Publisher’s column: After two years, much work remains
October marks the two-year anniversary of my return to the Post Independent as your publisher and advertising manager. I hope you will agree with me that you have a better newspaper today.
As a reader, you count on us to show up each day in the print or digital form you desire. That is easier said than done. It is pretty simple to produce an average newspaper along with average marketing platforms. My dad inflicted me with a strong work ethic and a sense that what I do can always be improved upon. And average was never OK.
On the downside of my first two years, we have had too much employee turnover for my liking. With new management, turnover can be common. It is key to me that I have a team that shares a similar vision. While I wish we still had many of these employees on staff, people do move out of the area and others find positions to which they are better suited. In today’s world, it is rare to have someone take a position and remain in that same job for even five years.
If there is a plus side of employee turnover it is that we now have one of the strongest teams in which I may ever have had the privilege of participating. We share a common goal to serve our community to the fullest.
Editor Randy Essex has raised the content bar. Two recent series, “The Price of Paradise,” regarding our cost of living and the other detailing the upcoming Re-1 school bond issues, are examples of important work we are doing these days. We are now producing four to six videos weekly. And coming next week you will be able receive a weekly news update in your email. If you like what you see, we will expand this news blast to five days per week.
We have developed new products for advertisers and consumers. In January we launched a monthly coupon book in print that is also available online. We have learned that you like a good deal. This is a real win-win. You gain a nice discount and our local businesses are gaining new customers.
Fun!, a weekly publication, was launched in May to provide visitors a handy guide for things to do in our busy summer season. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that many local residents also enjoyed the product. It really can be a challenge to stay on top of all of the activities and events in our area.
In the last month we launched a convenient local restaurant directory on our website. You can hit the “Restaurants” tab on our home page and see menus and contact information to plan your visit to a favorite or a new dining destination. We are charging just $50 per month to our local restaurants for this service.
Thanks to Meals on Wheels, we are now distributing the Post Independent in the Parachute/Battlement Mesa area Monday through Friday. This was an immediate request made to me when I started, but took better than a year to accomplish. Sorry.
We constantly evaluate and re-evaluated our work. Are we meeting your needs? I wonder how we can better serve the western part of Garfield County. The Citizen Telegram is the established weekly newspaper in the Rifle/Silt area. We sell roughly 1,000 newspapers per week. The Post Independent distribution in that same area is 3,500 newspapers daily. We can do a better job of putting more content into the PI related to that area, although that will mean we will also have to duplicate stories with the CT. I know our regular CT readers won’t be happy, but we need to serve the greater number of readers in that area who read the PI.
Basalt is another question mark in my mind. Increasingly I have heard from more residents of Basalt requesting our newspaper. Traditionally Basalt has been covered by our sister newspaper, The Aspen Times. Basalt shares the same school system as Glenwood and many residents shop in Glenwood. It makes sense. While we are a free newspaper, producing it comes at a great cost. We are a for-profit business. If we add services or locations, we need to be able to cover the additional expense. And there must be a value to our advertisers who help us pay our bills. We will explore our role in the midvalley area in the coming year.
On the advertising side, I am most excited about the wide variety of digital platforms we now have available for both our readers and our advertisers. Whether it is social media marketing, video, email, sweepstakes, deals or contests, we’ve got them. Many small to medium-size advertisers are missing the digital boat. Educating and informing those businesses will be a top priority in the coming year.
I will be interested in learning what new products you may see valuable as well as how we may improve our current products. As always, I’d like to thank you for reading.
Michael Bennett is publisher of the Post Independent.
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