Publisher Interview with Kristen Weaver of the Wilson County News!
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Our-Hometown President & CEO Matt Larson recently had the opportunity to speak with Kristen Weaver of the Wilson County News for a Publisher Interview in advance of our June 5th Virtual Conference on Helping Local Businesses from Shutdown to Re-Opening.
Matt and Kristen discussed some of the tools used on the Wilson County News website, such as the Business Directory that put the newspaper in a position to help the community throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as additional features like Audio Articles and using custom forms to run Creative Contests. Check out some of the highlights below, our scroll to the bottom for the full interview!
1. Using the Business Directory during COVID-19
One of the first things Kristen and the Wilson County News did when COVID-19 forced businesses around the world to either close entirely or enforce strict new safety precautions was to utilize their existing Business Directory to pass along updates from local businesses to their readers. This provided a resources for the community to check and see if and when a particular business is open, or what restrictions are in place.
Taking it a step further, the Wilson County News took the data from their online business directory and incorporated it into the print edition, making it available to all of their readers, even those who only subscribe to the mailed newspaper.
Best of all, the Business Directory doesn’t just help readers — it also helps the businesses that are featured and keeps the lines of communication open in the newspaper/advertiser relationship.
2. Creative Contests
Kristen uses the GravityForms plugin included with Our-Hometown’s service to create custom submission forms that allow the Wilson County News to partner with local businesses to run contests and giveaways. These contests promote engagement from readers while simultaneously collecting important data for the client, and can be an important part of a newspaper’s digital marketing strategy when executed properly.
In this example, readers are invited to fill out a brief survey-style submission form to be entered for a chance to win a $500 gift certificate to a local shoe store. The Wilson County News collects submissions on behalf of their advertising client, eventually generating a winner of the contest. Meanwhile, the form is collecting high-value market research that can be shared or sold to the advertiser.
3. Audio Articles
The Wilson County News is one of our first customers that began using Audio Articles earlier this year. Judging by the usage numbers recorded on our stats platform, their readers definitely enjoy the feature.
Audio Articles is an excellent way to improve your website’s accessibility to vision-impaired readers, and is a stepping-stone to more media-driven content like podcasts and videos. As Kristen notes, in today’s digital-first world, many “readers” don’t want to actually sit down and read an article — they’d prefer to listen to the article in audio or video format.
Audio Articles also includes some unique advertising options, such as displaying a “Sponsored By” message above the audio player on each article or including a “Sponsored By” ad that gets read aloud at the beginning of each article a reader listens to.
Big thanks to Kristen for taking time out of her schedule to chat with Matt, and for participating in our Virtual Conference on Helping Local Businesses from Shutdown to Re-Opening. If you’re interested in listening to the full interview, you can find the video below or on our YouTube Channel. You can all find a full-length replay of the Virtual Conference here!