Post and Courier wins Top Honors from S.C. Press Association 2022 News Contest

Congratulations to the Post and Courier team for earning top honors in the S.C. Press Association’s 2022 News Contest! For the third year in a row, Post and Courier photographer Andrew J. Whitaker carries the title of the Photojournalist of the Year. His riveting images captured the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Recognition Day at The Citadel, and also the aftermath of floodwaters in downtown Charleston. The former photograph won Whitaker first place in the Spot News Photo category.

Latasha Grant steps over a flood fence at the entrance of Green Grocery after rain and a high tide caused flooding in downtown Charleston on Sept. 9, 2022. Andrew J. Whitaker

“To be awarded Photojournalist of the Year is an honor, to be named three consecutive years is special,” Visuals Editor Matthew Fortner said.

Andrew J. Whitaker By Grace Beahm Alford

Our chief investigative reporter in Columbia, Avery Wilks, was named South Carolina’s Journalist of the Year. As the lead reporter on the Murdaugh murders saga, Wilks also handled the coverage of South Carolinians charged in the connection with the assault on the Capitol in Washington, D.C. His investigative stories also brought to light various financial crimes across the state.

“Avery functions best in a whirlwind of activity that sometimes makes him appear to be everywhere at once — at least where South Carolina’s biggest stories are concerned,” Watchdog and Public Service Team Editor Glenn Smith said. “He is one of the most tenacious, focused and productive reporters that you will find anywhere.”

Avery Wilks, investigative reporter for The Post and Courier

Another Post and Courier top honor goes to Tony Bartelme – our three-decade veteran who is the lead reporter on the Watchdog and Public Service Team. Bartelme received the Jay Bender Award for Assertive Journalism. His relentless investigation uncovered a hushed rape allegation against a powerful sheriff in Sumter County, and a codependent relationship between a pharma company and a state regulator.

“These are just a few of the stories that demonstrate Tony’s dogged and relentless drive to expose injustices, give voice to the powerless, and hold officials accountable for their actions,” Smith said.

Among other individual accolades, Post and Courier won first place in Innovation for the South Carolina Schools Explorer – our interactive, easy-to-use online tool that measures the performance of every K-12 public school in South Carolina.

Our staff was also awarded first place in the Reporting-in-Depth category for our Safety Off series highlighting the rampant gun violence in the Lowcountry area.

See the rest of the awards Post and Courier team received from the S.C. Press Association.

SC Press Association 2022 awards

Google News Initiative Case Study Learnings

In July of 2021, The Post and Courier began work on a project in conjunction with Google News Initiative (GNI). The purpose of the collaboration was to explore the efficacy of paid newsletters as a viable growth strategy for the news organization. Could the paper create alternative revenue streams and increase its digital audience effectively with this new type of subscription model? And what would that entail?

About The Post and Courier’s vision

John A. Carlos II / Special to The Post and Courier

It is worth noting that the Post and Courier has made a conscious effort to think forward. Where other traditional news organizations have shrunk, the newspaper has done quite the opposite. In 2021, The Post and Courier announced that it had grown its digital subscriber base to over 20,000. It’s also rapidly expanding, giving the paper a truly statewide reach with locations now in Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Greenville, Spartanburg, North Augusta and Hilton Head. The paper also recently doubled down on its commitment to print, building an all-new state-of-the-art printing press. The opportunity with GNI presented a chance to even further expand the brand.

As any marketer worth their salt knows, our engagement with media is constantly evolving. Wherever you look you can see the effects — whether that’s in Tik Tok being the most visited website of 2022, the advent of the Metaverse, or our consumption of movies and the surprising decline of Netflix subscriptions. To keep up with the times is imperative to be flexible and willing to experiment.

GNI Learnings

A example subscription ad for the newsletter The Tiger Take.

So in the summer of last year, The Post and Courier launched two newsletters built around collegiate athletics — The Tiger Take and Gamecocks Now. Both newsletters are subscription-based, meaning they require subscribers to pay. Gamecocks Now is written by a 20-year veteran of the beat— David Cloninger and The Tiger Take is written by Clemson newcomer, but veteran sports journalist— Jon Blau.

After seeing the success of the two sports newsletters, the paper launched the food newsletter, CHS Menu, (Charleston’s Menu) in late February of 2022. In partnership with GNI, The Post and Courier revealed a few of their findings. The main learnings were as such:


Lead growth is essential to subscriber growth. Before launching the sports newsletters there was a small number of leads. The Post and Courier had explored a free sports newsletter and used this niche audience to help grow its subscriber base. However, by placing more of an emphasis on growing the top of funnel, in 8 months the team was able to grow previous leads by 268%. These leads led to both subscriptions for the paper as well as subscriptions to the two paid newsletters.


Make ARPU a key metric. At the initial launch of the Gamecocks Now and The Tiger Take existing PC subscribers were offered a highly discounted price point as a bundle offer. While this drove subscription numbers, it ended up drastically tanking ARPU. It also, due to the nature of the sale, led to a high percentage of churn. By increasing the price of the newsletter bundle and killing the previous offer the sports newsletters were able to increase ARPU by over 8%, while also combatting churn and increasing revenue.

Estimating Audience Size

The most important learning from the partnership with GNI was helping approximate potential audience size. GNI had previously provided the target of subscription numbers to be 1.5% of the monthly audience on the paper’s website. By using these numbers the sports newsletters are already 63% to goal in only 8 months! Using this data also helped assess a proper estimate for subscribers to the food newsletter as well as the paper itself.

Open Rates

Make open rates key! Before the Apple IOS update, the sports newsletters maintained well over 40% open rates. Especially for paid newsletters, this metric is crucial to success.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can read the case study: here

Introducing Alex Kellner: Advertising Director

We’re thrilled to announce Alex Kellner as the Post and Courier’s new Advertising Director.

He replaces Michael Chauvin who recently relocated to Louisiana. A seasoned media professional with 17 years of experience, Alex most recently served as the Advertising Director for Gannett’s Louisville, KY operation.

Alex’s career includes leading a team of advertising professionals across Gannett’s five Louisiana properties, working with national brands like RJ Reynolds, Wells Fargo (then Wachovia), and Sealy, as well as numerous regional and local companies.

Alex is also a native South Carolinian who was born in Spartanburg, got married in Myrtle Beach, and graduated from Newberry College (receiving his MBA from UNC-Greensboro).

We asked Alex to share a few details about himself, in order to get to know him better.

What makes your leadership style stand out from the rest?

I grew up with one goal in life: to play professional baseball… and I failed.  Then I got an MBA, had a rapid rise in my career, failed again.  Then I reinvented myself, rose higher, and failed again.  So, I like to think that I have taken all the things I did correctly, combined those with learnings from all the things I did wrong, sprinkled in some humor, and created a different kind of leader that has been on a roll (fingers crossed).  


Being a “native” South Carolinian, what’s your favorite part about South Carolina? Charleston??

I love the food, the people, the weather, boiled peanuts, perlot, I just feel like I am home.


Being from the Lowcountry, you mentioned growing up reading and knowing about the Post and Courier. What are you looking forward to the most now that you live here in Charleston? Working for The Post and Courier? 

I can’t wait to get out and be a part of the community.  I love working with non-profits and community organizations, “being in the room where it happens.”

We have to ask…USC or Clemson?!?! 

I have always been a Gamecock fan, we had a family parking spot at Williams Brice and those are some great memories, I am not a die hard fan though; too much losing for that.


You also shared how you and your family ditched the stationary life for the RV life, even living at Disney (so to speak!) – tell us a little about that fun experience. 

It was great, we were in Kissimmee for 30 days, New Orleans for a week, transient for a few weeks and the Keys for 30 days.  I had to work most days but hopefully, the kids will look back on it and remember how much fun they had. Who gets to go to Disney every day for a month?  My favorite part though was living on Ramrod Key and getting to fish every day.  If you have never been to the Keys, I highly recommend it.   

Please join us in welcoming Alex to the team!


****President and Publisher of The Post and Courier PJ Browning contributed to this piece.****


Alison Warburton: New BASC Director

Event & Merchandising Promotions Coordinator Alison Warburton will be sporting a new title at The Post And Courier: BASC Director/Operations Supervisor. 

In her new role as Bicycle Across South Carolina Director, she will lead and organize Bicycle Across South Carolina, striving for long-term audience growth and profitability, leading revenue growth for BASC through event sponsorships and attendee registrations, and even jumping into the sales ring herself to help continue growing BASC.

In addition, Alison will supervise operations and logistics for the advertising, marketing, and event departments. 

Alison began her journey at The Post and Courier back in 2019 as a part-time Events and Merchandising Promotions Coordinator. Soon after, she was promoted into a full-time role. 

Her love of events sprouted from working as an intern for sports marketing company Octagon in Rhode Island. This opportunity allowed her to participate in the planning and execution of a 7-day event excursion that consisted of a professional golf tournament, a 2-day food festival, a women’s leadership summit, celebrity Pro-Am, and many other golf-related events where she hosted LPGA, PGA, and Champion Tour players. 

This experience lit a passion for event management, even though Alison jokes she is not an athlete by any means!

“I was never really into sports (or any good at them, don’t let the height fool you) but working in an environment that was fast-paced, innovative, and exciting was very rewarding for me.”

Alison brings that excitement into BASC. She notes that she knew she loved event planning and when the opportunity to hold BASC arose, it was a perfect fit.

“I knew I wanted to stay in events so when I came across the position for BASC I thought it could be a good fit! Turns out it was! I’ve really enjoyed learning all about the cycling industry and the unique community that surrounds it.  Building this event from the ground up has made me so attached and dedicated to it.”

Now, as BASC Director/Operations Supervisor, Alison is working on a five-year plan that includes the possibility of taking a popular path switching to gravel and off-road rides and appealing more to the “new” generation of riders that sprouted from seeking outdoor activity during COVID. 

Congratulations, Alison!

Here’s what we asked Alison!

What’s your background? Degree? Experience? Where are you from? What brought you to SC Etc.…

I originally started working in events back in my home state of Rhode Island. I started at a sports marketing company called Octagon working as an intern for a professional golf tournament hosted by CVS Health. It was a week-long event series with a professional golf tournament, a 2-day food festival, a women’s leadership summit, celebrity Pro-Am and lots of smaller golf outings – all within 7 days, it was a busy week but it trained me to thrive on 3-5 hours of sleep!

We hosted LPGA, PGA, and Champion Tour players which were super cool! I was never really into sports (or any good at them, don’t let the height fool you) but working in an environment that was fast-paced, innovative, and exciting was very rewarding for me. When I moved down to Charleston in March 2019 I didn’t really have a plan and started out part-time at Post and Courier and part-time as a waitress. I knew I wanted to stay in events so when I came across the position for BASC I thought it could be a good fit! Turns out it was! I’ve really enjoyed learning all about the cycling industry and the unique community that surrounds it.

How long have you been with The Post and Courier?

I worked part-time as the Event and Merchandising Promotions Coordinator from March 2019-September 2019 then started full-time after that! So about 2 years total. 

What piqued your interest in event planning?

I had no idea what I wanted to do throughout college. I was enjoying the internships and getting a taste of a little bit of everything! Then somehow I ended up working in golf and the rest was history! The biggest thing for me about events is when you see a year’s worth of work come to life. It the most rewarding thing to take an idea (like BASC) and turn it into a real-life event and see how happy and excited people are to be there. It very nerve-racking to host an event without seeing it before but that makes it all the more rewarding. Building this event from the ground up has made me so attached and dedicated to it.

What’s so special about BASC? Why is it important to you?

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve become so attached to this event over the past 2 years and even more so to the community surrounding it. The cycling community is so tight-knit and unique, I’ve really come to love it! They’re super cool and just want to ride bikes and drink beer – which I’m all for!

Now that your focus has turned to BASC full-time, how do you see the event growing?

I’m working on a five-year plan for the event and in my research have been finding that gravel and off-road rides are becoming much more popular than road riding, so we’re definitely on the right path! Also interesting to see the effects that COVID had on the cycling industry and how people are turning to outdoor, socially distant activities more. Most bike shops I’ve talked to can barely keep up!

Are you an avid biker yourself? What other hobbies do you enjoy? 

I actually don’t ride which surprises most people! I can ride a bike but defiantly not for 60 miles down a trail. I’ve never really been athletic but enjoy yoga, hiking, and other non-competitive activities. I’ve also been focusing on being a better cook and learning new techniques! So far I’ve conquered a whole roasted chicken, a 7-hour wine-braised roast, and more! Next up is grilled fish tacos with homemade tortillas.

How to Promote your Award-Winning Success

Charleston’s Choice is the community-based award that customers use to show love and support for their favorite local businesses.

The Charleston community nominates and votes for the top businesses in a variety of categories. Then, business owners highlight their honors and give their businesses the extra boost that awards can provide.

Here in Charleston, customers are always on the lookout for Charleston’s Choice honors, as it shows a business is the best of the best. And this goes for all types of awards any business might be recognized for. Let your community know you’ve been recognized through these branding and promotional strategies.

Are you a business owner that has been nominated? This is how you can boost your honor!

Brag in your email marketing

You’ll want to make sure that you’re bragging about your award everywhere you can. Emails are a great place for that. You can make specialized emails focused on your award. Or simply add in the honors to your existing communications.

If you have a regular newsletter, dedicate a special edition to announcing the honors. Make an event out of it and catch subscribers’ attention by detailing how and why you won.

What makes your customer relations the best in the business? Why is your business the top tourist hotspot? Awards carry prestige by nature. But customers want to know just why you’re the best.

This is also a good place to start incorporating the award logo into your branding. This would be temporary and wouldn’t be applicable in all branding locations, so there’s no need to rework your logo. So find the best way to pair your logo with the award branding and place that naturally in your emails. Have employees update their signatures to include that your business is an award winner.

Show off the award with pride

Take advantage of this time to promote your award in the digital and physical space. SEM campaigns can show web searchers that you are a business worth looking into. And traditional web page ads catch the attention of audiences in your area, if you are employing geomarketing capabilities.

Businesses with a customer-facing storefront will have an easy time showing off their award. On-location signage promotes your success to all potential customers or clients. 

But businesses located within a large office complex in their own suite don’t have the opportunity to flaunt as much. Local billboards are a good substitute and open you up for even greater reach.

If physical ads by the side of the highway aren’t your thing, you should at least be showing off your victory on your website and social media pages. Update your website’s hero image and fancy up your homepage for a few weeks to celebrate. Maybe even run a contest to show you want to celebrate with your customers, not just tell them how great you are.

Other benefits of winning awards

If you haven’t gotten your business entered into awards, consider the added benefits outside of attracting new business. The prestige of being an award-winning organization affects all aspects of business.

Awards can bring growth to your business internally as well. It’s not always about showing off the award to the public. Current staff will be able to take pride in the work they do and the company they belong to. It’s an opportunity for a great boost in company morale. So even just putting up the award logo around the office can have great effects.

The celebration events for the awards themselves can also be a great opportunity for employees of winning businesses. Award parties can be a place to network with other winning businesses and build new business relationships.

Our Charleston’s Choice celebration brings together local businesses and gives them a chance to show the community why they were selected for the top honors. Restaurants and beverage companies can share their award-winning creations with attendees.

There is always value in building your face-to-face engagement with your community. Event sponsorships can enable you to directly reach your community and professional peers. It is a great way to build your brand image.

Signs, advertisements and published announcements are the wide-reaching way to show off your accomplishment. But, an event sponsorship gives you a more intimate way to connect with potential customers or partners.

Finally, it should go without saying that a little time to unwind does wonders for everyone.