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June 2003

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Interview with company newsletter editor Sylvia Foster, Wikoff Color

PAGES: What is your objective as a newsletter editor

SYLVIA FOSTER: MY BIG THING (motivating objective as Editor) is that if I don't draw the reader into the content of the newsletter or if I make it difficult to read -- they simply won't read it. So no matter how great the message, if they don't read it, it's not worth the time and effort I've spent on it. For example, I'm an avid reader and NFL fan and recently I was trying to read an article in "The Roar," (Charlotte's Carolina Panthers' monthly fan magazine). The background of the article I was trying to read literally hurt my eyes so I simply moved on to another article that was more pleasant to read. The article had a bright turquoise background and a non-bold white text. Needless to say, the work done on this article was lost because the text made your eyes dance around and made it uncomfortable to focus on it. I don't want to ever do something like this -- my objective is to draw the reader into the article.

PAGES:You have quite a selection of contributors from plants around North America. How do you choose your plant reporters?

FOSTER: Many of our Wikoff's branch-plants are small -- with what once was appropriate to call "one girl" offices. This office manager does the word processing, the billing, receptionist duties, etc. She is the hub of the branch and knows pretty much whatever is going on -- who's sick, who's wife had baby, who's Dad died, etc. So, my "Newsletter Coordinator" is "generally" this person. I will either call her and ask her to be the Newsletter Coordinator or her Manager will let her know that this is one of her duties when she is hired. However, we do have a number of male coordinators -- such as Production Managers who have computer access and simply enjoy reporting the news (i.e. Marc from Montreal who likes to add quiz questions about Canada for readers).

PAGES: How do you communicate with your plant reporters? Do you send email deadline notices? Do you send ideas?

FOSTER: I communicate to the Newsletter Coordinators by email -- and then I place a hard copy of my news request to them in the mail (so that I KNOW everyone see it). Every quarter, I decide on a "theme" for the newsletter and request comments or input on the newsletter -- in addition to their all important EMPLOYEE NEWS.

PAGES: What do you think is the most widely read item in your publication?

FOSTER: I think that most everyone reads the Editorial first as it sets the theme/mood for what the newsletter will focus on. However, everyone will always read the "Plant News" for THEIR region and will read the news about what's going on at corporate headquarters here in Fort Mill (because they deal with many of us here). The newsletters are mailed "first class" to the employees home so that spouses can read about benefits and whatever else is going on with their spouse's company if they are interested.

PAGES: What do you believe is the most important thing your newsletter contributes to your company?

FOSTER: The MOST important thing our newsletter does (and my PERSONAL goal) is MAKE US FEEL LIKE ONE COMPANY -- versus 31 smaller companies set apart from one another. That's why we make it more "newsy" versus technical. We have other technical publications that specific groups received but the newsletter is the only publication that EVERY EMPLOYEE receives -- and again it goes to their home which makes it "more personal." Wikoff Color also has 36 in-plant operations so it's important that we all feel that we're a team and all working for one common goal -- the prosperity of our employee-owned company.

As you can see, I'm very passionate about this aspect of my job. As many projects as I perform, I think that being Editor of our newsletter is (a) one of the toughest and most tedious jobs I perform, (b) one of the most important and (c) the most enjoyable and self-satisfying.


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