We recently connected with Ana Erwin and have shared our conversation below.
Ana, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Let’s start with the story of your mission. What should we know?
Everyone that works at Community Impact could recite our mission to you without thinking it twice. We live and die by it. It is why we have been able to maintain a profitable and growing business in an industry that has been so volatile over the last few decades. The first part is: “We build communities of informed citizens”, which means we will report on local news relevant to the community you live in, your own backyard in a fair and unbiased manner. Tell you the things you can’t find on Twitter and that you are probably too busy to go dig up yourself. The next part of it is “and thriving business”…we mail our publications out for free to every residential mailbox in the cities we cover, how do we do this?…you can thank our advertisers. They take out ads and in turn their message lands in every home and as a result their business thrives. Businesses also thrive thanks to our best in the bizz editorial team who write stories about the amazing local businesses serving our community. Lastly on our mission statement…”through the collaboration of a passionate team.” People always ask, how do you do it? You all look like you’re having so much fun! How do I work with you? Our secret sauce is our people and the collaboration we have every day to create this amazing product we are all so passionate about. I am so proud of our mission and how no matter what the world throws at us, it always applies and we stand firmly behind it.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
I run two local publications in NE Tarrant County covering the cities of Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake, Keller, Roanoke, Trophy Club, Westlake and NE Fort Worth. The publication is called Community Impact Newspaper and we are also online. We are a family business that was founded 17 years ago with the intention to fill a hole in the news world, giving people unbiased news about their local communities. We are now in over 60+ communities with over 36 publications and plan to have 44 by the end of this year. We are constantly innovating and it’s been a wild ride. I have been with the company for the last 9 years and have had a front row seat to our growth and to the blood, sweat and tears that got us to this point. Prior to that I worked in Marketing and PR, but my goal was always to end up in Journalism. I wrote an essay in college about my ideal job one day. The prompt asked, “look into the future, what would you do if you could do anything.” I remember thinking, I want to tell good stories. I don’t want to report on sad things or everything that is going wrong in the world, I wrote about running a good news publication. Time is funny, life is funny and God always has a plan. I am so thankful to be where I am today. I learn hard lessons every day and I can only imagine how many more hard lessons I will have learned ten years from now. I get to lead an amazing team of journalists, designers and sales people who are all running towards the same goal as me every day. We help local business thrive and we help communities stay informed. Along the way I have been able to also serve as a community volunteer with several organizations close to my heart. I am so thankful to work for an organization that cheers me on as I serve the community. That is invaluable.
Can you tell us the story behind how you met your business partner?
I met John Garrett, our CEO, over the phone. My now Publisher, Christal Howard, was sold on me right away during our in person interview, but John wasn’t there and wanted to talk to me on the phone before I accepted the job. I remember he wanted to make sure I was all in. He said to me “What are you going to tell your friends when you tell them you are leaving corporate America to go work for a newspaper?” He wanted to make sure I wasn’t just flying in for a short while and that I understood the important work I had ahead of me. He was so passionate. The type of passion that is borderline abrasive, which I identified with as a fellow super passionate individual. I assured him I was all in and two weeks later we met in person and the rest is history. John took me on my first ever sales cold call. As I was getting out of the car, he asked me to wait, he turned on the radio and had my favorite song playing. We jammed for a few minutes before going in. 9 years later and I consider him family. John Garrett is on a league of his own.
Do you have any insights you can share related to maintaining high team morale?
I really like to study my employees love languages and strengths. Everyone at Community Impact takes Gallup’s Strengths Finder test and I study everyone’s top strengths and lean on that. I also ask my employees to take the enneagram test so that I understand how they are motivated. Early on in my years in management, I noticed I was falling flat a lot. I reflected a lot and looked internally and realized I was managing everyone and motivating them the way I like to be motivated. That is such a no no. I realized I needed to speak to their individual needs and talents and that was a total game changer for me. It’s also important to be transparent with your team, own your mistakes and take action when you let someone down or don’t follow through. Just as important is to celebrate your people! That is my favorite part! I like to be really extra about it.
- Website: https://communityimpact.com/
- Instagram: @communityimpactdfw
- Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/ana-erwin-967ba935
- Twitter: AnaErwinNer