Des Moines Register: Cavan Reagan Reichmann

Cavan Reagan Reichman is the Des Moines Register’s digital editor/social media.  Cavan found me and added this blog to their blogger widget on the Business site of It is my honor to interview Cavan.  

Here’s a funny thing — Cavan recommends that bloggers create their posts in readable sections.  Usually that means – short.  This blog post is not short!  I promise you though, it is readable

What is it you do?

 I’m focused on finding new ways to get our content to readers by watching where they already go online and finding smart ways to connect with them there in a way that makes it easier for them to find the content they want from us.

 I recruit and work with dozens of bloggers in the community and help readers use the user-generated content tools on our sites. I try to promote good discussions on our sites and gather feedback from our audiences on what we’re doing.

I  help our staff members understand the best ways for them to be using social media in their areas, and work with our marketing team to promote what we’re doing in these realms. 

I’m the editor of and, both of which rely heavily on social media, and work with the online components of our magazines and lifestyle content.

Oh, and once I brought a fog machine to a meeting and set off the fire alarm. Where did the idea for that come from? How do you fit in with a group of moms?

We’re part of the network through a partnership with Ripple6 (@Ripple6 on Twitter). Our parent company, Gannett, owns moms-focused sites in dozens of cities. The idea started at our paper in Indianapolis. We got to jump into about two years ago and we rebranded all of them as sites last year. It’s a basic idea: give moms a way to connect with other local moms to share stories and advice. Now we also offer coupons, a Moms Marketplace and some other cool features, with more coming soon.

Of course, I’m not a mom. Or even a woman
. So I’m lucky to be able to work with Katie Kunert, the host of the site, the writer behind True Mom Chronicles and a graphic artist at the Register, as well as Jen Hanson and Sommer Brads, two local moms who are discussion leaders on the site. We work together with others at the Register to make the site a valuable resource. I work behind the scenes on bringing new features to the site and working with other Gannett editors, though there are many days I want to jump into the conversations I see on the site.

I like — but I don’t live in Des Moines. Should I participate?

Iowa seems so unique in how big our geographically based communities can feel. While some of the discussions on the site are about local events, business or restaurants, the advice is universal. So jump in! Here’s a great site for social marketing! Tell me how this site got started – and where you see it going. launched in 2005 when we launched Juice, a weekly magazine geared toward 25-to-34-year-old professionals in the metro area. Des Moines really has a strong community of young professionals, and the city has grown so much since Juice launched. focuses on networking, people, style and health. You can find lots of great community bloggers (as well as Juice staff members’ blogs), photos from networking events and our projects like the Juice Fitness Challenged and Forever Changed. We also have an entertainment Web site,, and both sites help power the magazine.

Cavan, our readers like to know a little about you. Relationships require we get to know each other!

I’m originally from the Los Angeles area. My dad’s family is from California (and Ireland before that) and my mom’s family is from Taiwan. I was an Air Force brat, and we moved to England and got to travel around Europe a lot when I was a kid. We moved to Omaha when I was 10, and I went to Iowa State, then started working at the Register right away. My husband’s name is Scott, and he’s one of the managers at the Apple Store. Which means, yes, we’re both a little nerdy when it comes right down to it. We also have a dog and a cat. We’re not the kind of people who talk about their pets like they are children. But we’re talking about a really cute dog and cat here.

I see you promote Cozi. What is it and why do you promote it?

Cozi is a site that helps families stay organized. You can do some pretty fun stuff on it, like set up a grocery list and calendar that your entire family can add items to. Just watch out for your kids adding nothing but candy to the list. That is another partnership with Gannett, similar to how we built the network.

Iowa State was your alma mater. You did grad work at Mizzou? How did college prepare you for the journalistic world?

I’m completing Mizzou’s media management master’s program. It’s designed for working journalists and is online except for a few trips to campus for seminars and defending your thesis. Mizzou has such a strong journalism program, and it’s great to be part of that and continue working full-time. (I mentioned I’m a nerd, right?)

I went to Iowa State as an undergrad, and was the editor of the student newspaper, the Iowa State Daily, my senior year. It’s so hard to know how to prepare students for journalism anymore. I’m thankful for my experience from the Daily, my ISU professors and being able to jump into the digital world so early on in my career. That’s a great way to make sure you’re constantly learning about this rapidly changing industry.

How can the Des Moines Register be improved?

It all comes down to focusing on what our audience wants from us and balancing that with our role in society as watchdogs. Newspapers in general must be more agile when it comes to adapting to the changes. There is a way to keep our history and tradition alive while also finding new ways to get our content to the right people.

All businesses have to fight for time now. Certainly money is a factor, but we’re not just talking about purchasing decisions anymore. We are all inundated with information, and we need help cutting through it to get to what’s relevant. If we feel like there are smarter ways to spend our time to get through that information, we’ll go for it.

You have graciously added me to the blogger widget at What do you look for in a blogger for your widget?

My goal is to make it easier for readers to find local, relevant business content. They’re already on our business page, so why not help them find even more information they might find useful? I believe you are the farther from the metro area – but when I was keeping tabs on all the business blogs I could find, you won me over with your focus on social media. I thought that was something that would be valuable to our readers.

Where do you see social media taking us in the near future/ in the far future?

It all goes back to time and trust.

The more value you can get out of social media, the more you’ll use it, and the more it will start popping up in new areas of your life. 

It was not long ago at all that businesses would not consider social media marketing or having their CEOs tweeting or blogging as a worthwhile use of resources. Now look at what’s out there, and how quickly it’s evolved. It would be silly to think there aren’t more massive changes on the way.

The biggest lesson social media can offer businesses is this: Listen to, and react to, customers. (I didn’t say your customers, either. All of them.) Don’t assume you’re in control of your brand, just like you can’t control the masses. Respect their time, interact with them, and you’ll be surprised at the outcome.

For a person new to social media – what do you recommend the first three things they should do?

Figure out what you want out of the experience before you jump in. That reduces the odds of getting frustrated and feeling like it wasn’t a good use of your time.

Listen to others’ experiences with social media. No amount of using it will convince you of its power as much as hearing a trusted friend or colleague explain why it’s valuable to them.

You’re a content provider now. You can pick the content you’re broadcasting, and you can usually control who it’s going to. But you have to own that role, or you won’t get much out of playing the game.