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Ulster County, N.Y.

Lori Childers, publisher of a small, paid circulation semiweekly in Stone Ridge, N.Y., had a dream – to create a free, county-wide weekly for Ulster County. She envisioned a paper that would tell the "essential" stories of the week and cover each town in the county. She felt busy parents and two-worker households and even single professionals just don't have time to read a daily every day. But she believed everyone needed to stay abreast of key local news that wasn't available on TV or even the radio. She felt a weekly that covered it all and was quick and easy to read could fill a void.

She needed more than a design for her new paper. To make her dream come true, Lori needed a wide range of help on everything from figuring out staffing and pay levels, to picking a printer, to ad sizes and rates. And, as a startup publisher, she needed help at the right price.

So she called on Creative Circle, where she found a supportive team who could help her with all her needs. We created a wide range of design options to help her focus her vision and worked with her on every aspect of her business and marketing plan.

The motto under the nameplate on page one says the paper delivers the "essential" news of the week. The hope is that the staff can gather the top stories from around the county and digest or showcase them in a way that respects the time crunch of busy readers.

While most inside pages are fairly traditional, section fronts in The Ulster County Press carry a high story count and a unique mix of stories, refers and briefs. Some items carry only a paragraph of type on the cover and jump inside; some items are refers only. Covers carry standalone quotes and photos. Everything falls within a 'grid' format to keep content from becoming too busy or chaotic.

We also used modular advertising throughout the paper to keep pages clean and to speed readership of both ads and editorial content. (Modular advertising also makes production easier and faster, another factor for a paper with limited staff.)

We created a map page to showcase the top briefs inside – another vision of Lori's that we helped to bring to fruition. The map shows the entire county, with briefs pinpointing news and happenings throughout the area. Key towns and hamlets are featured each week. Again, it was visual, fast and easy for both readers and the editorial staff.

We also set up web sites for the Ulster County Press featuring a community blog site where area residents can contribute calendar items, stories, opinion and photos, and an online classified entry system for placing classified ads into both the Ulster County Press and Lori's original paper, the Blue Stone Press.

Early results were promising as feedback about the new paper was widespread and positive. But the best indicator is that many distribution points quickly run out of papers each week. That's a pretty good beginning.