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State paper offers ‘life issue’ resources onlinecomment (0)

May 27, 2004

By Grace Thornton

Juanita Bush of Troy had barely pulled her Feb. 11 issue of The Alabama Baptist from the mailbox when she realized all her family members needed this particular newspaper in their hands as well.

“I have a family member who has struggled with fibromyalgia for years, and I did not know just what it was for so long,” Bush said. “The articles on fibromyalgia (in the Feb. 11 issue) were so informative and really helped me understand what a person is dealing with who has been diagnosed with this.”

Bush sent her computer searching for the articles, but when she didn’t find them on the internet for her family, she called her copier into action.

She doesn’t have to do that anymore.

It’s for Bush and others like her that The Alabama Baptist Online has launched Life Issues, a section of the Web site (www.thealabamabaptist.org) dedicated to serving the needs of Alabama Baptists on more than just a weekly basis.

“Life Issues on our Web site will be a valuable resource for readers, providing information, analysis and directions about topics relevant to their spiritual, physical and emotional health,” said Bob Terry, editor of The Alabama Baptist.

Special topics printed in The Alabama Baptist — from Building God’s House to grandparenting to dealing with diabetes — will be available on the site. Readers can access the section from the Life Issues tab on the navigation bar near the top of the home page.

“We want to be an ongoing source of helpful information for now and for years to come rather than just reacting to the headlines of the day,” Terry said. “The print edition offers that with our special topic articles, but the availability of those articles on the Web site will be a way to grow the ministry of the paper even more, since these topics never lose their importance.”

Derek Gentle, pastor of First Baptist Church, Tallassee, can already attest to the section’s usefulness. “Churches are constantly building, so the site is an undated resource,” Gentle said.

It’s available right now while First, Tallassee, is building its new facility, Gentle said, and it will be available for that church that decides to build three years from now. “It’s timeless material that’s ready when you are — a lot of helpful information for free,” he said.

Readers come to need different information at different times, said Mark Boland, president of the Internet marketing company IndustPort LLC that hosts The Alabama Baptist Online. “When [readers] got the issue of the newspaper dealing with diabetes, they might not have been diagnosed with the disease. Now, they (may) have been. What do they do now? The Web site serves as a helpful, continuously available reference.”

But the helpfulness doesn’t stop there, Boland said. “We can be a service to those dealing with specific needs by bringing suppliers, products and services to help them with those needs.”

With the launch of the Life Issues section, The Alabama Baptist Online also launched a Resource Directory to allow advertisers to couple their services with the needs of Alabama Baptists who might be accessing the different topics.

The Resource Directory accomplishes a twofold goal —it brings suppliers to the Baptists who need their products and it supplies businesses with a readily available audience, said Sue Ann Miller, director of advertising for The Alabama Baptist.

“It not only helps our readers access the services they need in addition to getting the articles and information, it also gives advertisers a mechanism with which to reach their target market,” Miller said. “Businesses who advertised alongside packages in our print edition were so happy with the response they received that offering advertising on the Web site seemed like the next logical step.”

Interested businesses purchase listings in the Resource Directory, which is located on the pulldown menu under “Resources” on the home page’s main navigation bar. Then they also may purchase clickable advertisements placed near the articles relating to their services in the Life Issues section.

Choosing to advertise in the Resource Directory was natural for Bill Hart of Magnolia Mortgage Company in Mobile — who, after success with his print ad, purchased a directory listing as well as several clickable ads on The Alabama Baptist Online.

“When we first advertised in the print edition, we were pleased to see that we got results very quickly,” Hart said. “We are also pleased to see that we have already gotten results from the Web advertisements as well.”

Hart, a member of Eastern Shore Baptist Church in Daphne, said tradition has proved Baptists to be a good target market for his business. “And we are looking forward to future results,” he said.

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