The McClatchy Company
The Island Packet
10 Buck Island Road
Bluffton, SC 29910
Phone: 843-706-8100

Fundraising oyster roasts -- where these
oysters are headed -- are a popular way
to raise money for area schools and charities.

The Paper

Mission Statement/Motto: To be the leading newspaper and internet publisher for the Lowcountry of South Carolina and to aggressively extend our brand thorough innovation and creativity by capitalizing on opportunities in our market.

Founding: In 1970, two enterprising men, real estate developer Tom Wamsley and former newspaperman and retired Foreign Service officer Ralph Hilton, decided Hilton Head Island needed a newspaper. But they lacked the money. Soon after, Hilton was having lunch at a local restaurant and ran into Lucy and Jonathan Daniels. Daniels was editor emeritus of the Raleigh News & Observer, which his family owned. Lucy agreed to front the money for the new newspaper ($5,000) and Jonathan agreed to write a weekly column.

The first edition rolled off the press on July 9, 1970. It was tabloid-size, 20 pages, and came out on Thursday afternoons to the island with only 3,000 residents. The paper sold for 15 cents a copy at selected locations on the island; its subscriber list was based on a membership list borrowed from the Hilton Head Island Women's Association. The Packet gradually grew from a weekly tabloid into a daily broadsheet newspaper.

Aligators are common in local waterways.
Key Executives:
Sara Johnson Borton, President and Publisher; President of Lowcountry Operations
Fitz McAden, Executive Editor
Jeff Kidd, Editor
Beth Patton, Vice President, Marketing
Jolie Bagonzi, Vice President, Human Resources
Sandy Gillis, Vice President, Advertising
Cynthia Taulbee, Vice President, Finance
William King, Vice President, Production
Henry Woloszyk, Vice President, Circulation
Matt Engels, Vice President, Information Technology
Bryan Osborn, Vice President, Digital and Business Development

General Hiring Contact:
Jolie Bagonzi, Vice President, Human Resources
The Island Packet/The Beaufort Gazette
P. O. Box 5727
Hilton Head Island, SC 29938
Fax: 843-706-8239.

Distinction: Quote of the day at top of page 1; identified as one the best newspapers in the South by the Encyclopedia of Southern History; consistently wins more awards than any other paper in state journalism competitions; one of fastest-growing newspapers in the country; recognized as one of "10 That Do It Right" by Editor & Publisher in 2004.

Market: The Island Packet's primary market serves southern Beaufort County, which is a composed of the communities of Hilton Head Island and the greater Bluffton area. The Packet also serves readers and advertisers in neighboring Jasper County.

Hilton Head Island is known worldwide for its top-notch golf courses and tennis facilities, long stretches of white, sandy beaches, great shopping and some of the best restaurants in the South. Nearly 39,000 people live on the island year-round. It is estimated that 2.5 million people visit each year. Thus, the tourism industry continues to be the island's largest source of revenue.

Bluffton is a hot spot for new businesses and new residents. Located just across the bridge from Hilton Head Island on the mainland, Bluffton is one of the fastest-growing areas in the state. Approximately 37,000 people live in greater Bluffton and county officials estimate 82,000-plus by 2025.

Circulation Area: The Packet is distributed in Beaufort, Hampton and Jasper counties in South Carolina and Chatham County (Savannah) in Georgia.

A worshiper puts heart and
soul into a gospel number
during Sunday services at
Mt. Calvary Missionary
Baptist Church.
Customers: The Island Packet serves a very diverse group of readers – wealthy CEOs and corporate executives as well as low- to moderate-income residents who work in the service, hospitality and real estate industries. Hilton Head Island is no longer only a retirement community. Over 30% of the area's households are families with children, 79% of the Packet readers have a college education, and 53% are employed full time. Thirty percent are retired, 82% own their own homes and have a household income of
$67,500. The Packet also serves the tourist market.

Site: The Packet is located at the focal point of southern Beaufort County's highest growth area – greater Bluffton. Its offices and production facility occupy 10 acres at the corner of U.S. 278 and Buck Island Road. Editorial, advertising and support offices are located in a 30,000 square foot building completed in 1999. A new 50,000-square-foot production facility whose centerpiece is a state-of-the-art KBA Prisma press was launched in 2007. The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette are published from the Bluffton site.

Daily: 17,728
Sunday: 20,050

Daily: 53,000
Sunday: 60,000

Daily: 28 to 48 pages
Sunday: 72 to 96 pages

Single-Copy Sales:
Daily – 16.5%
Sunday – 23.2%

Production: A 2006 KBA Prisma (double-wide, one around) became operational in December 2007. The 75,000 copies-per-hour press has five full-color towers with six reel stands.

Color: 40 Broadsheet pages, full-color for all pages.

Newspaper Website:
1.7 million average monthly page views with 256,000 unique users

Employees: The Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette have 123 full-time and 8 part-time employees

Newsroom staff: 37 full-time employees

Major Awards: McClatchy President's Awards in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007(2), 2008

2009 S.C. Press Association awards: 30 awards, the most of any newspaper in the under-26,000 circulation category. Won both the President's Cup and general excellence awards. Nine first-place awards; five awards competing against all other dailies in the state.

Reporter Renee Dudley won the 2010 Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award ($10,000) for reporting showing ill effects of a state law that withheld EMS records from the public.

Investigative Reporters and Editors: Honorable mention in 2005 for a series examining the failings of the state's physician disciplinary system.

Southern Newspaper Publishers Association: Third-place, 2005 Carmage Walls Commentary contest for editorials.

Associated Press Sports Editors (under 40,000 circulation category): *2005: Sports editor Jeff Kidd, third place for explanatory writing
*2006: Sports editor Jeff Kidd, first place for enterprise writing; top 10 daily section
*2007: Sports editor Jeff Kidd, second place for project reporting
*2008: Reporter Justin Jarrett, first place for project reporting; top 10 Sunday section; top 10 Heritage special section
*2009: Top 10 special section on Heritage golf tournament

Major Advertisers: Belk, Lowe's, Home Depot, Walgreen's, CVS, Target, Wal-Mart, Publix, Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Kroger, Sea Pines Resort, ReMax Island Realty, Charter One Realty & Marketing, Dunes Marketing Group, Best Buy, Palmetto Bluff Real Estate Development, Hampton Hall/Toll Brothers, Centex Home Builders, Haverty's.

Creative Ventures: Direct mail program, commercial printing, article and photo reprint program.

Special Publications: Experience Hilton Head, a guide for visitors; The Source, informational guide for new residents and visitors; Bluffton Packet, a weekly zoned and extended reach tabloid news/advertising section distributed free to Bluffton residents; Sun City Packet; published monthly for residents of Pulte Homes' Sun City Hilton Head retirement community; Medical Directory; Fit!, quarterly healthy lifestyle magazine; Coastal Carolina Destinations, out-of-market visitor magazine and TV Week.

Well-Known Newsroom Personality: Columnist David Lauderdale and Editor Jeff Kidd.

Community Involvement: United Way of Beaufort County, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, March of Dimes' WalkAmerica, Hilton Head Island Celebrity Golf tournament, Deep Well Project, Literacy Volunteers, Hilton Head Orchestra, Native Islander Gullah Celebration, Family Fiesta Latina, Verizon Heritage PGA golf tournament, Bravo - A Celebration of the Arts, Coastal Discovery Museum, Community Christmas Tree Lighting, Adopt-A-Beach program and The Island Packet's World's Largest Yard Sale. Media partnership with WSAV (NBC affiliate) TV station based in Savannah, Ga.

The Community

A speedboat heads up a stretch of the pristine
Colleton River.
Market: Hilton Head Island is a worldwide tourist destination. More than 2.5 million people visit the island annually, pumping more than $1 billion into the local economy. Many of the area's residents were once vacationers who decided to make the Hilton Head area their permanent home. As the island's population grew, Bluffton, located on the mainland across the bridge from Hilton Head, emerged as the more affordably priced community of Hilton Head.  Sun City Hilton Head, a retirement community established in 1995, was the catalyst for brisk growth in the greater Bluffton area. Since then, many other housing developments and national retailers have staked their claim in the fastest-growing areas in the state. Until recently, the largest minority group in southern Beaufort County was the African-American community. Now, the growing Hispanic community rivals the number of African Americans.

Location: Hilton Head Island is located about 45 minutes north of Savannah, Ga., 45 minutes south of Beaufort, S.C, and approximately two hours south of Charleston, S.C.

Transportation: Airports: Hilton Head Island Airport is located in the center of the island; Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is located outside Savannah, 45 miles southwest of Hilton Head. U.S. Highway 278 runs through the heart of Hilton Head Island and Bluffton. Interstate 95 passes 10 miles west of Bluffton. Amtrak stations are located in Savannah and Yemassee, S.C. Greyhound Bus Lines operates terminals in Savannah, Ga., and Beaufort, S.C.

Hilton Head Island: 39,000
Greater Bluffton: 37,000

City Households:
Occupied households on Hilton Head Island: 6,250; in greater Bluffton: 15,400.

Household Growth Rate:
Hilton Head Island: About 1%
Greater Bluffton: Current population of 37,000 is projected to nearly double by 2020.

Education: 79% are college educated

Ethnic Makeup:
White: 82%
African American: 9%
Hispanic: 9%

Median Age:
Hilton Head Island: 46
Bluffton: 40

Average Income:
Hilton Head Island: $72,750
Bluffton: $58,472

Median Home Value:
Hilton Head Island: $320,000
Bluffton: $200,000

Average Rent: For one-bedroom apartment/condo, $750 per month; for two-bedroom apartment/condo, $800 to $1,000 per month.

Climate: Temperate, subtropical climate. Winter: 30 to 50 degrees; spring and fall: 50 to 80 degrees; summer: 80 to 100 degrees.

Major Employers/Industries: Tourism and real estate drive the Lowcountry economy.
Sea Pines Real Estate Company, Charter One Realty & Marketing, ReMax Island Realty, Weichart Realty and Dunes Marketing Group, Westin Resort, Crowne Plaza and Marriott Beach & Golf Resort.  Other major employers: Hargray Communications, Hilton Head Hospital, Coastal Carolina Medical Center, Palmetto Electric Cooperative, Beaufort County School District, University of South Carolina - Beaufort.

The Heritage of Golf golf tournament opening
ceremony starts with a boom, literally, as a
cannon fires after the opening drive.
Major Retailers: Belk, Steinmart, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Target, Lowe's, Home Depot, Old Navy, Home Goods, Walgreen's, CVS, Sak's Off Fifth, Home Goods, Barnes & Noble, Banana Republic, Talbot's, Coldwater Creek, Brookstone, Ann Taylor Loft, Tanger Outlet Discount Mall (includes Polo, Gap, Banana Republic, Nike, Brooks Brothers, Ellen Tracy, Dana Buchman and Coach).

Higher Learning: University of South Carolina – Beaufort; Technical College of the Lowcountry; Savannah College of Art and Design.

Culture: Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Hilton Head Dance Theatre, Hilton Head Symphony, Coastal Discovery Museum, May River Theater, Hilton Head Community Youth Theater and numerous art galleries.

Sports: Savannah Sand Gnats, minor league baseball, located in Savannah, Ga.; Annual Verizon Heritage PGA Heritage tournament.

Major Annual Events: The Heritage PGA golf tournament, FoodFest, WineFest, WingFest, Chili Cook-off, Rib Burn-off, Cajun Festival, Hilton Head Island St. Patrick's Day parade, Bluffton Christmas parade, Bluffton's May River Festival, The Island Packet's World's Largest Yard Sale, polo tournaments, Concours d' Elegance antique and luxury car show.

Tourist Attractions: The beach, golf, tennis, shopping, dining, Harbour Town and lighthouse, South Beach Marina, Shelter Cove Harbour, Fort Mitchell, Church of the Cross, Calhoun Street, Secession Oak, Palmetto Dunes fireworks.

Recreation: Beach, golf, tennis, parks, biking, windsurfing, riding personal watercraft, parasailing, kayaking, boating, fishing, horseback riding, putt-putt golf, nature tours, shrimping and crabbing.

Nightlife: South end of Hilton Head Island offers the most nightlife with a wide range of dining and live entertainment options.

Claim to Fame: Home of the Verizon Heritage PGA golf tournament; Hilton Head Island's planned-community development has been studied and replicated worldwide.

Famous Citizens: Authors John Jakes, Patricia Cornwell, Sandra Brown, former TV host Garry Moore, musician John Mellencamp, tennis star greats Stan Smith, Rod Laver, Evonne Goolagong, Dennis Van Der Meer, basketball legend Michael Jordan, Mark Messier, former New York Rangers hockey player, Chris Gardocki, Pittsburgh Steelers; and Charles Fraser, urban land planner and developer. Former New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay retired here.

Trivia: What is a packet? Packet boats were the travel, delivery and communications link between many barrier islands and the mainland along the Intracoastal Waterway before bridges were built.

Area Information:
Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce

Recent Issues of the Newspaper:
The Island Packet's customer service department: 843-706-8100.

(This profile was last updated on Nov. 18, 2010)

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