Journal’s ad department names new manager
Auburn Journal Ad Manager Beth O’Brien has been named director of special sections and automotive sales for Gold Country Media. In the newly created position, O’Brien will have an expanded role in Gold Country Media, focusing on marketing and training for all 11 publications.
MJ Heltsley, current major accounts manager in the Journal’s advertising department, will become the new ad manager.
Journal Publisher Todd Frantz describes the changes as “a real real win-win for the Auburn Journal and Gold Country Media.”
“Beth O’Brien has been a terrific employee and a huge part of the advertising department at the Journal for many years, and her expertise and leadership in this new role will have a major impact on the quality of our special sections in all of the communities we serve. I am very excited about her in this new role,” Frantz said. “And I am equally excited about M.J. Heltsley taking the helm of the advertising department at the Journal. She has proven herself a terrific fit for the Journal in her short time with us. She brings a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise to our company, with over 20-plus years experience in newspapers and media.”
O’Brien joined the Journal in 1995 after working in advertising for two other Northern California newspapers. She took over responsibility for the automotive market in 1997 and became head of the advertising department in 2006.
“(What I’ve enjoyed) is creating campaigns — things that get people excited about shopping local,” she said. “I love the whole thing of people shopping local and being committed to the community. I love to watch business grow and feel like I was a part of that.”
She has also worked to make an impact outside the office.
“Probably my biggest achievement was serving as goodwill ambassador for the city of Auburn in 2009,” she said. “That was a huge honor and I still tell people I’m a goodwill ambassador. Once you give me that title, I’m keeping it.”
As she settles into the new job, O’Brien is enthusiastic about the future.
“I’ll still be at this paper along with all our other publications, working with people, helping train the ad reps and presenting special editions,” she said. “I’m looking forward to helping some of our other publications grow and enhance their role in the community through special editions and events. It will be hard leaving this because I love what I do and I’ve been here a long time. But I’m not really leaving. I’m moving into a new phase with new challenges.”
Heltsley joined the Auburn Journal in August. Her background includes more than 12 years in advertising with the Los Angeles Times before moving to the company’s magazine division, working on Ski and Skiing publications. She later worked for Transworld Publications and then spent 11 years with USA Today, where she became advertising director for major accounts. Most recently, she worked for Say Media.
After vacationing in the Auburn area a couple of times, Heltsley and her husband, who is retired from the Tribune Company, decided to move to the foothills.
“To meet people and really get involved in the community, you really have to work,” she said about coming to work at the Journal.
As ad manager, one of her goals is to bring her experience working in digital media “to show how we can integrate it more into all of the Gold Country Media products,” she said.
“I truly believe in team spirit. I’ve always worked with that and I think it keeps people motivated and it helps us support one another,” she said. “If all the balls are in the air and one drops, someone is always there to catch it and we can always serve our customers with camaraderie.”
And she’s looking forward to getting to know the Auburn area.
“I’m so new to the community and really eager to meet (people) face to face,” she said. “I want to go out and make calls with (the advertising representatives). I’m open to hearing what the challenges are and we’ll come back and find some solutions for them.”
She’ll also continue to work with major advertising accounts, at least for the near term.
“I am very pleased and excited for these two dynamic ladies,” Frantz said. “These are really positive steps for our company and for our customers.”