Update: Buffy Andrews and her colleagues at the York Daily Record will be getting a box of Valentine’s candy soon, winning my Valentine’s engagement project with 365 votes just over 50 percent. But the voting and engagement was strong enough that I’m going to send a second box of candy to the second-place finisher, the Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., which got 283 votes for 39 percent.
Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis tweeted that her newsroom cared most about winning:
Still, I’m guessing the candy will be consumed.
I also should add that this is not all the Valentine’s engagement that Digital First newsrooms did, just the ones that provided the information for the contest. Delaware County Times mentioned in a Feb. 8 message:
Tonight (Wednesday) on our live-stream ‘Live From the Newsroom’ show, we are assembling our special gastronomic panel to delve into the mysteries of romance for Valentine’s Day, and in particular what food has to do with it. One chef is preparing a rack of lamb and talking about what foods will – and won’t – put you in the mood. … For Valentine’s Day, we are soliciting readers via social media to share the ultimate sign of devotion – a tattoo. Hopefully we’ll have some decent video and stories that take a look at the love stories behind the tattoos.
Reporter Paul Luce elaborated in a Feb. 9 email:
For the Daily Times’ Valentine’s Day Community Engagement Project, we decided to take a fun look at “love tattoos.” Utilizing Facebook and Twitter, we’ve solicited responses from folks who have tattoos of loved ones, or — even better — have had tattoos of loved ones removed.
It has generated quite a buzz on our Facebook page, from which I have gleaned a couple of great sources for interviews for the story. Internet Editor Vince Carey, Assignment Editor Jon Tuleya and myself have been monitoring the Facebook and Twitter pages, using them as interactive tools to converse with readers online — which has been a lot of fun. One reader even went so far as to send us pictures of her tattoos! She has a great story to go along with them. I’ve also garnered a few more followers to my Twitter account from this process.
In addition, I’ve contacted a laser surgeon who removes thousands of love tattoos each year.
For a video component of the story, we have some videos of a father getting a tattoo of his late son for Valentine’s Day, as well as interviews with the above-mentioned surgeon and others with tattoos of loved ones.
We’re looking to wrap up interviews and video shoots today, and have the project finished by Friday.
I asked Paul for an update Tuesday and didn’t hear back, so I forgot to include it the Delco project. But I looked up the final project to show you that we had more engagement going on than what I included in the contest.
Digital First Media newsrooms have been competing for a box of Valentine’s candy. I offered to send a Priority Mail box stuffed with candy to the newsroom running the best community engagement project centered on the holiday we associate with romance.
Several newsrooms and their communities responded to the challenge with interesting projects. I’d like your help to pick the best one.
Here are the entries, in the order they were submitted (in some cases, I’m combining multiple messages updating the project):
Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis, engagement editor of the Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., sent this proposal Jan. 31:
Here is my proposal for the Morning Sun’s Valentine’s Day engagement project. It is multi-faceted and involves several staff members, and incorporates social media, community engagement, visuals and web and print content.
Announce through social media, the website and in print our “Love Birds” contest. Readers can share, in 2 or 3 sentences, their story of first love, best proposals, true love, etc. Essentially, their best love story. All entries have to be accompanied by a photograph of the couple (non. professional). At the submission deadline, the photos are placed in an album on facebook with the caption containing their submitted love story and on a Morning Sun photos “pin board” on Pinterest. Each caption will also contain a link to a slideshow on our website featuring all the entries. At the end of the contest period, the story/couple that gets the most repins/likes wins a gift certificate to a restaurant and they will be featured in an article. I will be handling the submissions and contest stuff, including creating the slideshow on the website and placing the submissions on Facebook and Pinterest.
Additionally, we will crowd source, using Facebook and Twitter, worst break-up stories. I think this topic could get a lot of community conversation, and could be pretty funny.
On Valentine’s day, we will run a story written by Susan Field (reporter) featuring the winning couple. I’m envisioning a sweet little feature asking what their secret to love success is, most romantic moments, who was their love role model, etc. This will also have photo/s to go along with it, shot by me or a photo stringer.
As a side bar, we will used the crowd sourced break-up responses (plus some more interviewing of some of the respondents) to write an anti-love, worst break-ups piece. Ryan Berlin (reporter) will be writing this.
As a companion piece to the story, I will create a video in which we interview some kindergartners and some “veterans” of love at the Commission on Aging, asking them to simply answer “what is love to you?” Short little answer with pretty light. Not a Tier 2 video, but still sweet.
To promote the package, I will create a word cloud using the responses from the video. I’ll use the word cloud as an image on Facebook, and include a link to the story/video in the caption.
Also I’m promoting the contest on the local radio station this week, chatting about it with a DJ.
And again, she sent this update on Valentine’s Day:
We started our engagement project with a contest, asking for readers to submit photos and stories for a publicly-judged contest. We received 11 entries. The winning entry would earn a gift certificate for dinner for two, and would be featured in a story on Valentine’s Day.
We posted the 11 entries as photos with the love stories as captions on Facebook and Pinterest, and asked the audience to “like” or “repin” their favorite stories. In total, on Facebook we had 502 likes of individual photos in the contest, and 17 “shares” of individual photos. The album itself was shared 11 times and liked 14 times.
According to the insights on Facebook, during the contest period we gained 39 new fans of our page. During that time we had 60,467 post views (up 48%) and our feedback number was 718 (up 306% !!)
The Feb. 4th Lovebirds contest album had a total reach of 1,394, with 1,294 of those reached considered “engaged” users. 491 people were “talking about” the album, and the virality percentage of the album was 35.22%.
Pinterest was less exciting, although it’s a fairly new site, and our very first experiment in using it for engagement purposes. Our contest pinboard acquired 18 followers. Contest entries had a total of 16 “repins” that counted as votes, and 28 “likes” which didn’t count as votes but did engage the audience in some way.
On our website, the initial call for entries had 321 views. When we posted our contest entrants (slideshow) with directions on how to vote, we received 1,546 page views. We also promoted the call for entries through Facebook and Twitter by using a romantic photo with a link to our directions on our website.
Once our contest winner was decided, we started crowd sourcing responses for an ant-Valentine’s day story. We asked on Facebook and twitter for readers to share their worst first date stories, or the worst ways to break up with someone. We received 25 responses in 3 separate posts on Facebook, and no response on Twitter.
Last night, our package went live on the website. We created an aggregation article that contains links to our two stories (contest winner feature and breaking up is hard to do), plus a video featuring kindergartners answering the question “what is love?” (We’ve gotten more than one smart remark “singing” that song, too:)). We also added links to stories written earlier in the week that are Valentine’s related. We created a word cloud using responses from the video and also asked Facebook users the same question about love, and used the word cloud as an art element to promote on the website and through Facebook and Pinterest.
As of 3 pm today:
- The aggregation article has had 162 views.
- The Love story contest winner article has had 2812 views and is our top story today so far.
- The break up story has had 567 views.
This idea comes via Paula Mitchell with a bit of tweaking on my part.
We are looking for the most unusual couples stories of how people met their mate to be featured online and in print. So we are asking through social media (FB, twitter, G+), our site and in print, if members of our community have a peculiar (or terribly romantic) story for the feature.
The idea is to pile them up and make a “When Harry Met Sally”-type of video to accompany the story.
We are also asking for photos and audio messages (through Google voice). The idea is to use the audio and the photos to make another slideshow/video.
Unannounced is that we’ll be using Pinterest to highlight the photos on their own, then embed those in our site.
We’ll fully profile what we determined to be the best romantic story.
Ivan sent this update yesterday:
Here’s most of what we did in one place at the Daily Freeman (not all of it engagement, but all Valentine’s related).
- We asked our community what attracts them to their loved ones and featured the best responses: 67 hits
- We held a ‘most romantic story’ contest, featured the winner in a story, 2,796 views – Second most read story on Sunday.
- And the runners up on video: 223 plays (most watched video this week so far).
- We also featured the Facebook comments and Google voice calls we received through a Storify.
- Most romantic places, crowdsourced (Storify as well).
York Daily Record
Here are the deets of our Valentine’s Day contest. 20 minutes after posting we received four entries. We are now at 16 and it’s only been a couple of hours!
Pitch to public via Smart blog post and promoted via other blogs, YDR Facebook page, Smart Facebook page, FlipSide Facebook page, YDR Twitter handle, Smart Twitter handle, FlipSide Twitter handle, Sponsorship Facebook pages, YDR Google+ page, print ads, website banners and ads
Let’s face it. Couplehood isn’t easy. Add babies and kids and teens to the mix and you might long for the days when you could sleep in until noon and your only argument with your significant other was over what movie to watch.
So here’s what we’re going to do. We want to take you away. At least for one night.
Tell us in 200 words or fewer why you and your significant other deserve a night away.
Maybe you just had your second child and with a newborn and toddler in tow you need some alone time. (I would.)
Or maybe one of you has battled cancer or another illness and is on the other side. (Deserves a celebration, for sure!)
Whatever your story, we’d like to hear it. Tell us your story here. Deadline for submissions is midnight Feb. 8.
The public will vote on all of the submissions Feb. 9-14 and the top vote-getter will receive a couples retreat from Heritage Hills Golf Club and Resort. The package includes a romantic dinner for two at Ironwoods Restaurant and a standard room at The Inn at Heritage Hills.
When the submission deadline is up Feb. 8, we will then transition into the voting phase of this contest. The public will be able to read the stories and see photos of everyone who submitted. We hope that the contest will go viral at this point because everyone will be getting their friends to vote for them.
They will vote on Smart Facebook page, Smart blog, YDR mobile app and on the following sites:
Again, the voting period will be promoted via other blogs, YDR Facebook page, Smart Facebook page, FlipSide Facebook page, YDR Twitter handle, Smart Twitter handle, FlipSide Twitter handle, Sponsorship Facebook pages, YDR Google+ page, print ads, website banners and ads
We sold this contest to Heritage Hills Golf Club and Resort. It paid us $500 PLUS it put up the prize at no cost to us. So not only do we have sponsorship but have produced revenue as well. YAY!
Digital First to Print
We will repurpose blog post into print as a best-of-blog feature on Super Bowl Sunday, surely a day when there should be robust sales for all the pregame coverage.
When the winner is selected, one of our feature reporters will interview the winning couple for a story to be published in that Sunday’s paper. Of course, this story would be promoted via YDR Facebook page, Smart Facebook page, FlipSide Facebook page, YDR Twitter handle, Smart Twitter handle, FlipSide Twitter handle, Sponsorship Facebook pages and YDR Google+ page.
We plan to surprise the winner at home a la Publisher Clearinghouse style. We will show up at their door with a Valentine’s box of chocolate and our videographer ready to capture this moment. We will share the video across all platforms and promote it with a QR code with the Sunday print story.
Will will pin photos of couples on a Smart Pinterest board and promote.
Kick off Feb. 2
Submission collection Feb. 2-8
Public voting: Feb. 9-14
Notify winner Feb. 15
Our marketing and advertising teams continue to work on secondary prizes (ie. limo ride for winning couple).
This contest was developed through a partnership of several departments: Marketing, Advertising, Editorial, Web team, Smart staff
Buffy sent this update yesterday.
Here are some stats we were able to pull together. Our contest does not end until midnight tonight.
This is of noon Feb. 14, with 12 hours to go on the Couple’s Getaway contest:
On the Smart website:
- As of Feb. 14, we have 6,623 page views on the contest page alone.
- Overall, the Smart website has gotten 13,491, halfway through this month (as of 12:30 p.m. 2/14/12). To compare, we had 13,069 page views for the entire month of January.
- Pinned 38 photos — all the ones with photos submitted
- Board has 34 followers
(I posted a pin of contest sponsor on this board)
Since Jan. 2, we’ve gained 130 fans. (as of 2/14/12)
- First post asking for people to submit information: 92 clicks from the newsletter to post
- Second post for voting: 35 clicks
- Votes To Date: 896 (noon 2/14)
Revenue: Sponsor paid $500 for contest plus supplied the prize package.
We used Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YDR website, Pinterest, blog posts, print stories, print ads, website ads to promote.
Tomorrow, when winner is named, we will reveal via all of the platforms above and a story will appear in print.
ALSO, we asked readers to tell us their best Valentine’s Day memory using our Google Voice account.
We’re asking readers to show us what they love: “Send a picture of something you love … your sweetheart, your child, your puppy, your iPod … you get the picture. Submit your picture at http://bit.ly/nhlovecontest, post it to our Facebook wall, or tweet at us and use the hashtag #nhlove. Pictures must be received by noon Feb. 9. We’ll share the photos in a Facebook album from noon Feb. 9 to noon Feb. 14, and the submitter of the photo that gets the most ‘Likes’ will receive $50 in gift certificates to Ruko’s Family Restaurant, 9385 Mentor Ave., Mentor, and a certificate for an overnight stay in a king size jacuzzi suite at Baymont Inn & Suites, 7581 Auburn
We’ve posted the details on our website, and we’re promoting it in print as well as across social media (Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest). We’ll be looking at our Facebook metrics to measure engagement. Since Thursday, we’ve gotten about 20 submitted photos that range from spouses to children to animals.
We’re also trying to do a companion piece for the anti-Valentine’s Day crowd. We’re asking readers to submit the worst pickup lines they’ve heard, and some theater students at the local community college would act them out to make a video in the Sh*t Girls Say style. We have actors to participate, but we’re not sure yet if the project will be able to come together. We’ll be looking at video view stats to measure engagement and audience reaction.
The update Cheryl sent yesterday:
A quick overview of our project: We asked readers to share a photo of what they loved, through the UPICKEM contest interface on our website, by posting it on Twitter with the hashtag #nhlove, or by posting it on our Facebook wall. We took submissions from Feb. 2 through noon Feb. 9, at which time the submitted photos were turned into a Facebook album. Readers had through noon today to like their favorite photo, and the submitter who got the most Likes received a prize package that included an overnight stay. We got 18 submissions through UPICKEM, 11 through Facebook and none through Twitter, for a total of 27 (Some people submitted through both UPICKEM and Facebook).
From the day we launched the project through today (Feb. 2-14), we got 231 new Likes for our Facebook page. For comparison, the two weeks before that (Jan. 18-Feb. 1), we got 88 new Likes.
Facebook Insights are a few days behind, so I don’t have statistics through today – but I can see the Insights through the day “voting” began. Here are some highlights (I edited the highlights from a table Cheryl sent me):
- Unique users of Facebook page averaged 25.8 daily Jan. 14 through Feb. 8. On Feb 9, the first day of voting, the page got 485 unique users. Weekly uniques went from 159.8 to 646.
- Stories created about the page rose from a daily average of 33 to 697 on Feb. 9 and from a weekly average of 226.3 to 925.
- The number of new people liking the page rose from a daily average of 8.7 to 81 (the table didn’t include a weekly average.
- The number of people who engaged with the page (any click or story created) rose from a daily average of 87.7 to 720 and from a weekly average of 464.6 to 1,011.
- The number of people who have seen any content associated with the page rose from a daily average of 1,314.8 to 2,296 and from a weekly average of 3,118.8 to 4,610.
What I think was most successful about this project – in addition to the increase in Likes on our Facebook page – was the interaction among those who submitted photos and other users. The winning photo (of the submitter’s recently deceased son) had 332 Likes, 28 comments and 28 shares. The photo album we created was filled with supportive, positive conversation among our readers. I hope we can sustain that kind of community on our Facebook page.
What didn’t work was the method of submission. Two users complained that they had posted photos on our Facebook page and we did not include them in our album. After checking our wall multiple times while logged in as different users, I still can’t see the photos they said they posted. I thought sharing photos through Facebook would be easy, but apparently it can be problematic.
Here at The Saratogian, we are hosting a contest for Valentine’s Day in which we are asking readers to tell us about their most romantic moment. Because it is a Twitter-based contest, they must do it in 140 characters. Although we are accepting email and Facebook submissions, entrants are limited to the 140. We are offering a prize of dinner for two. (The ad director hooked us up with some gift certificates for a nice local restaurant.)
The plan is to notify the winner on Friday and get their photo and do a little write-up for the Sunday Life section cover. We’ll also run a bunch of the responses there as part of the package.
Also, we are offering “video valentines” in which readers can record messages to their sweethearts. We are doing this as a “meet us on the street” thing, which we are promoting through the website, Twitter, Facebook and by SMS. So today, for instance, we told everyone if they wanted to make their own video valentine, they could come see us at a certain spot on Broadway from noon to 1 p.m. We’ll do it one more time this week. Then, of course, we’ll promote the heck out of it on all platforms. I’m hoping advertising can get a sponsor for the videos. We’ve got an interesting mix of people who recorded messages so far.
Update: Online Editor Emily Donohue provided this update today:
First, we made video valentines by standing out on the main street in town and flagging people down, giving them the opportunity to record a short video message to their valentines. We got about 18 people and strung them together into a 2ish minute video. The video has gotten 215 views so far, it went live Monday night.
Things we learned: We promoted this in print and online, but we definitely need to step that promotion up if we do it again. I would recommend promoting something like this daily in print and online for at least a week before the filming day/days. We also really should have made some signs to put out on the street corner with us so people would have an idea of what we were doing from afar.
One other success of this project, we got the managing editor’s husband to record a special message which made her cry and earned the newsroom some brownie points.
Here’s the link to the video.
Second, we held a contest that was promoted in print, online and via social media asking people to share their most romantic moment in 140 characters or less. The results were so-so. We got about 20 responses, but almost none of them kept to the character limit. We were able to get advertising involved and scored a $100 gift certificate to a local restaurant for the winners. We crafted all the best entries and some info about the winners into a little story that ran on Valentine’s Day.
So, results were mixed all around, but definitely some lessons learned.
The Oakland Press
Karen Workman, Community Engagement Editor, sent this review of the Oakland Press project yesterday:
I was a little rushed in putting together our Valentine’s Day project — no big prizes or a multi-platform approach like I saw on the awesome project ideas pitched by others— but I am really happy with the outcome.
We asked readers last week, in print and online, to submit their stories of the sweetest thing their sweetheart has ever done for them. Without enough time to put together a prize with our advertising department, I simply pitched it like this:
This Valentine’s Day, The Oakland Press wants to help you pay back your sweetheart by featuring your story in print — consider it a Valentine’s Day keepsake to forever mark your sweetheart’s good intentions.
I received nine emails, five with photos, and one Facebook comment. Some were really sweet. The one that moved me the most (a man wrote about how his wife has been caring for him since surgery left him immobile) became an A-1 story (10 inches with reader submitted pic) promoting more submissions that ran in an additional story on page A-3 (27 inches, 4 reader submitted pics). Please see attached PDFs (Our page designers laid out the stories so beautifully, I’m so proud to carry the byline!).
Online, the two stories were linked to one another (The sweetest thing: Davisburg man honors wife for coping with health crisis and Oakland Press readers submit stories of the sweetest things their sweethearts have done for them). We also uploaded the full text of the longer submissions and linked to those as well. This morning, we shared it on Facebook as our “Happy Valentine’s Day” greeting. The A-1 story is one of our top stories this morning, ranking at 9 with 623 views by 11 a.m. What’s significant about this is that feature stories usually don’t get much traction on the web — the most-read stories are almost always something about sex, crime or controversy. My guess is that the coworkers of the man’s wife, who works at Chrysler, are sharing this around the office today. After all, who doesn’t love sharing a positive story applauding someone they know?
I emailed the links to all the people who submitted their stories to us and got a lot of really nice thank yous. But the best came from the husband who landed the front page spot:
“This couldn’t have been a better surprise. Carolyn surprised me by taking much needed day off. I asked her to get today’s paper from the box on the road but to not look at it until she brought it in. I never expected the front page coverage! We sat together and read the story. She cried. I cried. It was the best Valentine ever. Thanks so much for doing this for us.”
Update: Diane Hoffman, Engagement Editor at the Mercury in Pottstown, Pa., sends this account of her engagement project (too late to add to the poll, but not too late to praise; thanks, Diane! And, if you get enough write-in votes in the comments …):
We had two separate contests, one turned out to be much more popular than the other. The first contest was for couples who were planning on getting engaged. This turned out to be a dud and we only received only one entry. The second contest yielded 10 responses, plus 2 that came in after the deadline.
Here is the Facebook page we set up for voting. The winning story received 127 likes, which is an astonishing number of votes.
If you ran a similar engagement project for your Digital First newsroom and weren’t part of this contest, I’ll apologize that I haven’t yet finished the job of inviting all editors involved with engagement throughout the company to the Google Group where I issued the challenge. Email me (sbuttry (at) journalregister.com) and I’ll invite you to the group. And send me details and links of your project and I’ll add you to this post. I’ll make a point next week of sending out more invites to give all our newsrooms a chance to join that group.
Update: I should have included this report (will add an update when I get one) from Ed Stannard, Engagement Editor at the New Haven Register: We started crowdsourcing for Valentine’s Day stories about blind dates, with promos on Page 1 teasing a story we are running in Friday’s weekend section. The Register Matchmaker team is featuring a prominent area couple who met on a blind date and have been married for 53 years. We are using Valentine’s Day to accomplish two things: crowdsource blind date stories (and try to win the candy) and to build up Matchmaker, which is a really successful feature despite not having a lot of promotion so far. Angi blogged about it and we are promoting it on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll publish the blind date stories we collect on Tuesday. We’ve also requested a splash page for Register Matchmaker, which has to go through the PRD process and we probably won’t have in time.
To stimulate thinking of those planning the Valentine’s project, I shared this Valentine’s engagement project from Slate.
And Austen Smith, Engagement Editor for Heritage Media, shared this Valentine’s project from the Detroit Free Press.
I was pleased that none of our projects (to my knowledge, at least) included anything as funny as this juxtaposition from the Washington Post.