. Besides the website and video initiatives, The Hill also publishes newsletters reaching more than 700,000 subscribers and a live events circuit that offers between 35-40 events per year on topics from health to clean energy development.

The other is grouping The Hill with NewsNation and ad time avails on Nexstar's local TV station websites across the country. "We're just figuring out how to utilize some of these relationships in local markets," maintains McKinney. "We're also working on refreshing our products and potentially introducing some new products in the near future."

One example of how a cross-platform partnership came together is NewsNation's live presentation of the latest Republican Presidential Debate on December 6 from the University of Alabama. The CW carried the debate live (in the Eastern and Central time zones) and reporters from The Hill were on-site, preparing a recap of highlights and initial analysis playing on their video platforms. Advertisers had the chance to get time on The Hill's recap, along with pre-debate newsletter space.

"More opportunities like that will develop," McKinney promises. "We want to arm our people and Nexstar's national sales team going into every meeting with the opportunity to sell products across the spectrum."

With a big Presidential election year ahead, McKinney and his sales force will speak with advertisers and agencies about incorporating The Hill, NewsNation, and local Nexstar stations into their budgets for political primary and convention coverage. He foresees a jump in sales for both political candidate and issue advocacy commercials and will have special brand safety procedures in place. "All creative will be reviewed for airing and follow documentation guidelines," adds McKinney. "We're committed to all sides of an issue represented."

As for The Hill's own image before advertisers, McKinney believes it will be a far stronger, consistent one by Election Day 2024. "We want to be viewed as the non-partisan, go-to news source," he muses. "Above all else, we will maintain the integrity of our brand and the quality of our product, giving our advertisers confidence that we are the right partner for them."

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