Randy Rickman

Good morning and happy new year!

Although I’ve been working in Eau Claire a few days a week since November, Tuesday was my official first day as publisher of the Leader-Telegram, and I’m thankful for your time and consideration in reading this column.

A little bit about the past

When Adams Publishing Group purchased the Leader-Telegram in May 2017, many changes took place that included systems and software, policies and procedures, and reductions in staff. These were required changes to keep the business open and viable. They were the same changes most other newspapers went through over the last decade. Unfortunately, the reductions in staff, while necessary, negatively impacted employees and their families. No one ever feels good about that.

Our future is so bright

Our business is in good hands because of the autonomy given to the local leadership team and the hundreds of local employees and independent contractors who live here and invest in the same community we serve.

A few weeks ago, we met as a local leadership team and developed a list of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. We made note that the opportunity list was so long, prioritizing the right opportunities was a discipline all by itself.

Here is a short list of some of the improvements you’ll see during 2019:

Content: The future of our franchise is based in local news. Over the next several months, you will see more locally produced and procured content on topics that matter.

Local opinions: We’ll be more engaging with a variety of local community leaders to offer opinions on a variety of local topics like education, health care, economic development, entertainment and politics.

Advertising sales: In addition to a well trained and equipped sales force, you’ll see more digital products and services that will ring your register with more customers and repeat business.

Inside sales and circulation customer service: We are currently in the process of redefining our customer service and inside sales department to better serve our subscribers, classified advertisers, legal notice advertisers and funeral homes. This is a very important part of our business.

Production and printing services: Investment in human resources and equipment was required. Our parent company has stepped up with needed capital to improve quality and reliability of our printing presses and mailroom equipment.

Our industry has joined many others that require continual improvement and innovation. I’ll be the first to tell you that some of us in this business had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to the realization that if we are standing still, we are dying.

I can assure you we are no longer standing still. In fact, after a year or so of “right-sizing” our business, the smiles are returning as we gain momentum to provide our community with world class print and digital products.

Thank you for reading the Leader-Telegram and for your support over the many years. Here’s to a bright 2019.

Rickman is publisher of the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.