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‘Read Local’: A Letter from the Desk of Emily Winters, LP’s Marketing and Advertising Director

Emily Winters, Limestone Post's Marketing and Advertising Director, hard at work at the 4th Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts, Labor Day Weekend 2017.

Emily Winters, Limestone Post’s Marketing and Advertising Director, hard at work at the 4th Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts, Labor Day Weekend 2017.

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LP has a beautiful office on the courthouse square, filled with abstract paintings by local artist Carrie Markey.

LP has a beautiful office on the courthouse square, filled with abstract paintings by local artist Carrie Markey.

Before I started working for Limestone Post in early 2017, I passed my days in a cubicle in a windowless office. From the confines of this cube, I always enjoyed seeing the notification pop up in my inbox whenever LP published a new story. Each time was different. In a world of sifting through fake and fluffy news (and endless emails), Limestone Post intrigued me because it wasn’t always necessarily “feel good.” It was informative, in-depth, and original — representative of the Bloomington I know, while always teaching me something new.

A few of those stories from 2016 really resonated with me (and they hold up, too). Local poet Michelle Gottschlich wrote a feature about the rift between spoken and written poetry, a story worthy of a big-city literary magazine. Back when it was rumored the City of Bloomington might purchase Night Moves to make way for Switchyard Park, Paulina Guerrero wrote a nuanced piece that focused on what this meant for Night Moves employees, while also addressing the stigma that often comes with the job. And, speaking of a changing city, Sarah Gordon’s article about historic preservation and new development poignantly confronts Bloomington’s growing pains (and breaks my heart a little bit).

Speaking of food, Emily got to judge the 2017 Salsa Contest at the Bloomington Community Farmers' Market. Pictured here with fellow judges (l-r) Susan Welsand, a.k.a. "The Chile Woman," and Tim Clougher.

Speaking of food, Emily got to judge the 2017 Salsa Contest at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market. Pictured here with fellow judges (l-r) Susan Welsand, a.k.a. “The Chile Woman,” and Tim Clougher.

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LP offers food for thought (see resident sage Ruthie Cohen’s column, Stirring the Pot), but it also catalyzes positive change. For example, Ann Georgescu’s look at a mentorship program for girls in the school-to-prison pipeline inspired Indiana University students to volunteer to work with incarcerated young women. LP publishes stories that not only showcase Bloomington’s creativity and quirkiness (see Lindsay Welsch Sveen’s exploration of alternative art galleries), but they also examine issues and pose questions that help make us a more informed and engaged community.

The same goes for how LP gets by. We’re a local and independently published media LLC, and we’re committed to our motto: “Writers with a voice, photographers with a vision.” Other than the fact that we might lose sleep over a misplaced comma (we mean this), if our site has a style, it’s revealed in how each story is distinct. We have high editorial standards, but it is imperative that we don’t infringe upon a writer’s unique voice.

Now to get to where I’m going with this. Full disclosure: A lot of my job as marketing and advertising director is to sell ad space on the site. I’m relatively sane, so I readily admit that cold calling is not my favorite thing in the world. But I have to say, it feels good to get up each morning (including many a Saturday and Sunday to work the LP table at the Farmers’ Market and various art fairs and events) and do something that my heart is in 100 percent. Little by little, each of those calls is helping to strengthen our arts and literary community and fulfill the need for local, independent, long-form journalism that is free and accessible to all, while also providing an affordable and effective place for local businesses and organizations to get the word out.

LP sponsored the Run for the Animals to benefit the Monroe County Humane Society. Pictured here, l-r: Carlee LeVasseur of WildCare Inc, Felix the kestrel, and Emily.

LP sponsored the Run for the Animals to benefit the Monroe County Humane Society. Pictured here, l-r: Carlee LeVasseur of WildCare Inc, Felix the kestrel, and Emily.

These days, I get virtually all of my info online (bad pun, sorry!). There are a lot of cluttered websites out there, so, thankfully, the ads on LP aren’t obnoxious or obtrusive; plus, they’re not the kind that follow you around the internet, which is just creepy. LP is different. The ads flow with the clean design of the site, put the stories in good company, and are emblematic of the collaborative culture that is so characteristic of Bloomington’s small-business community (we’ve done stories about that, too).

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One of the first ads I sold when I started working at LP was to Women Writing for (a) Change Bloomington, and I can’t tell you how happy it made me when their director told me that they had new students register for WWf(a)C’s fall workshops because they had noticed the ad. While getting feedback like this can make my day, I am just as excited about the numbers. Being digital gives us the data. Who knows how many times somebody drives by the same billboard every day and actually sees it? Or how many times a paper mailer or print publication goes neglected, only to wind up in a recycling bin (or worse!). These aren’t questions with us. Just as we know how many people are reading our stories, we know how many readers are seeing — and engaging with — our ads.

I’ve always been a bookworm, so it’s a joy that the written word (and I’m not talking about crafting the perfect email) is now so much a part of my professional life. I love reading the work that some of Bloomington’s finest creative minds produce for us on topics that might not be explored elsewhere, and I’m honored to be one of the worker bees that makes it all happen. So I’ll make those cold calls any day. Our stories would not be told without the support of our business community. On that note, many, many thanks to the wonderful folks at the following esteemed establishments: Uptown Cafe, EcoLogic, Loren Wood Builders, Global Gifts, Women Writing for (a) Change, Blue Burro Workspace, Freitag & Martoglio Attorneys at Law, IU Press, Conservation Law Center, 4th Street Festival of the Arts & Crafts, Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District, Revolution Bike and Bean, Mathers Museum of World Cultures, WonderLab, Monroe County YMCA, Bloomington Open Studios Tour, and Owen County State Bank.

One of my favorite parts of the job is community outreach, so here’s a shout out to the local organizations we’ve collaborated with recently: Sycamore Land Trust, People and Animal Learning Services (PALS), Bloomington Pride, Monroe County Humane Association, Reel Rock Film Festival, Friends of Art Bookshop, Community Kitchen, Be Golden, Tivoli Theatre, Arts Alliance, WFHB, Buskirk-Chumley Theater, Artisan Alley, and, last but not least, Cardinal Stage Company. By supporting our advertisers and other local partners, you’re supporting Limestone Post — and, in turn, supporting our community by allowing stories to be told on the arts, outdoors, local history, current events, and all the important topics we care about in Bloomington and the surrounding areas.

So, fellow readers, I ask you to keep on reading local, supporting area businesses and nonprofits, and exploring the hills and hollers of our home. (If you haven’t already, subscribe to LP to stay up to date!) And, if you work for or know of a local business that might be interested in supporting our community endeavor while promoting their next amazing thing, mention LP to the powers that be. (Or, if you are the powers that be, I’m all ears!) The need for homegrown stories and independent voices is ever-pressing, and a diverse and robust local media enriches our culture and improves our corner of the world.

I could go on, but I’d rather leave you time to look at the rest of our magazine. Everything we’ve ever posted is available in our archives, for free, and many of the stories might reveal something you didn’t know — something intriguing and original, just like Bloomington.

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—Emily Winters

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