This year I was given the opportunity to travel to San Diego to attend the annual conference of the North American Mature Publisher’s Association.

Last year, the conference was held virtually and while it was well attended by members, it was missing the connections made in person.

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The conference is held in a different city each year, usually a city where a member lives and works. San Diego was planned for 2020 but was postponed to this year to early October.

The conference is held over three days with 10 or so sessions discussing topics ranging from distribution to content. Each year there is a special speaker. This year we had the joy to listen to Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave, share what he has learned from a lifetime studying longevity and aging.

Each year the association holds an awards contest. Members send in entries that are judged by staff and students at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. The awards are announced during the conference at a gala awards banquet. I am pleased to report that The Best Times received four awards.

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For special section, we received first prize for the planned giving guide in the February 2021 issue.

“A ton of very useful information, well organized and easy to navigate. This is a real public service,” the award observed.

For the category of front cover Illustration, The Best Times received second place for the cover of the February 2021 issue.

“A lovely piece of artwork, in the shape of a heart, fits the cover topic about American heart month. The stark simplicity of the bluebird perched on a finger demands immediate attention. Several shades of blue work to balance the page.”

For our annual senior resource guide or directory, we received third prize.

“This guide is one that seniors should keep handy. Descriptions included in the listings help readers decide which resources are best suited to their needs.”

In the design category for annual senior resource guide or directory, we received third place.

“The opening spread features a clean table of contents and a smart advertiser index. A large font makes lists easy to read, and color-coding aids navigation. Several sections are organized with boxed content, which adds interest and visual variety.”

The awards ceremony is a nice part of the annual conference, but I enjoyed being with other members in San Diego. There is not a virtual substitute for natural discussion and connections made in person. Constantly during each session there would be organic discussion about any topic.

These members are publishers, editors and business owners (often wearing multiple hats) who come together to share ideas, encourage each other, discuss successes and failures from their experiences. The are passionate about their businesses, staff and publications they produce.

I returned from the trip refreshed and energized to share what I learned with my coworkers. They were impressed with the presentation given by Ken, eager to implement new thoughts into their work.

Thoughtful upon hearing some of the ideas that were shared during the event. I hope that they have benefitted from my report to them, and that you will benefit from my trip as a reader of The Best Times.

William Mitchum is social media manager and website manager at The Best Times

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