A "Latest News" post on Poynter earlier this week stated there are 76 newspapers with accounts for Pinterest. A link took me to a spreadsheet listing those papers, as well as links to their Pinterest sites.
GateHouse paper The Herald News is on the list, so naturally I checked out its site. Included there are collections of pictures, which are called boards. The Herald News has 12 boards that show a range of things. On shows daily front pages, another includes editor's choice photos. Favorite recipes are collected in another board. And there's a collection of staff mugs in the Meet the Press board.
Lisa Stratton, editor of the News, says the paper hasn't been on Pinterest long.
"I just got us up and running on Pinterest and I'm pretty excited about it," Stratton said. "We are just in the building stages, but I think there's a TON of potential with this type of social engagement."
Stratton was kind enough to answer a handful of questions for GHNewsroom.com:
What prompted The Herald News to join Pinterest?
Publisher Sean Burke brought it to my attention, and immediately afterward I started noticing it on social media blogs, in tweets, on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet. I have to admit I was initially skeptical, and more than a little overwhelmed with the prospect of learning about yet another social media application. But then I read that Pinterest is giving Facebook a run for its money, particularly in regard to time on site. I decided that merited attention. Still, I was reluctant to jump in and figure it out, but I spent some time with it over the weekend and it turns out it’s a simple interface with abundant possibilities.
What do you hope to get out of Pinterest?
We hope to get several things out of Pinterest, but probably the No. 1 thing is enhanced engagement with our audience. I started out on Pinterest by creating my own account, then extending an invitation (it’s an invite-only, yet far from exclusive, site) to The Herald News. I was approaching it in a somewhat narrow-minded fashion, thinking about what I had to do to get content up on it and beef it up quickly. I started working on it Sunday, and just started jamming everything I could think of onto it, including our picks for Oscar night gowns. I was so focused upon what I had to do to get it cranking, that it wasn’t until I had a discussion about it with Sean on Monday that it resonated with me that the real promise of Pinterest is in the sharing and social engagement. “Pinners” share their ideas across the web, pinning the items that mean the most to them. As such, it’s an ideal platform for engaging readers/users. For instance, as soon as I get a moment, I’m going to put up a “board” inviting pinners to share their weight loss successes with us. We’ve got a “biggest loser” initiative running in our city with a lot of folks participating … what better way to show off their wins (or losses, as it were.) I put up a board the other day, relating to a story about our high school embarking on an anti-litter campaign, and asking residents to share their trashy or tidy streets. Nothing yet, but it’s only been up for a few days.
I see there are 12 “boards” to which the News posts. How do you decide what to post to Pinterest?
Understand that we’re really new at this … less than a week. I started out with categories that I thought might be easy to sustain, such as a photo of the day, and editor’s choice, a front-page gallery and a sneak peek at an upcoming story. But as my thinking evolves on it, as I described in the previous answer, I lean more toward posts that will engage folks, rather than merely inform them. Pinterest can be used for breaking news, if the news has a visual element to it. I’ve heard Pinterest described as a “social visualization platform” or “social media visualization,” or some such thing. It’s important to remember that while you can include links with your pins, it’s really all about the image. Pinterest includes functionality for tweeting and facebooking (although not to fb “pages,” as far as I can tell, only personal “profiles.”) So, I can pin something and tweet it simultaneously. Depending upon whether you pin an existing image on the web or upload your own pin, the interface changes, however, and it seems less than 100 percent reliable. It’s important to remember that women constitute a huge percentage of “pinners,” so it wouldn’t hurt to keep that demographic in mind when pinning.
What best practices do you subscribe to, if any, for Pinterest?
I think that’s a paper that’s yet to be written, or at least I’ve yet to read it. I do know that I’ve got to remember to hash tag items I pin, as Pinterest is a social media application, and SEO is important.
I see there are 11 “pinners” the News follows. How do you decide who to follow?
Primarily those are the pinners the application “suggested” when I signed up. Members are notified when someone follows them and asked to follow in kind. I’m sure we’ll figure out how to become more strategic about it in the future.
I see the News has several followers as well. How do you plan to increase that number?
Again, we’re wicked new at this. But our early attempts have included tweeting our pins, mentioning them on Facebook, externally relating pin “callouts” to stories they relate to and putting a generic Pinterest “callout” on our carousel. I’ve included a Pinterest logo in link in my email sig, and will invite other to do the same. It will likely be a while before our readers/users become socialized to Pinterest.
We’ve got a Home & Garden Show, which we produce, upcoming March 17, and we’re planning to pin content from participants’ websites in advance of the show, as a promotional element. There is a ton of ways that Pinterest can be used as a promotional tool.
We’re in the early stages of thinking about some simple contests geared toward garnering followers. We’re working on a strategic plan for all of our social media efforts, and we will definitely include some more sophisticated attempts at gaining traction and followers on Pinterest.
What kinds of discussions are had in your newsroom about Pinterest?
“What’s that?” has been about the only thing so far. We’ve kept it on the down low until we get a bit more savvy about it.
What advice do you have for other GateHouse papers who are considering joining Pinterest?
Try it; the possibilities are endless.
Thank you, Lisa!
If you would like to read more about newspapers on Pinterest, check out these links:
• Why newspapers should follow Pinterest
• How three big time newspapers are using Pinterest
Joe Greco is corporate design director for GateHouse Media.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.