The Best of The South Oregon Coast Celebrates its 10th Publication.
People’s choice awards are a fantastic way for consumers, clients, patrons and fans to come together to support their favorites and in 2009, the leadership at The World Newspaper decided that it was time to bring this award to businesses on the South Coast. News staff, creative services, sales team and other employees came together to publish its first ever readers’ choice award, The Best of The South Coast. The World is proud this publication is alive and well, years later.
Andris Jaunzems, the Creative Services Director has been with The World coming up on 20 years and remembers when the “Best of” first came out. Andris recalls, “The purpose was to create a positive advertising experience where businesses could share themselves with readers.” Andris also points out the categories have evolved over the years. “Each year, we take in feedback from our readers and evolve the categories to reflect what the readers want to see. The voting process has evolved as well, I remember Steve McDaniel, who has since passed away, was the first to get technology involved. He was able to create the survey online, but it was very limited. It was a tedious process, counting everything by hand.” According to the Advertising Manager, Amanda Carlton, the paper votes are still tabulated by hand, and added into the results from the online survey. Over the last 10 years some businesses are clearly fan favorites and Andris points out that when he is out in the community, he still sees the awards hanging on walls from years past. His job has allowed him to be the point person for all of the design and the production of the certificates as well. He implemented the theme of the Best of, which has remained consistent since 2009. “If you notice, all of the certificates, advertising and promotion material for the Best of are scenes of the South Coast. The community takes pride in being a part of this directory.”
Dorothy “Dotti” Foley, The World Advertising Assistant has been an integral part of the last two years of the Best of. She echoes Andris in the fact the process is still tedious. Dotti is responsible for all the booking and recordkeeping, in addition to the counting of the paper ballots by hand. She says “The hardest part for me is that some people don’t write legibly. We try to decipher it, and call people over to see if anyone else can decipher, but ultimately if I can’t read it that persons vote for their favorite will not count” Dotti was quick to point out that she really enjoys the finished product from a personal standpoint. “I get a lot of ideas of where to go, where to shop, what to eat. It is helpful for me because I am new here.”
The timing of the Best of the South Coast has also evolved. Originally published in February, the coveted awards have migrated to the summer. Some of the categories are tourism based and having the voting period for one month starting in July and ending the first week of August means all of the businesses are able to put their best foot forward. When the voting closes, that’s when the team at The World really goes to work. It is a process that involves every single department at The World in some way or another. Votes are tallied, re-tallied and double-checked again. Businesses are looked up so that the correct spelling and contact information of the winning business gets posted, the plaques are ordered for the winners, and the certificates are made for the favorites, the editorial department divides up stories, the sales team notifies the winners, the creative department starts the layout and the ads, and the press team and mail room prepare for one of the largest publications of the year. From July through September, you will hear the entire staff talking about Best of. It has become a favorite amongst the staff.
Kim Hagner, is a paper planner and graphic designer, and is on her 4th Best of. She is the first and last stop of the entire publication. Her favorite part of the process is the finished product. “I love that we have an entire publication dedicated to businesses. People don’t have to go looking around to find out who has the best seafood, or the best hardware store. The can just look in the Best of.”
Beth Burback works hand in hand with all of the departments to finalize the publication and alongside with Kim ensures the publication flows properly. At 94 pages, it is imperative that the businesses, ads and editorial content works together to benefit the reader and the businesses. Beth is no stranger to the evolution process. She has been involved in the Best of for the last 5 years, but with The World for 15 years. “When I went to college, it was an Exacto knife and tape, now it is all technology but not different in as much that we are still putting the pieces of a puzzle together, I love that this project involves everyone, it is a group project that everyone invests their time and heart in.”
The Best of The South Coast fosters usually friendly competition between businesses in the same category and the categories evolve from year to year. If a reader or community member brings a proposed change, or discrepancy in a category to the attention of The World, the committee will review it. If a category is ambiguous or if there isn’t enough of like businesses then that category is changed or dropped.
Winners are determined by the number votes they receive. Sharee Shelton is on her 2nd Best of and her favorite part hands down is getting to deliver the plaques to the winners. “I love sharing that moment with people, when you tell them our community voted them the best in their category, I love the excitement, and I get excited right along with them.”
Another part of the process that is relatively new is the editorial content. The reporters at The World select different businesses to write about and one business is chosen out of literally hundreds to be on the cover. Last year, it was Coquille Valley Produce and Deli, a consistent favorite in the produce and best business of Coquille categories was on the front cover. The World Editor, Tim Epperson, distributes story ideas to his staff. World reporter, Nicholas “Nick” Johnson is on his first Best of, having come to the community last year right after the publication was wrapped up and on the streets enjoyed the process. As a reporter, he was able to go and interview different businesses, such as Hennicks in Lakeside and Bay Appliance in Coos Bay. Nick stated “The community really is enjoying this, people seem excited to show off their business and be recognized.”
Amanda stated that “The Best of the South Coast is truly a labor of love. From the moment we turn on the voting, to the last copy of the 94 page publication is dropped off, we are working together to ensure that all of this goes off without a hitch. Our entire building gets to participate somehow and we really come together as a team to make it happen. We hope you enjoy this year’s edition, and we already look forward to next year”