The Altoona Mirror is expanding its advertising brand with the creation of an independent, full-service marketing and communications agency.
According to Ray Eckenrode, Altoona Mirror general manager advertising, the launch of Headline Marketing & Communications is a natural evolution and expansion of the Mirror's role as the region's advertising authority.
"As the Mirror has developed and expanded its own brand and suite of products over the past decade, it's become clear there's a real need to help other companies do the same thing," Eckenrode said. "We're not just talking about designing and placing ads in all media, but developing and implementing much broader strategies involving marketing, public relations and events. This is the niche that Headline will fill in our market."
Cheryl Ebersole, who has more than 30 years of marketing experience locally in several high-profile positions, has been hired as the agency director for Headline Marketing and Communications.
"It almost seems like Cheryl invented marketing in Blair County," said Eckenrode, "and to have the breadth of her knowledge and benefit of her energy and drive gives us instant credibility and will allow us to hit the ground running with a variety of clients."
Ebersole, who's worked at Barash Advertising in State College and as the executive director of the Allegheny Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she envisions Headline Marketing and Communication as "the perfect next step in providing professional marketing, public relations and event planning without the normal agency fees and restrictions."
This agency model is the same Ebersole uses with her own company, Anterior Marketing Services, which will remain in business and serve its charter clients.
"This agency concept allows our team to concentrate on the client's needs, being more creative and making sure that every dollar they invest is allocated to cost-effective marketing," she said.
Ebersole said that with its own separate offices in the building shared by the Mirror and EZ to Use.com at 301 Cayuga Ave., Headline Marketing will be able to leverage the strengths and talents of both companies while carving out its own identity.
"Not all companies have the need of a full-time marketing department and may try to include marketing in other employee's duties," she noted. "Unfortunately, the company misses opportunities and may also overpay for advertising and services.
"Companies which do have marketing department staff frequently find the need for additional marketing experience when creating a branding campaign, launching a new product or service, celebrating a milestone or expanding their facilities. Headline is able to accommodate all of these examples at much less than it would cost to hire additional employees."
Ed Kruger, the general manger of EZ to Use.com and publisher of the Mirror, said Headline Marketing might be the perfect local solution for businesses both small to large giving them access to local advertising professional services and counsel right in their own neighborhood at rates that are more than affordable, and that will give them a real competitive advantage.
Jason Sipes, who's worked as a journalist at the Mirror and in a variety of marketing and sales positions in Blair County, will serve as the market development manager for Headline, targeting new clients and specializing in leveraging the synergies that exist with print advertising in the Mirror and EZ toUse Directories.
"Jason is well connected to Blair County's business community, especially its young professionals, and has a great understanding of how a marketing mix between 'old school' products and 'new school' digital services can deliver results in a market like ours," Eckenrode said.