By Karl Weisel, USAG Wiesbaden Public Affairs OfficeJanuary 9, 2008
WIESBADEN, Germany - Get ready to get connected with the new eConnection magazine, an online publication generated to keep people current on morale, welfare and recreation activities in Europe.
Several months in the making, the new online version of the former magazine went live Jan. 1, giving readers and listeners a host of interactive tools, multimedia supplements, podcasts, networking opportunities and much more, according to Dan Thompson, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden marketing chief.
"We're going to offer everything we did with Connection in the paper version and more," said Thompson, explaining that the transformation is part of overall efforts to modernize morale, welfare and recreation publicity delivery systems and to better reach younger Soldiers and family members who are more attuned to contemporary media such as mySpace.com and Facebook.com Web sites.
"Not only will eConnection be more accessible and environmentally friendly," he added, "it will give customers the ability to rate stories, print the stories they like the most, download PDFs of articles, comment on the content, contribute their own experiences and visit MWR facilities and managers in a virtual environment."
Among the many features viewers can expect to find on the new Web site are syndicated news feeds, personalized weather, enhanced interactivity, free classified ads and weblogs. "You'll really be able to carry on a conversation and give service providers a better pulse on the community to see exactly what people want or need," Thompson noted.
The magazine went from hardcopy to Web-based because, "We needed a more agile platform," said Thompson, explaining that besides providing a two-way portal for readers, it can be accessed anywhere connectivity is available - whether people are stateside or in Iraq, Wiesbaden or GrafenwAfAPhr.
eConnection offers customers a say in how services are provided, Thompson said, adding that customers will have the opportunity to rate facilities directly and the quality of information they see on the screen.
"It empowers the user because it asks for their input."
By registering with the site, customers also expand their opportunities for activities ranging from social networking to vying for free items, with the garrison's goal being to give away something valuable every month.
Additionally, people moving to USAG Wiesbaden from the States or Soldiers returning from Iraq on rest-and-recuperation leave can visit eConnection to get a jumpstart on what MWR opportunities are available.
"If they're coming back for R&R, we'll have a special section featuring trips (for that program)," said Thompson. "For those coming over from the continental United States, there'll be a video introduction where managers introduce themselves and describe their facilities. Our idea is to bring the viewer into the facility before they ever step through the door."
Customers and leaders can get immediate feedback on how they are doing by reading comments left by online visitors. "It's completely transparent," Thompson said. "If (customers) have comments, they can leave a rating or comment which is really an impetus for the manager to improve services."
Everything written also converts to sound media, which can be downloaded to be enjoyed later.
Visitors interested in travel or nutrition features, for example, can download articles to be listened to while traveling or working in the kitchen. Video sports and fitness lessons are also planned.
Thompson encouraged customers to use Wiesbaden's revamped www.armygermany.com Web site, which hosts eConnection.