Advocate special sections heralded

The Red Deer Advocate continues to earn accolades for the special sections it publishes.

The Red Deer Advocate continues to earn accolades for the special sections it publishes.

The Advocate placed first and second in the special section category of Newspapers Canada’s 2013 Great Idea Awards for excellence in newspaper marketing.

It was competing against newspapers across the country with circulations under 25,000.

In 2012, the Advocate swept all three prizes in the same category, and the year before that it claimed the second- and third-place awards.

The Advocate also placed first for marketing and promotion among small market dailies in 2011.

Advertising director Richard Smalley said the Advocate’s multi-year success at the Newspapers Canada awards is remarkable because its entries have been completely different in content and theme.

He thinks it establishes the Advocate as a “benchmark across Canada” for small market dailies.

The people who put the special sections together are the ones who deserve the credit, said Smalley.

“It’s just hats off to the staff here.”

The Advocate’s winning entry this year was a 24-page supplement celebrating Red Deer Public Schools’ 125th anniversary. The section contained a mix of stories and photos dating back to the school division’s origin as a one-room log schoolhouse.

Placing second was a salute to the town of Blackfalds, which offered 32 pages of insights into the people, amenities, opportunities and challenges of the booming community north of Red Deer.

“We were thrilled at the final results for both of them,” said Smalley, noting that the Blackfalds’ tribute even prompted a letter of thanks from town officials.

Both sections, he added, were the result of collaboration. In the case of the Red Deer Public Schools anniversary section, the school division played a critical role in putting the publication together, said Smalley. The salute to Blackfalds required input from three departments at the Advocate.

“It was such a team effort between editorial, production and advertising to put out such a strong publication.”

This year, 51 newspapers submitted 260 entries in seven award categories. They included The Mountaineer of Rocky Mountain House, which earned the top prize for promotional campaigns among community newspapers with circulations of less than 4,000.