The company that owns The Anniston Star soon will offer the services of a social media consultant to help local businesses promote their products and services online.
Deirdre Long will leave her job as the newspaper’s features editor and start in the new position July 7.
The opportunity came about, she said, when she went to advertising director David Bragg to pitch the idea of hiring a social media consultant. As it turns out, Bragg told her Consolidated Publishing Company’s vice president for operations and sales Robert Jackson asked him to create exactly such a position.
“It appears she is looking for a new challenge and this new challenge is a perfect fit for our company,” Jackson said.
Bragg said the choice was easy.
“She is a very, very smart lady as far as social media,” he said.
Long operates the Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts for The Star’s features sections, which include Faith, Food and Life and Arts.
She also serves as an editor for the Facebook pages of the Knox Concert Series and Downtown Market, Start Fresh in Anniston.
Long, a native of Russellville, Tenn., came to The Star in 2007 as as an intern in the newspaper’s graduate degree program with the University of Alabama. Once she graduated, she started as a page designer. She served as entertainment editor and assistant features editor before her last promotion.
Long said her consultant services will include several levels of social media marketing, from simply setting up the desired accounts to managing multiple daily posts on several social networks.
Though the services are intended as part of an advertising package, Bragg said Consolidated offers them as a stand-alone product.
“Our response over here is to say ‘yes’ and figure out how we can do it,” he said.
Jackson added that Long will help businesses served by all of the company’s six newspapers throughout northeastern Alabama.
According to Jackson, Long’s new job is part of a nationwide trend of newspapers expanding their revenue streams with digital marketing services. Such offerings have become important as print and online ad revenues have flattened, Jackson said.
New digital marketing services represented about 5 percent of the total revenues for the industry in 2013, they increased by 43 percent that same year, according to the Newspaper Association of America.
Bragg said that in terms of newspapers with The Star’s circulation, however, the move to digital marketing has just started to grow.
“I think we’re on the cutting edge,” he said.
Lisa Davis returns to features editor's post
Replacing Long as features editor will be Lisa Davis, who currently oversees Consolidated Publishing’s special publications such as Business Calhoun County.
Davis started as the features editor when she came to The Star in 2009 and served in that role until January 2013.
While editing the special publications for the last year, Davis has worked mostly from home and said she’s eager to get back in the office.
“I kind of miss the energy of being in the newsroom,” she said.
Before she joined The Star in 2009, Davis had been a freelance writer since coming to the Anniston area with her husband, Anniston Star editor and associate publisher Bob Davis, in 2003.
The couple came to the area from Texas, where they both worked in the newsroom of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.