We have eight Digital First Media projects competing in March Engagement Madness.
I asked newsrooms to enter projects seeking community engagement around the NCAA basketball tournament, the start of spring, religious holidays or other promotions going on now. I wish we had 64 projects to play off in a full bracket, but we’ll play it out with eight. As with our Valentine’s engagement contests, the winning newsroom will be paid off in candy.
I edited some of the entries to change tenses because some entered before contests that have now started or even concluded. Each of the four contests has a poll. Vote for your favorite entry in each region. Next week, I’ll update with the four winners and the following week we’ll play off the top two.
We have two projects from the York Daily Record (winner of last year’s Valentine engagement contest). While I considered putting them in different brackets for a potential matchup for the championship, I want to keep as many newsrooms as possible engaged with the voting here as long as we can. Also, the eight entries group pretty well geographically. So Round One is York vs. York:
April Trotter of the York Daily Record explains:
It wouldn’t be springtime without those addictive marshmallow Peeps.
The sugary sweets hit the market 60 years ago — in 1953. Just Born Inc., the candy company that produces Peeps, quickly cornered the market for marshmallow treats.
About six years ago, the York Daily Record/Sunday News started asking readers to use their creativity to turn the candy into art. Through the years, we’ve received dozens of photos of Peeps projects that have covered sports, religion, politics, pop culture and just about everything in between.
The tradition continues this spring.
The top three vote-getters in each category will win prize packs provided by Just Born’s Peeps and Company.
Photos of winners and other submissions will run in the March 31 edition of the York Sunday News. Submissions will also be displayed on a Smart magazine Pinterest board.
The contest and push for entries were promoted on Smart magazine, FlipSidePA and YDR Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts.
Buffy Andrews explains this project:
Our Remember series engages the community by asking readers to share memories of the past. Our topics have included everything from remembering World War II and S&H Greenstamps to Woodstock and TMI. We have done about 50 of these so far and our readers love it.
We ask readers to call a designated phone line and share their memory. We upload these audio files and share them with our readers online. Some of them are transcribed for print.
We then choose one person to interview for a story and shoot a video of that person to go along with the story. We also maintain a Remember series Pinterest board in which we pin an image from the story. The pin back links to the story online. Some readers have found the story via Pinterest. And we developed a Remember New Hive page.
We promote via all social media channels and find opportunities to get the stories back in front of our readers when it makes sense (ie. Remembering Blizzard of 1996 during a snowstorm, etc.)
When I started this project several years ago, I wanted to capture local oral histories and create an online repository. I felt like so much was being lost as the older generation passed away — memories of World War II or what it was like during the Depression, for example. I think it’s up to us to capture their oral histories and memories and preserve them for generations to come.
I proud of this project and what we have accomplished. And I’m grateful to my staffers who shared my vision from the beginning and have worked hard to build this valuable resource. Now, when students go looking for local history, this is one place they can check.
I’m always amazed at what we discover. For example, in March’s Watergate remember story that came out Sunday, we discovered something that Nixon did that I’m sure few, if any, knew about. What? You’ll have to read the story.
Great Lakes Region
March Pet Madness
Holly Mahaffey of the Morning Sun explains:
Our overall plan is to do a March Madness-style bracket where readers submit photos and information about their pets, and we hold voting on each round to narrow down the bracket. The idea is for it to be a cute pet vs. pet competition where readers will vote who should move on based on cuteness, pet skills, things like that. Voting will take place through our Facebook page.
Our goals are to engage our readers in something fun and lighthearted, to increase our Pinterest following, bring additional exposure to our other social media accounts and to drive traffic to the website.
We solicited photos through social media and email, and got 64 submissions to fill out the brackets. We also made a Pinterest board with baseball card-style profiles of each pet so we can get some more eyeballs on our Pinterest page.
When we near the end of the project we plan to do a feature story about the final two pets and their owners, written sports-style, to encourage more of a frenzy of voting for the final ‘game.’
— Roving O’Herald (@RovingOHerald) March 15, 2013
Cheryl Sadler of the News-Herald explains:
Last year, we published an image of an Irish newspaper character in the paper, and asked readers to take photos of “Roving O’Herald” in different locations. One reader created his own wooden version of Roving O’Herald and gave him to us, so I developed a contest this year based on the “real-life” Roving O’Herald.
Our staff photographers took the wooden Roving O’Herald to different landmarks in our coverage area and photographed him. I made a game board of a map of the two counties, and placed blank rectangles on the map where the photos were taken. The map was published on Feb. 22, and for the following 12 days, the photos of O’Herald were published. Readers had to cut out the photos and place them on the map in the correct locations, then submit their completed maps to The News-Herald.
We accepted entries through March 14. I’ll randomly pick a winner from all of the correct entries. The correct map was published March 17, as well as the winner’s name. The prize is deluxe overnight accommodations with breakfast for for two at a local hotel.
Roving O’Herald has his own Twitter account (@RovingOHerald), where he posts photos and clues for the contest. I also created a Facebook photo album to give clues. In hindsight, I wish I would have done more with promoting the Twitter account before the contest started so I could have really done a lot more on there. There’s always next year!
Sexy Accountant Contest
Wanted: Sexy Accountants. The St. Paul Pioneer Press is seeking nominations for its Sexy Accountant Contest. Email email@example.com.
— Richard Chin (@rrchin) February 7, 2013
Richard Chin of the Pioneer Press explains:
Originally spread by what one blogger called “the greatest crowdsourcing tweet of all time,” the St. Paul Pioneer Press Sexy Accountant Contest is seeking nominations for the hottest bean counter in the land, with winners being announced by Tax Day.
The contest was retweeted and picked up by accounting blogs and we’ve been getting entries of both male and female CPAs, including a belly dancing accountant, an accountant who also works as a model and an accountant who was a former beauty queen.
Minnesota’s Pioneer Press Celebrates Tax Day With a Sexy Accountant Contest ow.ly/iYSXF
— Dan Livengood CPA (@DanTheCPA) March 15, 2013
Easter Egg Hunt
Jessica Benes of the Reporter-Herald explains:
We don’t want to be cliche and use words like “egg-stravaganza” and “egg-straordinary,” but the Loveland Reporter-Herald is hosting an egg-stra cool hunt for the prettiest eggs in time for Easter.
Our project will be in a couple of stages. We’re crowdsourcing through Facebook, Twitter and our website for egg decorators willing to give us tutorials on how to decorate awesome eggs. We invited the community to submit their photos of best decorated eggs to us by March 24, which will be placed in an ongoing slideshow and album on Facebook and Pinterest.
We will put those photos in an online poll March 24-27 to find the reader’s choice. We will interview the owner of that reader’s choice photo as well as four other unique eggs to feature in an Easter Sunday story of best eggs in Loveland.
“Peeps Blanket Babylon” by Dora Grinnell of San Jose, Calif.
Ann Tatko-Peterson explains (and yes, we do have the possibility of Peeps vs. Peeps for the championship):
Love them or hate them, Peeps are everywhere during the spring.
So as part of an annual contest, we ask readers to build dioramas using Peeps and submit photos of their creations. Three winning dioramas are featured in print; photos of the others make up an online slideshow.
Entries show each year how imaginative readers are — from a pirate ship and Dr. Frakenstein’s lab to a fire rescue and election-themed diorama.
The project is a bracket and vote on the best beers to drink for St. Patrick’s Day. Each round of the bracket has a vote between each seed. We voted and moved up winners until a champion was crowned on St. Patty’s Day. (We chose the beers and seeding based on U.S. beer sales and Irish tradition). (Buttry note: Daniel wrote this before the contest without naming the winner. The runaway winner was that Irish favorite Guinness Draught.)
We are also using this as an opportunity to promote a new blog Beer Goggles that we are doing on the beer culture in Los Angeles.
I was inspired by the Trentonian’s bar bracket last year. Because of the sprawling nature of LANG (the group runs through three counties in Southern California) it is hard to do something like a local bar bracket because it would either be too broad or we would have to do a separate one for each property and that would strain our resources. So I went with something more generic. Plus, as I mentioned, it tied into our new blog, which we have wanted to do some promotion for since its inception.
One part I like about doing a bracket for a voting engagement tool is it asks users to return. You don’t vote once and wait, you vote and watch to see if your favorites make it to the next round and then come back and vote again, and so on. It becomes a week-long engagement rather than a day or two. Then, when it is all over, there is still debate to be had over the winner.