BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – In an effort to become a more well-rounded news outlet and bring more information to the north Lee County market, Pen City Current is expanding its platform.
Lee Vandenberg, the company’s president, announced this week that a new full-time digital marketing sales consultant and a part-time reporter have been added to the company to assist its news and advertising partners in their efforts to message effectively.
“Due to the wonderful reaction to our business over the past two and a half years, we’ve decided to make additional investments in our brand to help meet the needs of all our customers – advertisers and newsmakers,” Vandenberg said.
“We’re extremely excited and proud to add a name very familiar to our community to the brand. Brian Wright has agreed to join our efforts to be the top digital messaging outlet in southeast Iowa.”
Wright comes from a strong background in sales and marketing with stints in the pharmaceutical industry for several companies and minor/major league baseball.
“I’m going back to my roots in marketing, advertising, and sponsorship, having been employed by Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball, while working with businesses and brands to drive customers to their place of business or website for purchase through promotion,” Wright said. “Since 2000, I have sold solutions to the needs of patients faced with medical conditions as a pharmaceutical sales representative. With Pen City Current, I can now offer a solution to the needs of area businesses in Burlington, Fort Madison, Keokuk and surrounding areas.”
Wright said in today’s global, high-tech economy, messaging is instantaneous and ever-present.
“I want my customers to be diverse in their brand marketing. Don’t put all your resources into one form of advertising platform. The most successful of businesses utilize and take advantage of the market that exists,” he said. “Seventy-seven percent of Americans own a smartphone and 90% get their news via mobile device with 89% using the Internet an average of 24 hours per week.”
He said digital advertising accounts for 2/3 or $60 billion of ad revenue in the United States annually.
“The power is in the palm of most Americans’ hands, and the power of persuasion is in the form of digital marketing. I can build persuasion around a businesses brand through a strategic partnership with each individual business and and its budget,” he said.
“I have the resources through Pen City Current partnerships to offer pinpoint accuracy for every demographic and brand category to help drive specific or general targeting and I want to thank you for the opportunity to be part of your business success through digital marketing with Pen City Current. I look forward to helping grow your business”.
Pen City Current editor Chuck Vandenberg said people can stop thinking he has a twin, as a new face is already being seen around north Lee County sports.
Ethan Lillard, the former sports editor at the Hancock County Journal-Pilot and radio broadcaster out of Carthage, has joined the team as a sports/news reporter.
Lillard will be covering all Fort Madison High School sports and will also be splitting his time in a new partnership with Radio Keokuk, which broadcasts on the FM dial at Z93.9, and the AM dial at KOKX 1310.
Lillard signed on with Radio Keokuk to bring live home broadcasts of FMHS Bloodhound sports. Vandenberg said as part of a blossoming partnership with Radio Keokuk, Lillard agreed to provide sports content out of FMHS for the Pen City Current, as well.
“Working as a shared employee of the Pen City Current and Radio Keokuk is truly a dream come true for me. I get to apply my nearly three years of experience as a newspaper sports editor with my sports broadcasting experience and continue to grow at each,” Lillard said.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunities both of these companies present and look forward to bringing Lee County a product they might not have necessarily seen before. Broadcasting, taking pictures and notes, and capturing a story for each game is a challenge I not only accept, but look forward to.”
Lee Vandenberg said the partnership with Radio Keokuk makes perfect sense since both companies are new, dynamic pieces to the media environment in Lee County, and it makes good business sense to share resources with co-owners Mike Greenwald and Leah Jones.
“We’ve been watching what was happening at Radio Keokuk since Mike and Leah breathed new life into that station, and it’s been impressive this first year,” Vandenberg said. “We’re a lot alike in that we are all doing what we love and having a lot of fun. At the same time, we both have some neat ideas about news and marketing that are going to surprise some people.”
Greenwald said the last generation’s radio is gone and traditional newspapers are in steep decline. Now those with big ideas and a grasp of how people want their information are going to be those that advance in the industry.
“I see this partnership as a natural progression for both businesses. Media has changed, and radio as it once was 30 years ago is dead. We need to be on social media and the Internet to remain relevant to the next generation. With the Pen City Current and Radio Keokuk sharing news resources we can be more efficient in covering all of Lee County and bringing stories to our audiences.”
Greenwald’s passion for radio comes from his childhood.
“I grew up listening to the radio. Learning about the world we live in, and especially discovering new music. I was that 10-year-old kid who would call the radio station after my parents went to sleep to make a song request, and wait with a cassette tape ready to record it the second I heard the song begin,” he said.
Greenwald is ever-present in the community circles and knows the importance of providing timely, accurate news, while at the same time being a source of day-to-day connection and entertainment.
In addition to owning and managing several business in Keokuk, Greenwald has been on the Keokuk Concert Association Board, Keokuk Fine Arts Council, a member of his Church Council, President of the Keokuk Lions Club, President of the Keokuk Area Chamber of Commerce, Keokuk Economic Development Corporation, SCC Foundation Board, KAH Auxiliary including chairing Kardiac Kapers, and is currently the 5th Ward Keokuk City Councilman.
Radio Keokuk Co-Owner Leah Jones, said the partnership actually started almost a year ago.
“Chuck Vandenberg and the Pen City Current have been right beside Radio Keokuk with their support since square one,” Jones said. “A partnership like this makes sense, benefits Lee County, and is something we are very proud of.”