YDR Insider

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Community engagement key goal in initiatives that scored YDR statewide award

Our news organization’s campaign to wrap the personalities of two journalists around social media and community news initiatives formed the heart of our entry for Pennsylvania Newspaper Association’s Readership Initiative Award for 2011. The YDR/YSN has scored first or second places since the award was introduced six years ago.

I had the honor of accepting PNA’s Readership Initiative Award at the recent publisher’s convention, where we also had the honor of bringing home Newspaper of the Year and Public Service plaques.

In my acceptance speech, adapted for YDR Insider, I played on the theme that news organizations no longer push out information to readers but strive to engage them, well, in conversation:

The initiatives that achieve this honor here today grew out of plain downright weariness.

Some of us just were tired of TV News and other media branding their personalities with particular topics:

So we turned weariness into action. We asked two of our editors to wrap their personalities around our hyperlocal and social media efforts.

So we marketed hyperlocal guru Joan Concilio as the expert on York County, which, of course, she is. One vehicle was an “Ask Joan” feature in which she fields questions from readers about life in York County.

She shares these questions on her blog, Only in York County, and readers help provide answers. This interaction and exchange of information has led to a vibrant online community.

We believe we’re outpatching Patch (a national community news initiative), with this move.

And there’s a second branding initiative that resulted in this honor:

Buffy Andrews heads our social media efforts and uses Twitter, Facebook and her blog, Buffy’s World, to help readers navigate the digital landscape and explore our various online initiatives. By delving into Buffy’s World:

1) Readers feel they have a personal friend who takes the time to show them in a fun way these new platforms and why they might want to join the conversation.

2) Readers and advertisers learn about opportunities to share information they might not have realized before.

3) The newspaper has a passionate promoter of its content across all platforms.

I don’t know how many times I’ve asked Buffy: Can you socialize something I wrote?

It is through these campaigns that we have grown new and younger readership, engaged existing readers and found ways to reach non-traditional readers.

So we’ve deployed branding strategies of competitors to get there first in two coveted area today – community news and social media.

Also of interest

Please see other major honors awarded to our news organization on YDR Insider’s Awards Page.