My farewell column in North Carolina flowed so freely. After 16 years in a region, in various capacities, the memories are thick. There was much to say, so many to thank — and the words came in torrents.
But an introductory column to my new neighbors and readers? This is where the melancholy of saying goodbye transitions to the excitement and anticipation of a new start and of returning to my native Sunshine State.
So perhaps we will start this column where my farewell missive left off — a quote from the late Margaret Mead, an American anthropologist.
“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Change can be a loaded word because, like all communities, there are plenty of things here in Northwest Florida — its beauty, the kindness of its people (which we have already experienced) and much more — that should never change.
Yet I believe that the status quo is the enemy of excellence. For that reason, I want to be in communities — at work, at home, in church, in organizations, in cities and counties and neighborhoods — made up of those small groups of committed people, always looking to find a better way. I believe the Crestview News Bulletin centers on that type of community. The newspaper can change the world in so many ways.
For readers, it can be done by informing, stimulating, facilitating and entertaining.
In this age of social media, we are learning to be better listeners. While the flow of information may be fiercer in today’s world, the need for balance and perspective and facilitation is also great. We need to be cutting through the clutter to tell you what you didn’t already know. We want to be as much a place for conversation as education.
For businesses, this can be done by tapping into our vast, unparalleled audience and our knowledge of all things marketing, particularly on the digital side.
One of my fears is that when our sales folks walk into a business, customers see only a newspaper walking in the door.
From behaviorally targeted impressions to local search, pay-per-click, mobile advertising and all sorts of other digital products, newspaper advertising representatives can provide just about any type of marketing support that exists.
With all of our customers, the question should be simple: How can we get you results?
Yes, providing great content, effective marketing solutions and world-class customer service are important.
But mainly, a newspaper does those things — changes the world — by establishing relationships. By being a part of a community. By facilitating discussions on our communities’ visions and then charting paths for carrying out those plans. By partnering with businesses and organizations. By seeing customers not as numbers on a phone bank screen, but people with whom we shop and play and live.
So, this introductory column is not about my answers — it’s about your questions.
Where do we want this community to go?
What is it doing well? Not so well?
What can we do to make a great place even better?
Who are those “small groups of committed people” — folks who might not have fancy titles or positions of great influence, but who are changing this world for the better?
How can the newspaper identify those people — actually GROW the number of those groups?
Those are not rhetorical questions. I sincerely want your answers.
I was excited to accompany my wife on her first trip to the area recently. We were struck by the obvious — its unparalleled beauty, warm people and the summertime traffic on U.S. Highway 98!
And though it goes without saying, it is truly an honor to be surrounded by so many people who are, have been or will serve in the military. Talk about small groups changing the world. Our family is so excited to put down roots in the white sands of this area.
Other than Mead’s quote, I’m not leaving you with anything profound.
What you will get with me, though, is an honest, fervent effort to ask the questions that are vital to every community.
And, most importantly, to then work to answer those questions with small groups of you who are committed to changing our community — and our world — for the better.
Skip Foster is available at 315-4301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.