Into the issues

INTO THE ISSUES AP lets non-member weeklies republish its investigative story about 2020 election fraud Published Jan. 10, 2022 By Al Cross Almost a year ago, this column urged community newspapers to tell their readers the truth about the 2020 presidential election — that it was fairly held — to...

Would you mind showing me around?

Would you mind showing me around? By John Foust, Advertising Trainer One of the most important questions you can ask an advertising client is, “Would you mind showing me around?”Think about it. When you have a conversation in a client’s office, you get a filtered version of that person’s business....

Don’t let shortcuts thwart quality content

Don’t let shortcuts thwart quality content Published Nov. 2, 2021 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant Many newsrooms, already strained by lean staffs, have seen resources exacerbated by the economic toll of the coronavirus. Circumstances have prompted editors and reporters to take shortcuts in gathering and publishing the everyday churn of...

Cut down on exclamation marks

Cut down on exclamation marks By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Lately I have noticed a disturbing trend in print and online advertising: the overuse of exclamation marks. They’re all over the place. Interestingly, no grammar book I have ever seen has suggested using more exclamation marks – or exclamation points...

Holy Cow!: Troubling Appeals Court Ruling Holds that Tweet Link May Be Libel, Though the Linked Article Is Not

Holy Cow!: Troubling Appeals Court Ruling Holds that Tweet Link May Be Libel, Though the Linked Article Is Not Published Oct. 2021 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications You may have noticed that California Congressman Devin Nunes is in the news. If you’re interested in...

Please steal this plan

INTO THE ISSUES Please steal this plan Published Oct. 12, 2021 By Al Cross Millions of Americans say they won’t get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families and their neighbors from the coronavirus, but polling and anecdotal evidence show that some will change their minds. Community newspapers have a role...

SOS for South Carolina’s FOIA

SOS for South Carolina’s FOIA Published Sept. 2021 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications In the past several weeks and months we have seen numerous examples of local and state government boards and agencies refusing to comply with South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act. These...

The advertising sales cycle

The advertising sales cycle By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Let’s take a look at the sales cycle. For our purposes, the focus is on advertising media sales, but this concept can apply to any business. Although the cycle has a beginning and an end, the end leads to a new...

Are you telling your own stories?

Are you telling your own stories? Published Aug. 30, 2021 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant I circulated a column celebrating community newspapers earlier this year in recognition of Sunshine Week. Its publication prompted a few comments.One reader, who hailed from a Minneapolis suburb, read the column in his local paper....

Into the Issues (Aug. 2021)

INTO THE ISSUES Editorials provide leadership needed in pandemic Published Aug. 11, 2021 By Al Cross Editorials are falling from favor at many American newspapers, for various reasons, including a desire not to upset and chase away readers, especially when it comes to our increasingly tribal and polarized politics.Unfortunately, many...

Special projects energize staff, community

Special projects energize staff, community Published Aug. 3, 2021 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant I fondly characterize newsrooms as organized chaos. That definition has aptly described operations for the past 18 months with the impact of COVID-19. The story has demanded constant attention, and there are likely fewer reporters to...

Lessons from a failed advertiser

Lessons from a failed advertiser By John Foust, Advertising Trainer I remember talking to Clark about his early days in advertising. When he started his then-small marketing business, one of his first clients was a fast-food establishment that needed help with an introductory campaign. Although the store manager knew almost...

Government Accessing Electronic Communications to Identify Sources: It Can Happen to You

Government Accessing Electronic Communications to Identify Sources: It Can Happen to You Published June 2021 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications  The revelations that the U.S. Justice Department secretly sought information on reporters’ e-mail, phone and other communications has sent shock waves through media and...

Sharpen your editing with these press releases

Sharpen your editing with these press releases Published June 14, 2021 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant The hyper partisanship in today’s political landscape was on full display with passage of the American Rescue Plan. It passed on a straight party-line vote.A Minnesota congressman joined in the chorus of his fellow...

Start benchmarking performance of politicians

Start benchmarking performance of politicians Published May 18, 2021 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant It’s customary to rate the president’s performance after the first hundred days in office. The stark contrast in personalities and policies of Donald Trump and Joe Biden provides plenty of observations and commentary. National issues range...

A salute to those who wave the editorial banner

A salute to those who wave the editorial banner Published April 14, 2021 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant Last summer’s Grassroots Editor still sits in my stack of journalism publications. The edition announced the Golden Quill winners in annual competition sponsored by the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.I have...

Attack of the morale-killing bosses

Attack of the morale-killing bosses By John Foust, Advertising Trainer In my advertising and training career, I’ve observed – and heard about – a lot of boss-employee encounters. Some have been good, some have been bad.All have been instructive. In many cases, we can learn as much from the negative...

WELCOME TO SWAMPTON: A FICTIONAL HUMOR COLUMN

WELCOME TO SWAMPTON: A FICTIONAL HUMOR COLUMN Dear Mr. President Michael DeWitt, Jr. Posted March 24, 2021By Michael DeWitt, Jr.Welcome to Swampton, S.C., population 2,168, unless it’s Saturday night and we all “ride off” to the Fairdale Walmart so Momma can get her hair done for church tomorrow.   Weather ForecastThe...

Advertisers’ blind spots

Advertisers’ blind spots By John Foust, Advertising Trainer When we learned how to drive, we heard about blind spots. Those are the areas which are not visible in our rear and side view mirrors. As a result, we have to be extra careful when we change lanes. The term “blind...

New Administration Means Changes on Press Issues

New Administration Means Changes on Press Issues Published Feb. 2021 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications Any change in presidential administrations, especially when it involves a change of party affiliation, means changes in a lot of federal government personnel, stances on issues and policy changes....

Initiate conversations with your readers

Initiate conversations with your readers Published February 17, 2021 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant A reader questions your policy for reporting suicides. A retailer challenges your staff to produce timely and relevant business news.  A reporter is confronted for printing a press release charging a candidate with unfair campaign practices...

2nd Acquittal

Stuart Neiman Cartoon: 2nd Acquittal Posted February 17, 2021By Stuart Neiman This content is being shared through the S.C. News Exchange and is for use in SCPA member publications. Please use appropriate bylines and credit line

The Readers Speak

The Readers Speak Published February 2021 By SCPA Attorney Jay Bender From the earliest days newspapers in this country have published letters from readers.  A survey of early American newspapers reveals that a large portion of the content came from the letters of “correspondents.”The tradition of publishing letters to the...

What makes a good headline?

What makes a good headline? Published Feb. 8, 2021 By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Imagine the editors of a prestigious news organization sitting around a conference table discussing a breaking story. The story is written and all they need is a headline to convey its importance to readers. Someone says,...

Make public affairs coverage relevant and timely

Make public affairs coverage relevant and timely Published Jan. 21, 2021 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant How many newsrooms have received complaints about coverage of local public affairs – specifically meetings? It might be the city council, school board, county board or one of the numerous other government bodies under...

12 ad copy tips

12 ad copy tips By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Once an ad’s graphic design attracts readers’ eyes, it has to say something of value. Otherwise, readers will skip the ad and miss the message completely. Here are a dozen copywriting tips to gain and hold attention:Don’t try to appeal to...

Don’t close books just yet on 2020 elections

Don’t close books just yet on 2020 elections Published January 5, 2021 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant Mention election coverage in the aftermath of this year’s tumultuous presidential contest, and many newsrooms will likely turn a collective deaf ear. For most editors and reporters, the next cycle of elections is...

12 ad design tips

12 ad design tips By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Want to get more eyes on your ads? Let’s take a quick look at some ad design tips:Keep things simple and uncluttered. The four basic elements of a print ad are (1) headline, (2) illustrative element, (3) body copy and (4)...

12 ad campaign tips

12 ad campaign tips By John Foust, Advertising Trainer | Raligh, NC A single ad probably won’t generate much business. The real work is done in multi-ad campaigns. Here are a dozen tips: Learn from history. It’s important to study your advertiser’s marketing history. If something worked, could that tactic...

A different kind of question

A different kind of question By John Foust, Advertising Trainer One of the basics of selling is to get the right kind of information from prospects. There is a big focus on asking about prospects’ goals, target audiences, marketing budgets and previous campaign results. That’s how we put ourselves in...

Pandemic no excuse for lazy reporting

Pandemic no excuse for lazy reporting Published October 16, 2020 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant Editors and reporters are facing some of their biggest challenges in gathering news during the pandemic. Access to everyday sources is increasingly limited with no relief on the horizon. Reporters no longer can walk into...

Lessons Not Learned

Lessons Not Learned Published October 2020 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications Within the past few weeks, there have been a number of examples of government bodies and officials ignoring the open records and open meeting requirements of South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act, and...

Who do you support on the election ballot?

Who do you support on the election ballot? Published Oct. 1, 2020 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant Election season is in its final stretch, and newspapers have been there at every step. You’ve introduced candidates. You’ve quizzed them on the issues. You’ve covered the debates. Your coverage has laid the...

Lessons from other advertising sources

Lessons from other advertising sources By John Foust, Advertising Trainer As a co-founder of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher was focused on innovation and efficiency. According to legend, he once took his executive team to the Indianapolis 500 to study the pit crews. He wanted to see if some of their...

Protect Sources by Not Showing Them?

Protect Sources by Not Showing Them? Published Sept. 2020 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications The past several months of protests in reaction to police shootings have raised several First Amendment issues, including police and protestors physically attacking journalists, police detaining and arresting reporters, and...

How to handle superlatives

How to handle superlatives By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Newscaster Edward R. Murrow once said, “To be persuasive, we must be believable. To be believable, we must be credible. To be credible, we must be truthful.” Although he was referring to the reporting of news, the same can be said...

Tell the stories behind the statistics

Tell the stories behind the statistics Published Aug. 20, 2020 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant Everyday news reports are filled with statistics as COVID-19 continues to dominate headlines.The number of individuals who have tested positive and those who have died of the coronavirus. Patients hospitalized and those in ICU. Confirmed...

Ten ways to mess up an online presentation

Ten ways to mess up an online presentation By John Foust, Advertising Trainer These days, ad professionals are conducting more digital presentations than ever before. While there are some similarities with in-person meetings, there are some significant differences. Let’s take a quick look at ten of the biggest mistakes in...

Are you capturing all community voices?

Are you capturing all community voices? Published July 20, 2020 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant Minnesota is in the spotlight following the recent death of a black man during a police arrest. Racial unrest has erupted everywhere and forced all institutions and organizations – everyone – to examine attitudes toward...

Guide to aggressive reporting? Begin with the basics.

Guide to aggressive reporting? Start with the basics. Published July 2, 2020 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant A publisher once asked how I defined aggressive reporting. During my tenure at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, we considered it our badge of honor. If someone threw up roadblocks to information we...

Read any good catalogs lately?

Read any good catalogs lately? By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Over the years, I’ve heard ad professionals talk about the outstanding copywriting that can be found in catalogs. Of course, there are other approaches to advertising creativity, but catalogs excel when it comes to descriptions of product features and benefits.Some...

Protests, Free Speech and Press Freedom

Protests, Free Speech and Press Freedom Published June 16, 2020 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications The past few weeks have been tumultuous and tragic, with an ongoing pandemic, large (peaceful) protests against police misconduct and riots in some places that involved destruction of property...

Thank you, S.C. journalists

Thank you, S.C. journalists Published June 3, 2020 By Bill Rogers, Executive Director These are very tough but important times for South Carolina journalists.Demonstrations continue over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.We have seen legal protests turn into violent confrontations with cars set afire, businesses damaged...

Daniel Island News publisher to lead state press association

Daniel Island News publisher to lead S.C. Press Association Suzanne Detar, publisher of The Daniel Island News, has been elected president of the South Carolina Press Association. Suzanne Detar, publisher of The Daniel Island News, has been elected president of the S.C. Press Association after a digital vote of the...

In search of the perfect headline

In search of the perfect headline By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Years ago, a keynote speaker at a local Ad Club meeting asked us to put ourselves in a consumer’s shoes. “Let’s say your name is John Doe,” he said. “One day you’re turning the pages of the newspaper and...

Advertising is a problem-solving business

Advertising is a problem-solving business By John Foust, Advertising Trainer When I heard the doorbell ring that Saturday afternoon, I did something I had never done before. I bought something from a door-to-door salesperson.It was a pest control representative who was canvassing the neighborhood for new business. The logo on...

Death Certificates

Death Certificates Published April 28, 2020 By SCPA Attorney Jay Bender When I die, I expect friends, acquaintances, and perhaps strangers to ask a common question, “How did he die?” The answer to that question for all persons who die in South Carolina is recorded on an official state record—a...

Is your company data safe during COVID-19?

Is your company data safe during COVID-19? By Randall Savely, SCPA Director of Operations Over the past several weeks, many of us have begun using work structures that look much different than our normal structures. Like our office, perhaps your office’s data security policies were not prepared to deal with...

Prepare a go-bag for presentations

By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Richard is an advertiser who has seen years of sales presentations. His pet peeve is any salesperson who shows up unprepared. “It’s a waste of valuable time to be in a meeting where someone is not ready for the topic at hand,” he said. “I...

Public meetings in a time of pandemic

Public meetings in a time of pandemic Published March 11, 2020 By SCPA Attorney Jay Bender The current strategy to stall the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus is the maintenance of “social distance,” personal hygiene and youth. On the social distance side of the ledger, the Columbia Mayor...

It’s all about the benefits

It’s all about the benefits By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Rob is the marketing director for an outdoor apparel company. I remember a conversation with him about his philosophy of promoting their products. “It’s all about benefits,” he said. “Every time a new product is developed – or an existing...

It pays to pay attention

It pays to pay attention By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Abby, who owns a retail store, told me about an appointment with a salesperson from her local newspaper. “I did plenty of research before I contacted him and decided to run a campaign in his paper. When I called him,...

Waccamaw publisher releases novel on Civil War hero Robert Smalls

Steve Robertson releases novel on Civil War hero Robert Smalls FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: For more information contact: Steve Robertson steve.robertson@myhorrynews.com 843-325-1500 Black History Month article (Free with attribution) In the early morning hours of May 12, 1862, a young slave astonished a nation, torn by Civil War, when he commandeered Charleston’s...

Get prospects involved in your presentations

Get prospects involved in your presentations By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Back in my ad agency days, I remember hearing and reading about the importance of getting prospects involved in sales presentations. At that point in my young career, I had experienced the difficulty of getting – and holding –...

Summerville Communications, Georgetown Communications name Kelly-Gilbert publisher

Summerville Communications, Georgetown Communications name Kelly-Gilbert publisher Susan Kelly-Gilbert has joined Summerville Communications as its new publisher and advertising manager.She is also publisher of Georgetown Communications, which publishes the Georgetown Times and South Strand News.Kelly-Gilbert began with the community news organization in October, working out of the company’s Summerville office...

Meet them where they are

Meet them where they are By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Tim manages an ad sales team. “When I started my career in the newspaper business, I quickly learned that advertisers can be worlds apart in their knowledge of marketing,” he said. “That’s why one of my favorite sales principles is...

Garnet Media Group national wins

USC's Garnet Media Group wins multiple first-place honors in prestigious national student media contests Efforts by creative services team and student-run organizations recognized with 17 awardsGarnet Media Group, also known as the Office of Student Media at the University of South Carolina, recently earned national honors in four awards contests...

I love you guys

I love you guys By Ed Henninger, Newspaper Design Consultant I’ve been a consultant for 30 years…a newspaper editor and manager for 20 years before that. At the end of this year, I’ll retire — officially, and for good. It’s been a wonderful, exciting ride and I’ve been blessed in...

The value of simplicity

The value of simplicity By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Statisticians disagree on the number of commercial messages we are exposed to each day. Some say 1,000. Some say as many as 3,000. And others claim the number is closer to 20,000. With estimates all over the map, all I can...

25 on-the-job ideals

25 on-the-job ideals By Ed Henninger, Newspaper Design Consultant After more than 30 years as the Director of Henninger Consulting, the time has come for me to shift my attention to Julia, family, grandkids and guitar. I’m not the “retiring type,” but I will become so at the end of...

October Media Law Updates

Media Law Updates: ADA Suit Against S.C. Newspaper; FCC Net Neutrality Repeal Upheld, While Repeal of Cross-Ownership Ban Vacated Published Oct. 16, 2019 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications ADA Lawsuit Over South Carolina Newspaper’s Web Site: In August I wrote about the question of...

Legal Q&A: Can/should an agency require a person filing a FOI request include name, telephone number, physical address?

Legal Q&A (10.16.19) Q. Can/should an agency require a person filing a FOI request include name, telephone number, physical address? By SCPA Attorney Taylor Smith A. Public bodies, including, but limited to, state agencies, are not required to gather contact information of a SCFOIA requester beyond what is necessary to...