This last weekend our small team visited Cascade Locks, Oregon to attend Pacific Crest Trail Days, a three-day celebration that draws hundreds of hungry hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Nearly every hiker had a slight limp and a fantastic story to tell.
The Pacific Crest Trail covers 2,653 miles across 25 national forests and seven national parks. It runs from the California-Mexico border to the Washington-Canada border. Most hikers set out in early April and finish by October. That’s seven months in the wilderness, carrying a 30- to 50-lb backpack while traversing over 13,000 feet of elevation gain. It makes my legs ache just thinking about it.
To be clear, we did not hike the trail. We were simply there as outdoor enthusiasts representing our newest acquisition, OutdoorsNW Magazine. We set up a great little corner booth, and little did we know, PCT Days was a perfect starting point for our growth transition forward.
Our goal was to sign up 200 readers to our current OutdoorsNW e-newsletter. Since the event was not held in 2020, I assumed adding a few hundred new readers to our existing 12,600 subscribers would be a victory. We worked with a local retailer that donated a fantastic backpacking pack, which we used as a potential prize for signing up. Working in shifts of three, we made sure to connect with everyone that walked by.
To sweeten the deal, we enticed readers with a good ole’ fashioned game of cornhole to gain extra entries. Or, depending on where you grew up, you may call it bags, bean bag toss, bean bag game or tailgate toss. We quickly learned that the competitiveness that drives hikers on the trail also applies to games where they can win cool stuff. Young kids and seasoned PCT veterans flocked to sign up, all for a chance at cornhole glory.
Over two days and 650+ games of cornhole, we ended with more than 500 newsletter signups.
Throughout the event, we handed out hundreds of Woodinville Magazines, talked about our acquisition of OutdoorsNW and our new reporter Madysen McLain, who starts Sept. 1. As we bring Madysen on, our intention is simple: daily digital content reverse published in a print newspaper. In other words, we’ll finally begin publishing digital first.
Reactive journalism tells you what just happened. Proactive journalism informs you of what happened, but more importantly how it relates to you. We intend to be proactive.
Next week, we will begin publishing the newspaper on Fridays, rather than Thursdays. This one small change will allow us to better cover Tuesday night events, such as city council meetings and high school sports. If we cover it, report on it or write about it, we’re no longer going to wait to publish it. Since over 90% of our readers already have a digital newspaper in their pockets, purses or desktops, we’ll start there.
Soon after, we will roll out another huge accomplishment. This one is for you, our print reader. Thank you for your gratitude and support, and I hope you enjoy your new newspaper as much as we enjoy publishing it.
Watch out for the Sept. 17 Weekly.
By the third week of September, we’ll launch our new daily e-newsletter, which already has over a thousand local subscribers. As our team publishes daily digital content, our e-newsletter will serve as the digital paper boy.
And by the fourth week of September; we’ll slow it back down and focus on the one thing we do best – publishing great local journalism.