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Update: The runaway winner for the best Digital First Valentine’s engagement project is the Saratogian, with The Crazy Things We Do for Love. The Saratogian won 365 votes out of 750 votes cast, or 49 percent, a landslide in a 10-way race. A box of Valentine’s candy will be shipped out today to the new (and obviously successful engagement editor Aubree Cutkomp for the newsroom to share.

A second-place box will go out to the Reporter-Herald, which got 133 votes or 18 percent. Defending champion Smart magazine in York, Pa., got 78 votes, just over 10 percent. Thanks to all the newsrooms who participated, and congratulations on lots of successful engagement. Scroll down to read about the winning projects and the rest.

Here’s the original post: As lovers prepare to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Digital First newsrooms are engaging their communities in romance and fun.

Last year, I sent off boxes of Valentine’s candy to the York Daily Record and the Morning  Sun to reward their Valentine’s engagement, voted the best by readers of my blog. I was probably going to let the holiday slide by without note here, but Jessica Benes of the Reporter-Herald in Loveland, Colo., asked if I was going to reprise the contest. So I asked my colleagues to send me their accounts of what they were doing. I’ll let them make their pitches here (in the order submitted, with light editing).

After you’ve read them, please scroll back up here to vote. Again, the winning newsroom gets a Priority Mail box stuffed with Valentine’s candy.

It’s too late for you to compete for the candy if you’re not listed here, but it’s probably not too late to steal one of these ideas (give credit, please, as Jennifer Connor did in the final entry here) for some Valentine’s fun this week.

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I need to correct a correction about whether and how news brands are allowed to post Associated Press photos on Facebook: You can’t.

My post last month about effective Facebook engagement originally said that you couldn’t post AP photos on Facebook. I should have nailed this down at the time and linked to a source, but I didn’t. This was something I had heard a few different times from different sources and I just mentioned it as a fact from my personal knowledge, but didn’t verify, as I should have.

Someone (I can’t recall who) challenged that in questioning in a webinar, so I checked with Tim Rasmussen, assistant managing editor of photography at the Denver Post, whom I considered our most knowledgeable person at Digital First Media on photography matters. Tim sent me this correction, (lightly edited) which I added to the blog:

If you have the rights to AP images you can use them on Facebook and Pinterest to promote your content. Always check the special instructions and to be safe use only their staff or STR images. But you can do it. You cannot publish any Getty images to external source, but if you do a Facebook update that pulls in a Getty image as a thumbnail, that is OK though.

At a subsequent webinar, Annette Arrigucci, Home Page Editor for the El Paso Times, said she had understood from the AP that we couldn’t use AP photos in social media.

I asked Tim to clarify, and Annette sent this email from Dale Leach, AP Regional Director — Central:

While the policy on social media is evolving, here is the relevant section from our current policy manual:

Promotional uses:

1. If the third-party entity makes claims to the content, i.e. Facebook or Twitter, then use is limited to linking back to a customer site — headline, summary and thumbnail.

2. Aggregation/ Social Networking News Feeds are limited to:

a. News story headlines up to 15 words. Use of summaries may be negotiated and would be no more than up to 30 words (each headline and summary together comprising a “Headline”).

b. Photos can be no more than one low resolution Image per headline. “Thumbnail” versions of such Images may not be displayed at dimensions greater than 1.8 inches by 1.2 inches, resolutions greater than 130 pixels by 84 pixels, and at files sizes greater than 50 kilobytes.

3. Social Networking News Feeds must include a hyperlink back to the full text of a corresponding AP news story on member’s mobile application.

Tim doublechecked with AP and confirmed the policy was as Dale stated:

I was misinformed of AP policy. I had been told by New York that we can use their images on FB, but that policy since has changed.

I asked Dale if it was OK to quote the email in my blog and he asked me to hold off until he could check again with AP headquarters in New York: “My information is barely a month old, but this as you might expect is evolving.”

Hurricane Sandy understandably caused some delays in Dale getting a response from New York. Dale replied Saturday with more clarification:

1) We do not allow posting of AP photos on Pinterest. They do not recognize our copyright. You can find AP images on Pinterest, but that is without AP permission.

2) On Facebook, current policy says photos can be used but only as thumbnails and must link back to the member site.

3) We are indeed working on more specific guidelines on photos, given the many uses members or customers have asked us about. We’ll be happy to share those with you when they are available.

So that’s the triple-checked, clarified, verified AP policy: Don’t post AP photos on Facebook, except the thumbnails that Facebook pulls in when you post a link in a status update.

If that changes, I’ll update. But for now, newsrooms should not post AP photos on Facebook or Pinterest.

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Brandie Kessler

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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I’ve written recently about my own use of Pinterest and about how journalists and newsrooms can use Pinterest.

Now I want to share links to helpful things that others have written about Pinterest. I don’t pretend that it’s complete, just my bibliography of how I’ve learned about Pinterest.

Journalists discussing how to use Pinterest:

How to use Pinterest to enhance your articles by Ivan Lajara

Yes, even The Salt Lake Tribune is on Pinterest by Kim McDaniel

Readers Create a Pinterest Spring Garden/How we did it by Deborah Petersen

York Daily Record expanding its digital footprint via Pinterest, Facebook, blogs and more by Buffy Andrews (more…)

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As Pinterest grows in use, it grows in value to journalists and news organizations.

I don’t pretend that I know all the ways that journalists should use Pinterest. My Digital First Media colleagues and I are discussing and experimenting with this now and many of them are well ahead of me. But I’ve spent the past few months learning, studying and gathering tips and examples from colleagues, which I’ll share here.

Primarily, I would say that news organizations definitely should explore the possibilities of engaging through a social tool that’s growing as fast as Pinterest. Some of your efforts will generate strong engagement and some will fall flat. But when people are spending as much time with a social tool as they do with Pinterest, you should seek to have them spend some of that time with you.

At least for now, Pinterest seems to be most valuable relating to lifestyle coverage, contests, community information and events and photography. I haven’t seen any indication that it’s useful in breaking news coverage (though that could change, or you might have some examples to show how it’s already being used).

Here are ways that I suggest journalists and news organizations consider using Pinterest: (more…)

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I learned a long time ago that digital entrepreneurs don’t succeed by developing tools I understand immediately. So I wasn’t worried last summer when I first created a Pinterest account but couldn’t figure out why I would use it.

If it was going to become an important social tool, I’d learn by watching how smarter people used it. And I am.

I knew something was happening with Pinterest late last year when people in my social networks (and some people I’d never heard of) started following my pinboards (which at the time meant they were following nothing). I started seeing some Pinterest chatter on social media and in blogs.

Adam Burnham, senior vice president for local digital sales at Digital First Media, asked me early this year what I knew about Pinterest. I told him I didn’t know much but had noticed the growing use of it and chatter about it. A Google search found some articles that gave me some quick background.

If you haven’t been prompted yet to figure out Pinterest, here’s a quick explanation: It’s kind of a social media scrapbook of online images. When a photo or other image on the Internet catches your eye, you “pin” the image, saving it (with a link and whatever text you add) to a “pinboard” of related images.

An interesting factor in Pinterest use I noticed in reading about it was that women were using it more than men by about a 4-to-1 margin. I queried and checked out some colleagues about their Pinterest use and saw a similar gender gap. The most active users were female colleagues: Buffy Andrews, Mandy Jenkins, Cheryl Sadler, Lisa Jonaitis, Maryanne MacLeod, Helen Bennett and Jen Westpfahl. (Ivan Lajara was the outlier, a guy who’s using Pinterest actively and well. Daniel Finney, a friend at the Des Moines Register, is another outlier.) (more…)

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