Written by Maggie Samples // Photo by Balazs Balassa
Harding University hosted the Arkansas College Media Association’s annual conference April 14 as the organization sought to honor the state’s best collegiate output media. Both The Bison and Petit Jean yearbook won numerous awards, including second best of show for both publications.
The conference featured prominent figures in the communication industry, such as Rick Trujillo, an Emmy-winning Harding alumnus, and Mitch Bettis, owner and president of Arkansas Business Publishing Group.
Twelve institutions were in attendance, including Harding University, University of Central Arkansas, Ouachita Baptist University and Arkansas Tech University. Over 100 students registered to participate, attending multiple breakout-sessions of specialized content areas prior to an awards ceremony. The sessions covered topics such as ethics in journalism, freelancing and podcast journalism.
Along with Bettis, Arkansas Business Publishing Group was represented by Lance Turner, editor of the Arkansas Business weekly journal; Tiffany Mattzela, director of events; Mandy Richardson, publisher of Soirée magazine; and Katelyn Allen, staff writer and Harding alumna. Their panel spoke on niche marketing.
“We have about 30 read magazines, a digital marketing team, a whole collection of web, digital products and event division, all that focus on that niche, hyper-targeted, small audiences, providing exceptional experiences and exceptional content to a very focused group,” Bettis said during the panel.
As editor of Arkansas Business, Turner said he looks to market to CEOs in Arkansas.
“That’s the audience that we’re writing for, and so when you think about that audience there’s probably not a whole lot of those kinds of people,” Turner said. “So it’s a very small audience. It’s not the 100s of 1,000s of people who might subscribe to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette or watch daily television news. It’s kind of a sliver of that audience.”
Tawni Haley, a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant, and Tish McClure, a freelance graphic designer, spoke on freelancing. Haley and McClure both began their careers in the traditional market before moving to freelancing.
“There’s never a lack of opportunity,” Haley said. “It just grows and grows and grows because all brands, people and businesses and nonprofits, everybody needs to be able to communicate very well with audiences, and that’s never gonna change.”