Dear Readers for December 4, 2008

So someone in Washington has decided we are officially in a recession. Most heard comment on that revelation?

Duh.

Small business owners and managers have had no doubts that the recession was here for months now. We have watched as folks held on to their money, squeezed every penny and looked for deal-after-deal. Most of us have tried to make a few strategic moves to position our companies to be in a better place now, and a good place later.

And, yes, there will be a later. It’s not just my Pollyanna attitude. Things will get better and smart businesses will be ready to soar ahead.

I have had a little help with my strategic planning. Blount Today is a Scripps newspaper, so when Papa Scripps says to make a change, well, a change is made. Most of the time, Papa Scripps is the strong, silent type, so little fishes like Blount Today mostly get left alone.

Early this year, however, industry predictions had Papa Scripps peering over the top of his newspaper and contemplating some changes.

The first was to reduce the size of the newspaper, a nod to the ever-increasing cost of newsprint. I didn’t like that very much, as it took Blount Today from a tab-sized newspaper to a broadsheet. I thought I would hate it forever. Now I don’t. I like it. It gives our editorial folks and our advertisers some room to stretch, even in the smaller broadsheet size. We adjusted to the change and liked getting in position to be leaner and smarter when the economy turned around.

What I have learned this year is that going through a rough time economically -- be it a recession, a downturn or whatever -- is kind of like getting ready for a month-long visitor to stay at your house. It makes you really look at things. It gives you a reason to sweep under the bed, clean out the closet, or, in Blount Today terms, to evaluate how you do what you do and decide what really makes sense. We are always comfortable with sameness. Change is harder. But sometimes change is also more exciting. And if making a change allows you to say “yes” when you could previously only say “no,” then good things are sure to happen.

So what’s the point? The point is that we’re making a change. It’s not a Papa Scripps change. It’s a Blount Today team decision. And we’re excited.

On Jan. 8, Blount Today will increase the number of free-distribution racks you will find in Blount County. We will go from 77 outlets today to 140, with an end-of-the-year goal of 155. The list of businesses who have requested inside or outside racks has been growing over the past two years, and we are now going to be able to say “yes” instead of “no.” We will be able to expand our distribution in Townsend, in Greenback, in Louisville as well as in downtown Maryville.

Also on January 8, everyone in Blount County who subscribes to the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Friday edition will receive a Blount Today inside their Friday Sentinel each week. In addition to Blount County, News Sentinel subscribers in parts of Loudon county -- including Tellico and Rarity Bay -- will also get a free Blount Today.

And, on January 8, Blount Today will no longer be thrown on home driveways. The reaction to driveway delivery has been mixed, and we’ve just decided there are better ways to get our newspaper in the hands of the people who love to read it.

Because we don’t want anyone who likes the paper delivered to their doorstep to be without one, we are also now going to be able to say “yes” to another often asked question.

Beginning next week, you will be able to subscribe to Blount Today for home delivery beginning Jan. 8. The cost to have it mailed to you will be less than $32 a year. We hope you will take advantage of this for yourself or loved ones who want out-of-town delivery.

As I am out of room, next week I will tell you all about how to subscribe and how to get a rack at your place of business.

© 2008 blounttoday.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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