Note: Please pardon us for tooting our horn a little bit. Many locals and volunteers have been involved in developing this website and we are very proud of this accomplishment.
By Jennifer McDaniel, Lincoln Sentinel – First published March 3, 2016
When the new LiveLincolnCounty.com website was unveiled last fall, developers hoped it would be an effective marketing tool used to tell the rest of the world what Lincoln County had to offer.
What they didn’t expect was the website would win a top award from the Kansas Press Association. Last week, Lincoln Sentinel Publisher John Baetz was notified the newspaper took top honors for the LiveLincolnCounty.com site. Each year, the KPA sponsors its annual Awards of Excellence competition to recognize outstanding work by Kansas newspapers. Contest categories focus on writing, photography, design, special sections and newspaper websites.
This year, the Lincoln Sentinel won Best Newspaper Website in the Nondaily Division I category for its collaboration on the countywide site LiveLincolnCounty.com. The site is a partnership between the county economic development’s travel and tourism taskforce, the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce and the Lincoln Sentinel.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the award,” Baetz said. “I kind of entered it as an after-thought, not quite certain if it would be up to par with some of the other competitors, but thanks to hours of work by volunteer Kris Heinze, Sentinel staffers Becky Rathbun and Abby Gerleman, LCEDF Director Kelly Larson, Chamber Director Nancy Walter, and several other volunteers, the site is already one of the best in the state of Kansas, and is still in its early stages of development.”
In mid-November, Lincoln County Economic Development Director Kelly Larson unveiled the four-pronged effort during a chamber luncheon. During that meeting, Larson explained how the marketing plan focused on four areas, building on a brand started by the Sentinel in 2012. The plan is built around a new Live Lincoln County logo, billboard signage, website and the revived magazine.
Heinze, a volunteer, who works as a web designer and technical support associate for WireReady Inc., said that developing the website has been a joy thanks to the high-caliber team who put the multi-level program together.
“Working with this fantastic team of professionals and leaders, who are so much more than simply volunteers, has been a highlight of this past year for me,” Heinze said. “Melding the high-quality work from this team of individuals – journalism, design, content vision, editing, common sense – and just positive energy and enthusiasm for improving and growing our community – has produced not just a great website, but a multi-medium marketing plan to give our community something to be proud of.”
LCEDF Director Kelly Larson emphasized the value of the partnership between the Sentinel and multiple nonprofit organizations.
“I believe the concept behind this website is very unique because of the public/private partnership behind it,” Larson said. “A year ago the county didn’t have a comprehensive website and there was no one entity that could not only create one from scratch or carry the burden of ongoing maintenance. Yet having a website is an absolute must-have in this day and age. Through this partnership, we have created a site that has a steady stream of fresh content, that is a source of information for residents, businesses, and visitors, there are a group of people to carry the load of ongoing maintenance and updates, and there is a revenue stream to continue to expand marketing efforts for the county.”
Baetz is currently contacting county business owners about marketing opportunities on the website and within the corresponding magazine. For more information, e-mail Baetz at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 785-524-6019.
The publication will be distributed free at stops along I-70, as an insert to out-of-county subscribers, through local advertisers, and in a free, online digital edition.
“The magazine is sure to reach hundreds of current residents, and thousands of potential visitors throughout the Midwest,” Baetz said.