Business Solutions for Spring 2022

S P R I NG 2 0 2 2 VOLUME 5 • I SSUE 2 Have More Fun, Get More Done 3 Spotlight: Rustic Acres Jellystone Park 4 Does Your Business Have a Technology Plan? 6 Brand Advocates are Your Raving Fans 7 I NS I DE CONT ENT S BUSINESS solutions Yogi Bear Moves to Rustic Acres Jellystone Park

This spring issue is about fun and fundamentals. In it, Madison Communications reminds you to devote time to lighthearted activities as well as the more serious tasks required to run your business. Page 3’s article invites you to Have More Fun, Get More Done. We’re happy to report that work environments that welcome and encourage humor often have productivityboosting effects on employees. That’s something we can all smile about. The fun continues on pages 4 and 5, where you’ll find a Business Spotlight on Rustic Acres Jellystone Park. Owners BJ and Jennifer Davis have created a fun place for families to make memories, and thanks to recent improvements and additions to the campground, this season is poised to be the best one yet. Madison Communications keeps everyone connected with high speed internet and phone services. We turn your attention to fundamentals on page 6, where we ask the question, Does Your Business Have a Technology Plan? This type of planning is key to making better decisions regarding hardware, software, and technical support. Then on page 7, you can explore a few marketing fundamentals in Brand Advocates are Your Raving Fans. We believe fun and fundamentals can easily coexist when you’re passionate about your work. That’s how we feel, which is why we enjoy helping you achieve your business goals. Sincerely, The Madison Team 2 S P R I N G 2 0 2 2 Madison Communications Main Office: Madison Communications 21668 Double Arch Road Staunton, IL 62088 Monday – Saturday, 8:00 – 5:00 p.m. Payment Drop-Off Centers: 118 E State, Hamel, IL 594 Livingston Av, Livingston, IL 315 W Main, Staunton, IL 21668 Double Arch Rd, Staunton, IL Mailing Address: Madison Communications PO Box 29 Staunton, IL 62088 Customer Service: Phone: 800-422-4848 Email: Fax: 618-635-7213 Publication Contact: Lexy Hagler, Marketing Coordinator President: Robert W. Schwartz Business Solutions is a publication of Madison Communications 21668 Double Arch Road Staunton, IL 62088 Editorial and Circulation Contact: Lexy Hagler PO Box 29 Staunton, IL 62088 Extra issues are available to business customer employees on a limited basis while supplies last. Contact: Lexy Hagler, PO Box 29, Staunton, IL 62088, 618-635-5000 All brand names and product names used in this publication are trade names, service marks, trademarks, or registered trademarks of their respective owners. Copyright© 2022 by Madison Communications and Cornerstone Publishing Group, Inc. BUSINESS solutions

S P R I N G 2 0 2 2 3 BUSINESS solutions In recent years, more and more companies have begun to recognize the need for a little levity around the office. So much so that many consultants now make a living offering advice on how to infuse humor and fun into the workplace. Why? The answer is simple. Studies have demonstrated that laughter has positive effects on both our physical and mental health. In fact, laughing enhances the immune system, lowers blood pressure, and even releases natural antidepressants and painkillers in the body. This boost to our systems can result in fewer missed days, less illness, and reduced stress. But those benefits are just the beginning. Creating an atmosphere that welcomes humor often leads to productivity-boosting effects. Laughter improves morale, cuts down on employee turnover, reduces conflict, strengthens teamwork, builds loyalty, and fosters creativity. What’s more, laughing at work can help counteract the inevitable boredom that arises out of dull tasks and keeps people attentive during long meetings. Remember recess when you were a kid? Think of workplace humor as the adult equivalent of recess—a way to renew energy and focus. As comedian Milton Berle once said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.” Many employers now say that a good sense of humor is even a key factor when choosing new hires. This trait is seen as reflective of a person’s flexibility at work and an ability to build good rapport with colleagues. With just a little effort, you can make your workplace a little more fun for everyone. After all, Americans typically spend more waking hours at work than at home, so it’s a good idea to find ways to enjoy it. And with all the benefits of laughter, you may be laughing your way to the bank. Have More Fun, Get More Done Tips for Effectively Using Humor While at work, you need to make sure your attempts at humor don’t venture into offensive or disruptive territory. Keep these tips in mind: • Be self-deprecating. We all appreciate people who can laugh at themselves from time to time. Don’t take yourself too seriously! • Find humor in stressful situations. By pointing out the funny side of a task or project your team is working on, your colleagues will easily relate—and no one will get their feelings hurt. • Add humor to the agenda. Devote the first two or three minutes of each meeting to humor and lighten the conversation before getting down to business. • Avoid sarcasm. Sarcasm may work with your closest friends but in a work environment, it can be misinterpreted as a put-down or a thinly veiled comment on someone’s actual work habits or skills. Likewise, remarks and jokes related to race or gender are strictly off-limits.

4 S P R I N G 2 0 2 2 BUSINESS spotlight Why? Because the campground joined the Jellystone Park system and is now Rustic Acres Jellystone Park. Founded in 1969, the Jellystone Park system includes more than 75 locations, making it the second largest campground franchise in the country. Family-Friendly Fun Jennifer Davis said, “Our dream was always to create a fun and safe place for families to come to and make memories. Jellystone Park’s mission and vision aligns with that idea, so it’s a good fit for us. In preparation for the 2022 season, we’ve renovated 23 sites to allow for easier in and out of trailers. We’ve also built and replaced 100 picnic tables and created new fire rings for the sites.” Rustic Acres Jellystone Park is located in New Douglas, IL, four miles east of Interstate 55 at Exit 37 (Livingston/New Douglas) and within an hour’s drive of downtown St. Louis and Springfield, IL. Nestled on 68 country acres, it offers a variety of lodging options, park features, and activities. Families can stay in a rental cabin or make use of a tent site, RV site, or pull-through site. A full hookup is readily available and the campground is pet friendly. Once settled in, adults and kids will have no shortage of things to do, since Rustic Acres Jellystone Park features all this: • Large swimming pool • Two lakes for fishing • Volleyball and basketball courts • Playground • Ball field • Outdoor games such as gaga ball and horseshoes • Activities such as foam parties, gem mining, jumping pillows, laser tag, and wagon rides • Crafts such as paint-your-own ceramics and tye dye • First-rate entertainment ranging from live bands and DJ dance parties to clowns and puppet shows Rustic Acres Jellystone Park BJ and Jennifer Davis have owned and operated Rustic Acres Campground since 2017. This season, however, will be the start of something extra special. The characters of Yogi Bear, Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, and Cindy Bear will also be walking around the place. A family favorite begins a new chapter in 2022

S P R I N G 2 0 2 2 5 BUSINESS solutions “Every week this season, which runs April through October, we have themed activities planned—like Discovering Dinosaurs, Witches and Wizards, Pirates and Mermaids, Hawaiian Luau, and more,” Davis said. Convenient and Reliable Services In addition, Rustic Acres Jellystone Park offers a general store, golf cart rentals, laundry facilities, a pavilion, a snack shop, and free Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi service is provided at select locations via high speed internet from Madison Communications. Our phone service is also in use at the Rustic Acres Jellystone Park office. What does Davis think of Madison Communications? She replied, “Our internet speed and reliability are great. We’ve had no issues, and visitors have had no complaints. We’re also pleased with the performance of our phone service. The few times we’ve needed help with something, their tech support is always willing to come up with quick solutions for us.” Camping Has Grown in Popularity We couldn’t wrap up this article about Rustic Acres Jellystone Park without touching on the impact of the pandemic. Davis noted, “We were lucky. The pandemic helped the camping industry, since it was one of the only ways people could get out of the house and enjoy themselves. We saw year-over-year increases since the pandemic began, and this year is no different. Camping has become very popular. We certainly hope this growth continues in the years ahead.” Who’s Minding Your Business? Daron Verbais Broadband Technician Daron Verbais has worked in the communications industry for 22 years and joined Madison Communications as a Broadband Technician in 2019. What does the job entail? Verbais replied, “Madison offers an entire suite of products and services on different distribution networks—from traditional twisted-pair cable to coax and fiber optics. I have to be ready to install and tackle issues on any one of them. No day is ever the same. I could start out installing TV and internet in someone’s home, and then move on to fix a plant issue or a damaged cable.” He added, “The most rewarding part of my job is being able to quickly isolate a problem in our network and improve our customers’ experience. It’s not always an easy fix, but that’s what makes it all the more rewarding.” Verbais lives in Godfrey with his wife of almost 20 years and their 18-yearold daughter and 15-year-old son. Regarding hobbies, he said, “In my spare time, you’ll probably find me listening to music or fiddling around with a guitar or bass. But I’ll leave the real music to the pros!”

6 S P R I N G 2 0 2 2 Think strategically about hardware, software, and technical support Does Your Business Have a Technology Plan? A technology plan is similar to a business plan, financial plan, or human resources plan, in that it helps you tie a specific area of your business to overall business goals. A technology plan can help you think about the future, allowing you to prepare for your company’s upcoming needs and grow as technology changes over time. Your company needs a technology plan, no matter its size or offerings, and whether or not it specializes in technology. Benefits of a Technology Plan With a technology plan, your company can proactively adapt to, and keep up with, technological advances, which is beneficial in a number of ways: • You’ll be more likely to meet technology goals if you have them. A technology plan is where you can record such goals and track their progress. • Your business will have the right equipment to meet new customer demands. • You’ll be ahead of the technology curve, signaling to customers that you’re competent in other areas of your business as well. • You’ll have a budget for purchasing new technology so these expenses won’t come as a surprise and throw off your finances. • Your business may attract younger workers to whom up-todate technology is not just an added bonus, but expected. • You may save money. By not planning ahead, you risk having technology that becomes obsolete and needs to be replaced every few years. Thinking ahead and investing in better equipment can also result in fewer problems and less time and money needed to deal with them. How to Get Started The first step in building a technology plan is to assess your company’s current technology. Ask for feedback from both customers and employees to see what needs to be improved. Look for areas of your business that could use more technology to make the work more efficient. Also, look for places where you may have technology that you don’t need (for example, printers in a paperless office). Next, think about what you want to accomplish in your business and how technology can help. Set goals accordingly. Make sure to consider the feasibility of the goals, including how much time and money it will take to complete each one. Consider what technology might be needed if your company grows and how technology may change over time. After you create the plan, it’s time to start implementation. Don’t forget to revisit and revise it each year. Technology plans help businesses reach their goals. For more information about how Madison Communications can help meet your needs, call 1-800-422-4848 or visit

S P R I N G 2 0 2 2 7 BUSINESS solutions Customers who buy your products are great, and those who tell a few others about you are even better. But the most valuable type of customers are your raving fans, otherwise known as brand advocates. These customers can have a huge impact on your business since they love it so much they regularly want to sing its praises. Brand advocates will tell glowing stories about your products and services during conversations with friends, family, and co-workers. They will also post enthusiastic recommendations online via social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can take steps to help encourage and develop brand advocates: 1. Hire employees who are passionate about your products and your mission. This enthusiasm will naturally spread to customers with which they interact. 2. Provide great products with desired features. It may seem obvious, but product features are the factor that advocates mention most when asked what makes them want to rave about a company. 3. Make it easy for brand advocates to cheer about you. Provide social links on your website product pages, articles, blogs, and any other content you post online. 4. Consider offering rewards. Acknowledging brand advocates with discounts, freebies, and special services can ensure they continue spreading the word. However, proceed carefully with this since other customers may be turned off if they believe you are “paying” advocates to share their enthusiasm. 5. Make it easy for advocates who create their own content to share it with the world. You could create a section on your website devoted to customers who want to post photos of themselves using your products. 6. Track and measure advocacy for your brand. Research the best online tools to use to determine what people are saying about you, and use the information to build future promotions. Loyal brand advocates are more than just customers; they’re an informal extension of your marketing department. Nurture them and watch your business win! Brand Advocates are Your Raving Fans Security Reminders for Wi-Fi Networks It’s important to stay on top of Wi-Fi security, since unsecured Wi-Fi connections can allow hackers to steal identities, passwords, and other sensitive data. Small businesses with limited IT resources are particularly vulnerable. Be sure to do the following: • Replace a router’s default login credentials. Most routers come with a default username or password that can easily be found online by hackers. Always change the login credentials of a new router to something complex and random. • Create a strong, long password and change it regularly. We know you might prefer to come up with a short, easy-to-remember Wi-Fi password and use it for years. But that makes things easier for hackers as well. The strongest passwords have at least 15 characters with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols. • Update firmware. Firmware is software that gives the router or wireless access point its functionality. Like any software, firmware sometimes has bugs or security vulnerabilities that require security patches and upgrades. • Set up private and public access. Having both employees and customers on the same Wi-Fi network increases your security risk. Use a Service Set Identifier (SSID) to create two separate access points for your network.

As a small business owner, you have enough on your plate. Let Madison Communications function as your IT Department. Our highly skilled technicians can provide services including: To learn more, call 1-800-422-4848. YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALL • Router and switch installations • Network design and monitoring • Point-to-Point services • OP system support • Server and workstation management • Workstation installation and support • Software installation and setup • Virus and malware removal • Onsite and offsite data backup • Website development and management • E mail support for Exchange, SmarterMail, and Office 365