1) Using social media as a source of missing person information in Connecticut
Connecticut Group Editor Matt DeRienzo developed the idea for the page, while NHR Investigations Editor Michelle Tuccitto is the main administrator. Managing Editor Mark Brackenbury posted missing persons photos across the top of the Facebook page and began liking similar pages to help find new audience.
Tuccitto said the page was “pretty basic at first” with merely links to stories about missing persons. Now, family members of missing persons -- such as the mother of Billy Smolinski -- post frequently. Tuccitto hopes the page eventually becomes a tool to help solve the cases. Do you have a local issue that would support a separate Facebook page that might draw in community like this one?
2) Using a high school sports blog to inform, interact
Since the first post of his On Prep Sports blog in April 2006, San Gabriel Valley Tribune prep sports editor Fred Robledo said he has tried to make his blog the home for all local high school sports. To do that, he's used all the right tactics to build a blog audience: He posts frequently. He provides real-time updates. He continually interacts with readers. He links to interesting related content on other sites. And, when appropriate, he offers his own opinions.
Robledo also embeds photos, videos, polls, CoverItLive chats, Twitter feeds and more. A moderator keeps an eye on the live chat feeds and several correspondents contribute to the blog. Robledo has nearly 1,000 Twitter followers and will soon be creating a SGVT prep sports Facebook page. His videos routinely get between 500 and 1,000 views. Some blog threads have reached 500 comments. In short, he's fulfilled the mission he set out on in 2006.
Robledo’s tip: Identify your audience and cater to it. Be active with the audience – “there is no other [prep] blog that has as much reader involvement," he said. "That's what separates us from the rest.”
3) Making ths most of a community contest at TwinCities.com / St. Paul Pioneer Press
For the past 60 years of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, the Pioneer Press has run a Treasure Hunt. By the thousands, treasure hunters tramp through public parks in search of a medallion worth up to $10,000 in cash. Day by day, cryptic clues in the newspaper and on TwinCities.com have lead people toward the medallion. Hunt traditions have been handed down through the generations and a documentary film has been produced about the hunt.
In 2011, Pioneer Press editor Mike Burbach said Treasure Hunt traffic hit a new high of 1.9 million page views, which contributed to a record-smashing 16 million page views for twincities.com for the month. This was no accident. New digital components made the difference. For example, this year saw the addition of daily videos, a Treasure Hunt Facebook page and a scrambled version of the clue that was featured exclusively online. Hunters could also participate in a UPickem contest and online forums, plus could access hunt-related content via a widget on the home page and temporary channels to mobile sites and apps.
For anyone considering starting such a contest, the Pioneer Press has the following tips:
- Hide the treasure well in advance of the hunt.
- Location and clue security must be taken VERY seriously.
- Be sure the rules are locked down and lawyered.
- Don’t be shy about covering it as a big news event
- Have fun and engage the audience.