Did you know? We’re Social Media Rockstars

Last week, four of us from the Tribune attended the Social Media Rockstars conference at Jackpot Junction in Redwood Falls.

The event featured two keynote speakers, Jason Falls of CafePress and founder of Social Media Explorer, and Lee Odden of TopRank Online Marketing and author of “Optimize”, as well as six breakout speakers. The whole day was packed with excellent information, new ideas and lots of networking with social-savvy people.

My nametag! Photo credit: Heather Koffler, Twitter

At the Tribune, we work hard on our social media strategy (see earlier posts about this topic here and here). It’s always great to attend conferences like these to see what we’re already doing well and learn some new ideas for taking our strategy to the next level. Like most businesses, we’re trying to balance many different priorities, and we don’t have one person who can focus solely on our social media strategy. So we have to be a little more creative when it comes to time management and choosing where our resources can best be spent.

At times, this can be stressful. You know what I mean: You want to be doing more, but you don’t always have the time, or the knowledge. That’s why conferences like these are so beneficial. I always leave feeling invigorated and excited, with tons of new ideas for strategies and approaches. (Of course, putting them into practice is usually another story!)


These were a few of the major takeaways I had from the day:

  • Consider the six things social media can do: enhance brand; protect reputation; build community; enhance customer service; facilitate research/development; and drive sales or leads. Pick one, or all six, but always be thinking strategically. (Jason Falls)
  • “Great content isn’t really great until it gets found, consumed and shared.” (Lee Odden)
  • Social media won’t fix a broken product. Tap into those stories within your organization. (Lee Odden)
  • How to be successful on social media: Provide content, serve your customers, be consistent. (Jason Falls)
  • Google+ is the second largest social network after Facebook. Don’t be too quick to ignore it! (Adam Dince)
  • It takes six to seven “brand touches” for someone to even remember your brand. Make every touch count. (Mykl Roventine)
  • Follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time, share nonpromotional content. 20% of the time, promote your brands. (Mykl Roventine)
  • On social, your job is to share content that makes your followers say “holy smokes!” Always try to elicit that emotional response. (Jason Falls)

If any of you are interested, I took quite a few more notes during the event and I’d be happy to share them with you. Just email me at awhite@wctrib.com or find me on Twitter. You can also see what other people were saying about the event on Twitter or Facebook.

On a sidenote, the fact that we can have an event like this, with speakers of this caliber, in little ol’ Redwood Falls is a huge testament to this area and the drive and passion we have here. (And a BIG shout out to Sarah Kuglin and her team, who coordinated the entire event and did a phenomenal job!)

I already can’t wait to go again next year!

Do you enjoy going to these types of conferences? Why? What do you think you could be doing differently with your own social media strategy?

Reporter Tom Cherveny receives praise for work on story

Tom Cherveny

West Central Tribune regional reporter Tom Cherveny received a collegial tip o’ the hat from MinnPost writer Brian Lambert on Thursday when Lambert included a mention of Cherveny’s work on his column.

Lambert writes a daily column for MinnPost called “The Glean,” which “offers two daily helpings of the latest news, information and opinion of interest to Minnesotans,” according to the MinnPost website. “Brian Lambert does double duty, offering an early-morning, quick-hit look at some of the latest must-read stories and talkers and then a late-afternoon look at the day’s developments and buzz.”

In Thursday’s Glean column, Lambert wrote about Cherveny’s recent reporting on a double murder that took place in Granite Falls.

Lambert wrote: “Tom Cherveny of the West Central Tribune has the best story on the arrest of the man charged in that double murder in Granite Falls: ‘Andrew Dikken, arrested Tuesday after eluding authorities for two weeks, entered the home of Kara Monson in Granite Falls sometime after 3 a.m. on Sept. 2 and began shooting her and Chris Panitzke as they were sleeping in a bed, according to the allegations in a criminal complaint filed Wednesday. … The complaint also alleges that within hours of the shooting Monson had received text messages from Dikken, a former boyfriend. Investigators also learned that Dikken had sent a threatening message to one of Monson’s family members that indicated he was threatening Kara’s life, according to the complaint.’”

You can find Cherveny’s full story here.

MinnPost is a “nonprofit, nonpartisan enterprise whose mission is to provide high-quality journalism for news-intense people who care about Minnesota,” the website states.

This blog post originally appeared on the Forum Communications Company blog. The West Central Tribune is owned by Forum Communications. 

Scoop steals the show on a Tribune tour

This morning, we had around 50 kids here from the Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA who took a tour of the Tribune and saw how the newspaper comes together every day.

When they first walked in the building, all of the children were greeted by Scoop, the Tribune mascot. They just loved him!

Scoop stole the show a bit, but that’s okay.

There were hugs and high-fives all around!

Thanks for visiting!

Everyone had a great time this morning on the tour. Thanks for visiting, everyone!

If you or your group would be interested in a tour of the Tribune, please call 320-235-1150.

Tribune sports department wins five Associated Press awards

The West Central Tribune took home five awards at the Minnesota Associated Press Sports Editors awards presentation on Wednesday.

The Tribune sports staff of Tom Larson, Rand Middleton, Jesse Fuchs, Ben Brewster and Dan Wallert took second place in General Excellence and second place in Design & Editing.

Middleton won first place in column writing for a collection of submitted columns. Brewster took second place in Game Stories for a story on a Willmar Stingers playoff game last season, and third place in Spot News for a story on Stingers’ outfielder Forrestt Allday setting the Northwoods League walk record last season.

The Tribune competes in Division I of the MAPSE against other Minnesota newspapers under 20,000 circulation.

Congratulations to the Tribune sports department!

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy 4th of July from the West Central Tribune! We wish you and your families a wonderful holiday weekend.

If you’re looking to celebrate the 4th with a community parade or fireworks display tomorrow, make sure to check out our listing of area 4th of July events.

Here are a few interesting 4th of July numbers, from the United States Census Bureau:

  • 2.5 million: The estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation in July 1776.
    316.2 million: The nation’s estimated population on this 4th of July.
  • 56: Numbers of signers to the Declaration of Independence.

  • 65.9 million: Number of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2013. If you’re eating pork hot dogs and sausages this Fourth of July, chances are they came from Iowa. The state was home to 20.3 million hogs and pigs. North Carolina (8.9 million) and Minnesota (7.8 million) were also homes to large numbers of pigs.
  • 59: Places that have “liberty” in the name. Pennsylvania has the most, with 11. 
  • 1: Place that has “patriot” in the name. Patriot, Ind., has a population of 209.

And lastly, as we celebrate Independence Day tomorrow, let’s also take a moment to remember what the day is all about, and remember those who have fought for and defended our freedoms since this nation’s independence. We extend a huge thank you to all of our nation’s veterans and current service members and their families.

Happy Independence Day!

How will you be celebrating the holiday weekend? What’s your favorite 4th of July tradition?

Our social media roadmap

Earlier today, I gave a presentation to the Willmar Kiwanis Club about social media and how we’re using it at the Tribune to engage with our readers.

While social media isn’t the only part of my job, it is an important part. Social media is redefining how and where people read their news. Here are a few stats that I use in my presentations on social media:

  • Over 50% of people have learned of breaking news through social media
  • 1/3 of adults under 30 get news on social media every day
  • Among all people using social networks, 36% get news there

That’s a huge potential audience we could be reaching, and one that we know we can’t ignore. That’s why I’m so passionate (and many others at the Tribune are, too) about trying new things on social media to see what works and what doesn’t. After all, you won’t know until you try.

Here’s a copy of a presentation I gave at the Willmar Social Media Breakfast last month (the one I gave at Kiwanis today was a slightly shortened version of this). If you’re interested in learning more about social media and would like me to speak to your business, organization or group, please let me know! I’d be happy to share what I know with you, too.

–Ashley White, Community Content Coordinator

Did you see us on The Weather Channel?

This week, the West Central Tribune was featured on The Weather Channel for Wednesday’s front page, with the headline “Oh, say it ain’t snow.” The front page also took a look back over the miserable never ending long winter we’ve had so far.

The front page was designed by Dan Burdett, and the weather story was developed by Carolyn Lange and Susan Lunneborg. Congrats to everyone involved. We’re famous now! :-)

Who’s ready for spring?!

It’s always a busy day in the newsroom whenever there’s a snowstorm. Like most people in the area, we thought those days were behind us for another year.


This morning, I followed local people’s comments about the April snowstorm on Facebook and Twitter, and then compiled them into a Storify that I think pretty accurately represents how all of us are feeling right about now.

Here’s hoping the snow melts quickly and spring comes sooner rather than later. Stay warm!

“Focus” your attention on these stories

Last week, I wrote about how much work we put into our annual Focus section “Rising to the Challenge,” which came out yesterday. I hope all of you had a chance to see it in the paper! If not, it’s now online, and it’s the perfect weekend reading if you’re looking to stay inside and forget that it’s actually April, not January (because someone clearly forgot to tell Minnesota).

I’ve had a chance to read most of the Focus stories now, and I have to tell you, they are really fantastic. When we first started working on the section, I was a little nervous. It seemed like a huge topic to tackle and I had no idea how it would all work out. But once again, I’m blown away by all of our reporters and editors who put this section together. From the economic challenges of farming to homelessness in Kandiyohi County to health care partnerships in the area to the growing diversity in the Willmar School District, we looked at a lot of issues facing this area and what various groups are doing to handle them.

But it doesn’t really matter what I think. We’d love to know what you think of our Focus section this year. Did we represent the different areas of the community well? Is there a story we should have done instead, or should do in the future? Leave a comment here or shoot me an email at awhite@wctrib.com. Your opinion is the one that matters!

PS: I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a HUGE shout out to our features editor Sharon Bomstad, who oversaw the section from the beginning and designed all of the pages. She did a truly awesome job!

Things are coming into Focus

It’s been a stressful few weeks for many of us here at the Tribune.

For about the last month, we’ve been working hard on our annual Focus section, which will print on April 4. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Focus, it’s a special section with a theme that changes every year. (Here’s what we did last year.) This year, we chose the theme “rising to the challenge.” We looked at different areas of the community (government, health, education, agriculture, industry, manufacturing, lifestyle, business and retail) and examined how these areas are meeting the needs of the changing demographic and economy in the west central Minnesota area.

It’s going to be a really awesome section. I haven’t read anyone else’s stories yet, but from what we discussed in our brainstorming and planning meetings, I know we’re covering a wide range of topics that have a big impact within our communities.

It was a fun project to work on, but it took a lot of work. I wrote four stories for the section. To give you a little background, for a more in-depth project like this, each story involves: finding the angle (which can be the toughest part), researching the topic, reaching out to appropriate people, scheduling interviews (sometimes lots and lots of interviews), sorting through data, interviewing everyone you contacted, reviewing your interview notes and then finally sitting down to write, trying to condense everything you now know about a subject into an appropriate length that won’t turn people off from actually reading the story that you worked so hard to finish. Then times that by four.

Whew. I think it’s safe to say that many of us now feel as tired as this little guy:

At least I do. Trying to put together an additional section as large as this one, in addition to keeping up with all of your daily responsibilities and those odd jobs that just seem to pop up every day, is tough. I also had an 8-day vacation in there somewhere, which was so worth it (I went to Hawaii!) but meant that I had to have all my stories finished a few days after I got back. I think we can all agree that an impending deadline is not exactly what you want to come back to after a vacation.

Ah, Hawaii. The land of beautiful weather and a stress-free lifestyle. I loved every minute of it!

But I know that all that extra work and stress will be worth it when the section prints next week and everyone can read all of the stories we’ve put together. I hope that you pick up a paper next Thursday and let us know what you think of this year’s Focus. It’s the second one I’ve been involved with so far, and I’m very excited to see how everything turned out.

Now in the meantime, I’m off to take a nap. :-)

How do you handle big projects at work? Do you get stressed easily? How do you deal with stress?