Why do contests? Contests are fun. The audience loves tosee something they did in print. Contests drive traffic. They encourage the readers to interactwith the newspaper, showing readers thatwe are here and a part of this community. They drive new readers and build ouraudience.Jessica Benes, Reporter-Herald
What kind of contest? Contests associated with holidays(Christmas, Valentine’s, Mother’sDay, Halloween). Events (festivals, parades, trivia bowl). Weather (snow, first day of summer). Biggest fan or school spirit. Best community stories (Ghoststories, Veteran’s stories).Jessica Benes, Reporter-Herald
What types of platforms/socialmedia? Videos Photos Written stories Google forms Print newspaperFacebook Twitter BlogsPinterestInstagramStorify TimelinesJessica Benes, Reporter-Herald
How do we handle prizes? Arrange prizes with a participating event orvenue (free tickets or passes to an event). Use the tantalizing idea of the best photomaking it into print. Post the photos in a Facebook album, onPinterest and in a slide show on yourwebsite as the prize. Occasionally dip into the budget for agift card (but that depends on the newspaperand budget).Jessica Benes, Reporter-Herald
Valentine’s Day Project Call-out for“Loveland’s greatestlove stories” online andinprint, Facebook, Twitter,Pinterest. 13 submissionsreceived. Timeline ofsubmissions designed. Top five chosen byReporter-Herald staff.Reporter-Herald projects:Jessica Benes, Reporter-Herald
Valentine’s Day cont’d:Reporter-Herald projects:Jessica Benes, Reporter-Herald Top five put to a vote by the community for one week. First place entry interviewed for a Valentine’s Day featurestory.
Easter We asked for egg decorating “egg-sperts” to be partof a feature. We used how-to videos of those submissions to askthe community to submit their best-decorated eggs for aFacebook album, slide show, and to run in our News:By You section.Reporter-Herald projects:Jessica Benes, Reporter-Herald
Photo curation Quick hitters like curating for photos seems to often performbetter than longer contest projects. We usually ask for photos and place them in a Facebookalbum and slide show on our website. We have a vote for thebest shots and print the top couple in our News: By You sectionof the paper. Halloween Snow photos Easter eggsReporter-Herald projects:Jessica Benes, Reporter-Herald
Our thoughts on what has worked: Our community likes to participate when they don’t have toput in a lot of work. Submitting photos. Participating in polls. Big prizes are noticed, as are the promises of a child’s photogetting in the paper. Contests around big events/topics of the day like snowstorms or summer festivals.Jessica Benes, Reporter-HeraldAnd what hasn’t:Trivia Bowl: Asked readers to call in with answers to eight triviaquestions for the chance to win a free entry to participate in theTrivia Bowl. – No calls. Might have been too small of an audience. Too much work, not a big enough topic.Lifetree Film Fest: Asked to submit 3-minute films for a minifilm festival in conjunction with Group Publishing Lifetree FilmFest. We received three entries. Perhaps not enough time (we gave them 2.5 weeks). Not a big enough topic.
Tips from other newspapers: Peeps dioramas are a big hit. Reader’s Choice: Unlimited voting or not? You might end upputting something in the paper that isn’t great but had a lot offriends. Sex sells. We didnt get a tons of entries in our tax seasonSexy Accountant contest, but tens of thousands clicked to seewhat sexy accountants look like. During National Poetry Month a few years ago, we sponsoreda limerick contest; we got lots of entries, but most werebadly rhymed couplets that werent even limericks.-- Richard Chin, St. Paul Pioneer Press.Jessica Benes, Reporter-Herald
Tips from other newspapers: Better response when we offer less of readers and offerbigger prizes. Giveaways do well like commenting on a post with a favoritebeer or wine to win passes to related events. Built up buzz about “Restaurant week,” where people could“like” the event on Facebook to enter to win. A $400 prize wasannounced during a “happy hour event” to kick off the week(advertise-driven).-- April Trotter, York Daily Record, Pennsylvania.Jessica Benes, Reporter-Herald
Brainstorm What has worked for you? What are your ideas?Jessica Benes, Reporter-HeraldJessica Benes Reporter-Herald, 970-669-5050 ext.530. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @JessicaBenesFacebook, Pinterest: Jessica Benes Blog: jessicabenes.com