March Engagement Madness started a week ago with four first-round matchups.
The Morning Sun’s March Pet Madness had the strongest first-round performance, blowing away the Roving O’Herald project of the News-Herald, 74-34 in the Great Lakes Region. Roving O’Herald goes home with its head held high (note the deft use of sports clichés), though, winning more votes than two of our first-round winners.
Another first-round loser that outpolled two winners was the Los Angeles News Group’s Beer Bracket, which got a respectable 36 votes but still lost 44-36 in the West Region to the Bay Area News Group’s Peeps contest.
The closest contest was in the East Region, where both projects were entered by the York Daily Record. The Remember series beat another Peeps contest, 31-28.
In the Central Region, the Loveland Herald’s Easter Egg Hunt project beat the Pioneer Press’ Sexy Accountant project in a defensive struggle, 25-11.
In the next round, we have the East and Great Lakes winners facing off (a rematch of the top two entries in last year’s Valentine engagement contest) and the Central and West regions in a David-vs.-Goliath match between a small community daily and a regional engagement project:
Vote for your favorite entry in each semi-final. I originally planned to allow a week for voting in each round. But nearly all the votes come on the first day and we should wrap this up in March. So I’ll update Thursday with the championship matchup and will name the champion Friday afternoon.
Pets vs. Memories
York Remember Series
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.
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.’
Easter Eggs vs. Peeps
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. Frankenstein’s lab to a fire rescue and election-themed diorama.