DRMA Spotlight: Lincoln Media Services — From Father to Daughter, 2 Decades of Success

"Lincoln Media Services (LMS) is unique in its dedication to monitoring and maintaining a network of local TV broadcast stations,” says Gary Jones, founder and president of the Lake Bluff, Ill.-based marketing agency that specializes in performance-based television. “The labor-intensive nature of maintaining relationships with hundreds of local stations is not generally available in quantity elsewhere. Our partnerships have created a valuable and significant network of per-inquiry (PI) TV media.”

Founded in 1998, the DRMA member company is a family business, with Gary Jones joined by his daughter Amanda Jones as executive vice president. Amanda has taken more of the day-to-day lead in recent years, while Gary has stepped into the background after a lengthy career in the marketing and advertising world. 

With a team of 12 full- and part-time employees, including Shelby Schmidt as director of operations and recently hired Chelle Lewis as director of media, the 20-year old company is positioned to expand the success of its client base.

Gary’s career in advertising stretches back to his first post-college job at Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago. He spent time managing various campaigns for brands such as Procter & Gamble, Mattel, KFC, and Anheuser-Busch. He also carries experience on the other side of the coin, including time as a national spot rep at Petry Television/Telerep and national sales manager at Minneapolis’ CBS affiliate, WCCO.

In the late-1990s, the time was right to light out on his own. “The direct response space presented itself as the most opportune niche in the media advertising business,” Gary says. “In 1998, it was clear that revenue sharing was an underserved element within the DRTV space. LMS began with a focus on local market TV stations — and we continue to develop that today. All TV media (cable, local broadcast stations, MSOs, syndicated programs, etc.) remains our heavy lifter to get the client’s message out to the consumer audience.”

Gary and Amanda Jones, Lincoln Media
While Gary Jones plans to spend more time on his interest in aviation, Amanda Jones will
captain the LMS team.

Why did he name the business Lincoln Media Services? “First of all, the name is universally associated with honesty and integrity. Media outlets and advertisers alike are to be treated with respect, honest reporting, and an overall trustworthy experience. Second, we are located in the ‘Land of Lincoln!’”

Amanda Jones didn’t start out in media, but soon found herself more and more interested and involved. After majoring in music through college, Amanda spent time teaching music and English in Mexico City. Upon her return to the U.S., she began working part-time for her father. Starting with “zero-training”, she says with a laugh, “My first assignment was to call local broadcast stations to pitch our expanding PI TV network. I had no idea how to answer some of the early questions asked of me, but that only forced me to learn quickly, and the more I learned, the more I knew that this was the right path for me.”

During the next couple of years, Amanda learned to fill many roles at LMS. Her favorite? “Traffic manager,” she says. “That was right up my alley — there are always 10 things going on at any given time, and I really thrive in that type of situation.” 

Then, in late 2011, Amanda made Gary an offer. “I asked him if he would consider mentoring me, training me in the aspects of upper management, and then allowing me to take over the business when he retired?” Gary agreed and, one year later, they entered into a 10-year transition plan.

During the next few years, LMS expanded its client base and revenue streams, even becoming a syndication company by leveraging its network and broadcast TV station relationships to barter TV show placement for clients. 

This expansion led to a move to a larger office in 2013. “Our new home brought a new level of enthusiasm and teamwork,” Amanda says. “We used that moment in time to take an additional step forward in our transition, as I became the one who ran day-to-day operations. There were plenty of mistakes along the way, but with Gary there to mentor me, I was able to adjust and grow from them.”

LMS’ focus continued to expand with the growth of the marketing industry and the power of the consumer. While the LMS team sees marketers’ issues in meeting the ongoing challenge of consumers’ media consumption, it also believes in getting back to the basics when faced with campaigns in need of a tweak. 

“Are we doing all the basics right?” Amanda asks. “The best campaign ad messaging will never succeed if the media attribution or the data flow is hindered by a missed element in the set-up or training. Sometimes a big issue is resolved with just a minor update.”

Lincoln Media team
Part of Lincoln Media Services’ tight-knit team, from left to right: Shelby Schmidt, Sally Shoemaker,
Suzy Chestler, Mary Barreca, Lisa Blanc, Jasmin Padron, and Amanda Jones.

Gary adds, though, that LMS’ goals for its business and its clients remains the same. “Though we continue to manage and improve our PI TV network, we are also offering services in other media that mirror changing consumer preferences,” he says. “As the internet has entered the mainstream and audiences fragment further, we have added personnel and dedicated new efforts to using the CPA model in other media.”

The company also acquired Gray Matter LLC three years ago in an effort to improve its TV network footprint, as well as the number of available CPA advertisers to provide to its media outlets. “We’re excited about the direction we are headed,” Amanda says. 

Six months ago, the father-daughter duo decided to speed up the transition process, as Amanda is now completely taking the reins. She adds, “We’d both gotten to a place of feeling comfortable and confident with where I was at, as well as where we fit into the industry.”

Gary says, “It’s been about managing an intentional pull-back from my natural tendency to jump in and help. The past two years have been transitional: to let go of the reins and watch Amanda develop into a very competent and confident manager. Input from Amanda will be helpful in deciding what role I might play — if and when the need arises.”

The LMS team concurs about the company’s direction going forward. “LMS’ standards of service will be sustained with key personnel that have demonstrated great value and have specific experience,” Gary says. “New hires in key areas are already illustrating to media partners that LMS distributes the best and most effective PI offers.”

LMS’ most recent hire, Lewis, is a trusted expert in the DR media world. “My focus this year will be on revenue growth through the continued development of our DRTV performance network, both locally and nationally,” she says. “In addition, I am eager to apply my experience as a media buyer to expand LMS into a more traditional agency in order to serve all of our clients’ DR needs.”

Schmidt, who’s spent seven years as LMS’ operations guru, also is optimistic. “We’ve put together an upper management team that is truly unified,” she says. “We share common goals and each of us brings different skill sets to the table. My focus is on streamlining internal processes, improving distribution, and accurate and timely reporting.”

While Gary plans to fill his more open calendar by “fully exploring” his interest in aviation, as well as charitable work in “a car donation and repair ministry for those lacking financial resources,” Amanda is taking LMS’ helm with vigor and excitement.

“Regardless of what type of media the consumer is active on, whether traditional (television, radio, print) or streaming services, web sites, mobile, social, or even gaming consoles — we want to engage them all. I am passionate about the company, as well as the industry, and I am so thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given. We have been given a solid foundation to build upon, and we have the personnel in place to keep building.”

Lincoln Media logo

Lincoln Media Services is a full-service DR marketing agency specializing in performance-based television. It was founded in 1998 to offer national DRTV advertisers a way to guarantee their ad dollars sell product (or generate leads).

Address: 51 Sherwood Terr., Suite Y, Lake Bluff, IL 60044
Phone: (224) 880-5501
Website: www.lincolnmedia.com