We all want our journalism to have impact. Well, here’s impact for you: the Wanted by Police Pinboard launched by the Pottstown Mercury’s Brandie Kessler is resulting in arrests.
In a recent Mercury story, Pottstown Police Capt. F. Richard Drumheller said arrests were up 58 percent since the Mercury started publicizing mug shots of people with outstanding warrants.
Brandie explained in a lightly edited email how the Merc is using Pinterest like a post office bulletin board:
When Mandy Jenkins stopped by The Mercury a few months ago and told us a bit about various new social media, myself and reporter Evan Brandt thought Pinterest, because of its photo-focus, would be perfect for a wanted by police list.
I had put a list together in a slideshow on our website long before the Pinterest board, but the slideshow kept freezing or not working and it was difficult to update and difficult to highlight on Facebook and Twitter.
I decided to create a list on Pinterest. It’s great because it’s easy to update, easy to view on a smartphone and you don’t even need a Pinterest account to view it. Plus, it’s simple to post the link on Facebook and Twitter, and our readers love it.
Police departments have told me they have made many arrests as a direct result of the Pinterest board, which is pretty awesome.
Here’s what Brandie told area police chiefs in asking them to send fugitives’ photos for use on the Pinboard:
Pinterest is a sort of digital corkboard and is among the fastest growing social media sites in the world. Many of its users use Pinterest to post or “pin” recipes, craft ideas and other things which they can easily organize using the site. However, we’ve found it’s also a great way to display mug shots.
Pottstown police department has a public list of persons wanted by their department for a variety of offenses. I created a board using a collection of mug shots of Pottstown’s wanted persons along with a snapshot of what each individual is wanted for. I then posted that “board” to our Facebook page, where more than 6,600 (Buttry note: That number is now more than 7,000) of our readers are able to view it regardless of whether they have their own Pinterest log in.
Community Engagement Editor Diane Hoffman demurred to Brandie when I asked questions about this, but I’m pretty sure one of the reasons this works so well is that Diane has built a strong following for the Merc’s Pinterest account, with nearly 800 followers. Diane is one of Digital First Media’s Pinterest rock stars, generating strong engagement with Pinboards about topics such as pets, graduation, prom and brides. That sizable audience clearly set the stage for the fugitive pins to work effectively.
Beyond the social nature of Pinterest, Mercury Editor Nancy March explained why the Pinboard approach is effective:
We initially had this Most Wanted list as a photo gallery on website but one of advantages of Pinterest board is the view on mobile devices. Far surpasses what reader sees on our site.
Nancy has shared the idea with other Digital First editors in Pennsylvania. She reports that colleagues at the Times Herald in Norristown and the Daily Local News in West Chester are planning to start similar Pinboards. When we get several of the local Pinboards going, we’ll create a “regional Most Wanted list” that the mug shots will be repinned to, Nancy said.
Brandie noted multiple levels on which the mug shots help police, the community and the police reporter:
As a police reporter with The Mercury for the past 6 years, I often find myself asking the police to help me. This board allows me to help the police, which really improves the working relationship I have with them.
It’s also great to give the public an opportunity to help improve the quality of life in their community. One thing I hear from the local police chiefs is there are only X amount of police officers on their respective forces, and they would love the community’s help in being more efficient. This board facilitates that. It’s also wonderfully interactive.
Earlier posts about Digital First journalists at work:
Asking people to share memories: always a good idea on an anniversary
GatheringPoint and Geofeedia help you find social media by location
Denver Post staffers’ #theatershooting coverage demonstrates Twitter breaking news techniques
Geofeedia, slideshows, cleaning up and a snake
‘American Homecomings’ tells veterans’ stories nationwide
York Daily Record quiz helps voters pick candidates reflecting their views
York Daily Record’s ‘Finding Their Way Out’: an old-school digital journalism project
Trentonian’s best-bar tourndy heightens March Madness engagement
Coverage of deadly fire shows Daily Mail’s Digital First progress
What does an engagement editor do? Digital First editors answer
Michigan tornado coverage shows off Heritage journalists’ digital skills
Oakland Press collects community photos of children with a statue
Troy Record’s breaking news coverage drives Facebook discussion
An engaged reporter: no longer ‘just a fly on the wall’
Pottstown Mercury engages bloggers in community food drive
Facebook engagement tips: Use breaking news photos and calls to action
Jeff Edelstein uses Klout to reach people interested in his content
Valentine’s Day: a perfect opportunity for community engagement
Community internships: Oakland Press helps bloggers develop skills
Google+ Hangout helps with video interviews
Banjo app helped Andy Stettler find local tweets
Lisa Fernandez shares a crowdsourcing (or fetching) lesson
Buffy Andrews’ tips for daily beat checks using HootSuite
Larry Altman’s account of live-tweeting a breaking news story
Examples of live-tweeting government meetings
A first try at live-tweeting from the courtroom
Romeo and Juliet on Facebook: great fun and community engagement
San Pedro landslide shows power of social media
Reach out through Facebook to gather information on tragic stories
Engagement opportunities: weather, elections, sports, school fun
Denver Post social media use delivers on mountain lion vs. kitty story
Opening our Journal Register newsrooms to the community
Include staff members’ usernames in tweets promoting your content
Crowdsourcing Hurricane Irene recovery map in Connecticut
JRC journalists use social media to cover earthquake and hurricane
Trentonian uses Google+ and other tools to cover apartment shooting
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