Will McGuinness, product manager for the Herald News in Fall River, Mass., and the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass., is experimenting with community engagement launched off of and layered on top of the Community Partner Journalism elements they are working with, by incorporating them into a larger Community page on their websites.
|What exactly are you doing with your community partner journalsim?||
Our online community section has been evolving for months. Initially, it housed a SeeClickFix map with community-generated blogs featured under it. Subsequently , we’ve adjusted it to be our go-to resource for interaction with our online and print products.
Now, readers can report non-emergency civic issues on our interactive mapping feature, catch up on community briefs like scholarship announcements and winners, and contribute directly to our content through reader photo callouts (housed on a connected UGC photo special section) or HTML forms that help feed our Community Partner Journalism content.
|Why did you decide to do this?||
There were always many access points for readers to interact with us through letters emails, callout pages, contact us pages, article comments, etc. Community collects these (streamlining navigation), trains visitors on the most effective ways to communicate with us and increases the ease with which readers can interact with one another as article providers. By presenting UGC opportunities online and presenting them beautifully in print and prominently in our online content, we’re positioning ourselves as highly inclusive to reader input. Further, branding this content across all platforms shows that we’re prizing this content and the relationship we’re building with them.
|How has the community responded?||
Analytics show that the community landing page is attractive to visitors and consistently lands in the top 20 web pages in traffic each month, and that’s without promoting it much socially. Because it’s changed so much since the fall, it’s encouraging to see that visitors have committed to follow along with its evolution and root it on with increased traffic.
Regarding its use to crowdsource CPJ response, it’s proving highly effective especially within the business community and education. As an experiment, we also used the HTML form formats on Community to enrich and enliven our Letters to the Editor participation. So far, providing one link with one step to submit has proved popular with readers who want to weigh in beyond a comment but consider the User Interface and navigation of emailing a letter to the editor too cumbersome.
I’m hoping for another jump in traffic and interaction this month as we continue our relatively new practice of promoting Community content to the homepage carousel and including linked branding within the short story to these forms. Where appropriate, we’ll also start hyperlinking callouts logically within stories