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Spring cleaning uncovers a simple, yet precious, treasure

Joan is reminded of writing a letter to Will Koehne.
Here’s a throwback photo of our family at Will’s graduation party.

Nothing takes you back in time like reading an old, handwritten letter that you don’t recall writing.

I was doing some spring cleaning in our son Will’s bedroom this week and came across two boxes of “treasures” he had saved. Inside one box I found a couple of letters I wrote to him six years ago, right after he left home to attend college.

I was touched. I guess those letters meant something special to him. They meant something to me, too. I couldn’t read them fast enough, yet I wanted to read them slowly to savor the memories.

Those letters to our son were filled with news about home, like his sister’s “chipmunk cheeks” because she had her wisdom teeth pulled and how we were eating green beans from the garden, even though it was late August.

Reading the letters was like opening a time capsule dated 2011 with the title: The Koehne Family Chronicles. The subtitle would have read something like this: Mom and Dad send firstborn to college – and they miss him. The words of those letters connected us to our son during a pivotal time in our lives. He was learning about independence, and we were learning about letting go. Writing those letters was a way for us to connect with our son.

Isn’t that what writing is all about? Making connections?

The writing I do today is called content marketing. I’m creating and sharing online content that piques the reader’s interest. Although the content isn’t sent in the form of a handwritten letter, it has that same ability to resonate with the reader. The content is authentic and original. It’s interesting. It’s conversational. It gives a glimpse into what’s important today.

Whether I’m writing website content, news releases, blog articles or newsletters, I strive to connect with my audience. Making that connection is one of the first steps to making a sale. What audience are you trying to connect with? How might Writer to the Rescue help you make that connection?

What moonshine and mountains taught me about marketing

Hiking in the Tennessee mountains with my husband was a lesson in taglines. I just returned from one of those quintessential vacations – a 12-hour car ride that involved my family, overstuffed suitcases and the singing of “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” We eventually made it to our destination, a resort in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. After a week of sleeping late, eating out, seeing the sights and hiking the mountain paths, we made the long trek home again.

To pass the time while traveling, I scoped out the license plates of the cars and trucks around us. I also looked for license plates when we stopped at look-out points or tourist attractions, like the aquarium we visited and the salt and pepper shaker museum. Now I can say I’ve seen some of the wildest salt and pepper shakers imaginable – 20,000 pairs altogether.

Reading along the route 

As we traveled from state to state, the license plates changed. The Welcome signs changed, too, as we crossed the borders. “America’s Dairyland” (Wisconsin) led us to the “Land of Lincoln” (Illinois) to “The Crossroads of America” (Indiana) and eventually to “The Volunteer State” (Tennessee).

Taglines were also paired with city names, like “Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains” for Gatlinburg, Tenn., and “The Center of Fun in the Smokies” for Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Potent taglines

License plates and Welcome signs make me think about the power of words and specifically, how short phrases can pack a big punch. Like the moonshine recipe we heard about on our tour, taglines are composed of a few simple ingredients. With just a few sips of moonshine, you’re feeling the effects. Don’t you want a tagline to be just as potent?

A well-conceived tagline should be descriptive and memorable. For example, as Writer to the Rescue, I’m the “Wonder Writer” who is “Saving the World One Word at a Time.” My title and motto match the superhero image of my logo and the above-and-beyond writing services I strive to provide to clients. The various themes are integrated together, and the message is clear.

What makes a strong tagline?

I believe that brainstorming is the key to developing your best tagline. Begin by listing the attributes, features and benefits of your business. Ask yourself questions like “What image do I want to portray?”  “What words will connect with my audience?” and “What is the vision I have for my company?”

Your unique brand deserves a strong tagline and well-developed marketing presence. That’s where Writer to the Rescue can help by assisting with website content, blog articles, news releases and other written communication. Send an email to joan@writertotherescue and we’ll get started.

Taglines example of the Museum of Salt & Pepper Shakers

newspaper editor

Experiences I Will Never Forget

newspaper editorEver imagine what it’d be like to drive a semi through a revolving door, squeezing the long 18-wheeler through the whirling panels without breaking or even smudging the glass? That was my dream on Oct. 13 — and it doesn’t end there. Once I got the semi through the door, my next challenge was to find my way home in Chicago traffic. Talk about a daunting task.

I, of course, don’t drive semi trucks. I don’t even know how to drive a stick-shift car — one of my New Year’s resolutions that never reached fruition. I also don’t know my way around Chicago, nor do I feel comfortable driving in big-city traffic.

That dream, I believe, characterized my upcoming departure from the Times Herald.

Believing in possibilities

Change is seldom stress-free, and leaving a career that’s become such a part of me is like trying to maneuver through revolving doors in a semi. Navigating the journey afterward is just as fraught with uncertainty.

What I had going for me in my dream, however, were my two passengers, who I think represented a support system that believed in possibilities. They jumped on board for the ride.

I woke up before I could pull away from the curb and into Chicago traffic, but I had already (magically) navigated the revolving door. I was on my way!

After nearly eight years as managing editor of the Oconto County Times Herald, it’s time for someone else to take the helm. As for my next journey, I certainly won’t be driving semi for a living! I’m starting my own business, Writer to the Rescue, “Saving the World One Word at a Time.”

Onto life’s next journey

I envision myself writing website content and blogs, newsletters, brochures and articles for online platforms and print publications. I am enrolled in the social media marketing program at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, and in May I will earn my associate degree, giving me a fresh approach to content writing. Much has changed since I earned my journalism degree in the 1980s!

This edition hits the mailboxes on my last official day as editor. As I move on, I’d like to offer my heartfelt thanks.

I’m grateful to my colleagues who were instrumental in creating a product in which we take great pride. I’m grateful to the readers and advertisers who support our publication and to those who went out on a limb to write a letter-to-the-editor. I’m grateful to the news sources who have answered my questions, posed for my photos, and returned my phone calls and emails.

Treasured time as newspaper editor

I am honored to have had the opportunity to chronicle current events since 2009, and I enjoyed telling the stories of the people of the community.

I’ve had experiences I will never forget.

No matter where my dreams take me next, my stint as editor of the Oconto County Times Herald will be something I will treasure.

Editor’s note: Wolf River Media reporter Scott Williams will provide news coverage for the Oconto County Times Herald until a full-time replacement is found for Joan.

Miller Park

3 must-dos at Miller Park

Miller ParkSomehow, seemingly without me knowing it, I became a Milwaukee Brewers fan.

By 2011, I was hooked.

That’s the year the Brewers fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. I’ve loved following the team ever since.

My enthusiasm grew over time, and I especially like listening to Bob Uecker’s deadpan humor on the Brewers’ radio broadcast.

My trips to Miller Park have been a blast, and over the past five years I’ve had some real “fan”-tastic experiences at the state-of-the art jewel that opened in 2001.

On the Milwaukee Brewers website, Miller Park is described as a park “where a fan upon encountering the brick facade and structural elegance can’t help but feel the reincarnation of baseball’s romantic past. Intimate proximity to the players, natural grass, and a unique configuration separates this ballpark from any in the world.”

Here are my Top 3 recommendations if you’re looking to enhance your Brewers baseball experience at Miller Park.

  1. Tour Miller Park

Beer Kegs

Did you know the fan-shaped roof that covers the field weighs 12 tons and takes 15 minutes to open or close? That’s what I learned on my Miller Park tour in 2015.

Our tour guide provided us with these tidbits and much more. He was knowledgeable and welcomed our questions. The behind-the-scenes look inside the stadium was a thrill. I especially liked having my son take photos of me throwing fake pitches in the bullpen, and I was awed by the stack of beer barrels in the basement. I loved seeing the broadcast booth where Bob Uecker does his play-by-play and dodges foul balls. You can learn more about the tours here.

  1. Get to know the Brewers’ “First Fan”

Tucked away in the left-field corner on the Loge Level is a multimedia presentation about the man who brought Major League Baseball back to Milwaukee. If you don’t recognize the name Allan “Bud” Selig, then you’re definitely not a baseball fan. But that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the Bud Selig Experience.

There you can view artifacts of Selig’s tenure as the Brewers’ owner and view a reproduction of his County Stadium office.

The whole feel-good experience left me with a new understanding of Selig’s love of the game and his against-all-odds effort to bring a team to his hometown.

  1. Be a kid again

BaseballsVisiting Bernie’s Clubhouse on the Terrace Level behind home plate is a must if you bring children to the game. Depending on their ages, your kids will have a variety of fun things to do in this area.

My “kid” was 22 when we visited last month, and we found plenty to entertain us. We snapped photos with one of the Brewers’ mascots, Hank the dog, depicted by a friendly person in a dog costume. We also snapped selfies with the life-sized plastic Klements Racing Sausages on display.

Then we visited the Kohl’s table to make a sign to show off, hoping to be featured on the Jumbo Tron. Sign-making brings out your creativity and is sure to bring a laugh or two. Don’t take yourself too seriously! It’s fun to bounce ideas off each and come up with some pretty awful ideas before settling on the message of the game.

So, whether you’ve been a Brewers fan for one day or your whole life, I encourage you to visit Miller Park to cheer on the Brew Crew.