Newspapers should connect with their communities, make them better

By Alexander Gould

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Alexander Gould

As I sat down, I was not sure what ideas and thoughts were going to be presented to me from the Ole Miss students who earlier in the semester as part of their campaigns class were challenged with an objective of improving how area businesses perceive us.

While each group approached the issue differently, it became very clear all had a common theme: We must improve our connection with our community.

Read that again — we must improve our connection with our community. I asked you to read it again so it really sinks in, because, like me, it was not what you expected to hear from this group of college age students, was it? I was waiting for someone to tell me, “you should be all digital,” “you need to invent a new app,” or “create more video,” but none of that was ever said.

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Is denying a defamatory accusation actionable as libel?

By John C. Henegan Sr.

Just another day at the office

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John C. Henegan Sr.

A reporter brings you a story about a matter of interest to the entire community. The story tells how local law enforcement personnel responded to a mass shooting at a local school that took place a week earlier, and the accusations of distraught parents. The parents claim that a deputy sheriff stated that some of the school children were wounded by friendly fire from an unidentified local police officer.

The reporter has asked the sheriff to respond. The sheriff, who led a coordinated attack against the shooter from a command vehicle with audio-contact with his deputies and local police, says that the parents are deeply upset, which is understandable, but they are wrong. Due to their emotional state at the time, they must have misunderstood the deputy.

Your paper has published similar stories from around the country. The adequacy of training received by first responders is a recurring issue. Are you going to run the story as is, and if not, what do you plan to do?

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She really could light up a room

By Layne Bruce

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Layne Bruce

BRUCE, Miss. — It was mentioned a good bit over the last few days how she truly did have the ability to light up every room she entered. And, with an individual like Lisa McNeece, that didn’t always mean the same thing. With someone like Lisa, you’re never left wondering how she feels.

Mostly, though, when she entered the room, you could not mistake her warmth and effervescence nor her good humor. Lisa was engaging and funny, feisty and protective, vivacious and nurturing. She was genuine. What you saw was what you got.

The two of us shared a similar sense of humor, and often that meant we were poking fun at the absurd moments of life. She also had an admirable knack for making light of awkward moments — those times when most of us would not exactly know what to say.

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BrandingForward: Finding balance

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Ole Miss IMC students (from left): Emily Stalcup, Lindsey Munson, Duncan Trumble, Nick Bushart and Taylor Pendleton helped identify opportunities for maximizing engagement across multiple content platforms for The Meridian Star.

In a time when new age media is fighting for control of the news marketplace, it is important for traditional media to expand and adapt. The Meridian Star is a long-lasting newspaper in Meridian, Mississippi, which has total control and saturation of their print media market. However, they have other outlets such as digital, mobile and a magazine that they would like to expand and promote.

Finding a way to present these services on an equal playing field required maneuvering the focal point of the businesses. We developed an overarching conglomerate we named MStar to help provide brand consistency across the platforms. MStar would be the umbrella brand under which every publication and service would be presented to audiences.

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Identifying objectives, opportunities

By Bryan Cody, Ramsey Purvis, Brooke Bonura and Tomas Vivero

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Recommendations to boost branding and leverage other promotional opportunities for The Meridian Star are being developed by Ole Miss IMC students (from left) Bryan Cody, Ramsey Purvis, Brooke Bonura and Tomas Vivero.

Throughout this semester our integrated marketing communications campaigns class has focused on identifying objectives and opportunities for The Meridian Star. When our class met with publisher Alexander Gould early in the semester, we were able to ask him questions about day-to-day operations. This allowed us to understand what objectives needed to be met, and the opportunities for us to reach those objectives.

One of the first objectives we realized was that The Meridian Star needed to be more involved in the community in order to grow its support base to generate more revenue. Through community engagement, staff can boost awareness of the paper, other publications and added business-to-business services such as printing. Ways to meet this objective we are recommending include hosting community events such as a holiday lights contest, with competitors and winners featured on The Meridian Star’s front page/home page and also publishing more community-focused articles about local people, businesses and events.

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Insight key to development of effective marketing plan

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Ole Miss students (from left) Darby Frisbie, Kedrick Smith, Molly Chain and Hayley Day are simulating an integrated marketing communications agency, gaining real-world experience by developing a promotional plan for brand awareness and expanded services of The Meridian Star.

By Darby Frisbie, Kedrick Smith, Molly Chain & Hayley Day

As our capstone course for the integrated marketing degree program at Ole Miss, we are applying our skills of marketing and research to boost new objectives of The Meridian Star. We have analyzed the company needs and what the organization could do to grow its business.

The Meridian Star is positioned uniquely and we intend to identify ways the organization can preserve this uniqueness. By understanding audiences and sharing ideas in class, we are gaining more detailed understanding to help The Meridian Star realize these objectives for their daily business.

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And the road goes on…

“Take another shot of courage.
Wonder why the right words never come.
You just get numb.”—Don Henley

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Ray Mosby

By Ray Mosby

ROLLING FORK— Twenty-five years.

A quarter of a century. A third of the average lifetime. That qualifies as a milestone, I think.

At very least, that’s a large enough sample to be representative. That’s enough time to accumulate an awful lot of data and that is enough time to adequately test it.

So I think it perhaps time for some evaluation.

It has been 25 years since I gathered up what then constituted my little family and moved to a place I’d never really been, where I knew not one soul to try to do something that I was not at all sure would even work.

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