SYLACAUGA, Ala. – If you find yourself reading this, you probably didn’t come across it by accident.

A Facebook friend might have shared it. Another might have tweeted it. You could have stumbled across it on SylacaugaNews.com. Or perhaps you were specifically looking for an intriguing editorial by me.

Whatever the path, here you are.

As Director of Business Development and Manager of Digital Projects & Strategy for Marble City Media LLC, my job comes with many responsibilities, one of which — perhaps the most important these days — is creating a new online news product from the ground up. Technically, that also makes me a Managing Editor. (Modified business card to come.)

You may ask, “how do you do that?”

Simple: coffee.

It also doesn’t hurt to have experience as a local television sports and news anchor and reporter along with social media, website design, and photography/videography skills, paired with a business partner and boss who has more than 35 years’ experience working for The Associated Press where he led development of the world’s most widely used broadcast news production system.

— takes breath —

When I was approached about launching a news website, I didn’t flinch. I knew it would be a big undertaking, but at the same time, knew it would be an amazing opportunity to take my skill set and put it to use in another capacity never before explored.

Boy am I glad I took the opportunity.

Relocating from Mobile, Ala., wasn’t tough, but it was difficult to leave my family, girlfriend, dog, and the South Alabama Jaguars.

The fact that I’m now in the Marble City is surreal. I never imagined I’d live here. Honestly, I had no idea where it was until I was approached for the job. Now, I’m glad I’m here.

My mission, among other duties, is to build, maintain, and perpetuate SylacaugaNews.com, and I’m excited about bringing excellence in journalism to the greater Sylacauga area.

Being committed to the community is important to me. It’s important to our owner. It’s important to our staff. We hope our product reflects that every day, and, if it doesn’t, we expect to know.

We are committed to you and to local news. That means local sports, too. We will cover events, meetings, and breaking news. We will hold people accountable.

We are committed to telling your story. No hype, no games.

SylacaugaNews.com operates in conjunction with Yea!106.5 and WYEA!1290. On air, you will hear news/events with direction to read more about the stories on our website. On the website, you will also be linked to our radio stations. Some people call it cross-promotion; we call it creative branding.

In late August, we started the process of launching SylacaugaNews.com — framing the site, choosing the design, creating logos, informing advertisers, and producing content.

On Sept. 29, we officially launched with many expectations. They were all met, and then they were surpassed.

First, a terrible local news story broke story less than 24 hours after we launched. Unfortunately, that’s often what drives people to news sites. Consumers want breaking news, plain and simple.

Second, we had a built-in audience thanks to Tom Roberts, who folded The Local Issue product into our efforts. On Facebook, an existing audience of 2,500 was attentive and reacted graciously. Since the launch, nearly 200 more have liked the page, more than 93,800 people have been reached, and more than 7,000 have engaged with the posts, prompting nearly 800 shares.

Third, we are using some of the best analytic software on the market to monitor the progress of the site and the engagement with you and others. Real-time statistics allow us to see which articles are most engaging, what drove visitors to us, the search words that directed them to the site, and even where in the world SylacaugaNews.com is being viewed. (For some reason, folks in Idaho like us. I’m totally okay with that. I like their spuds.)

Fourth, we have an impeccable staff. We hired Caitlyn McTier and Jack Wilbanks, two outstanding Sylacauga High School seniors. Both are in the journalism department, report for SylacaugaNews.com, and have a passion for keeping their hometown informed. We will continue to grow resources, and Tom Roberts will continue to contribute on a regular basis.

We have been amazed by the impact and engagement during the first week and a half. We appreciate the support and feedback, and we also hope you will continue to help us help you. Send story ideas, news, comments, and questions to news@sylacauganews.com, and visit our contact page for more information.

Thank you for embracing SylacaugaNews.com!

– MB