How we cultivated interest in and collaboration for a community engagement program for a local newspaper
It takes more than an email to generate excitement and retention
Our partnership with Media in Color and the San Fernando Valley Sun continues to make progress on building a new community engagement model for local news.
Our model is developing a framework for collaboration between invested Valley community members and the Sun to reinvent how high school sports are covered in the Valley area.
Previously, we discussed our efforts to organize and prepare for creating a community reporter contact list.
We are currently working on cultivating interest in our new program. Our first step was sending out our community contributor interest survey. The survey not only gauged the community’s interest in high school sports coverage in the Sun, but also tracked interest in becoming a community contributor. Check out our community contributor survey template here.
We asked questions that allowed individuals to more thoroughly discuss their current relationship with the Sun and provide the Sun with any relevant information.
How we did it
Initially, the survey was sent out via email. We began by first contacting athletic directors in our two high school athletic leagues of interest. We started with a limited sample to ensure the quality of the survey, before moving on to school communities and the general population.
In the first round, the survey yielded a 28% response rate among athletic directors. Those who responded were geographically closest to the Sun’s headquarters, and all of those who responded to our survey expressed interest in participating in the community contributor program. We began importing these contacts into AirTable.
We strengthened our efforts after the first round by contacting school journalism programs in the area. We decided to split up the contacts among our team and begin calling athletic directors. We also called those who did respond to the survey to further deepen those relationships.
We’re hoping to create a robust community contributor contact list that includes not only athletic directors, but also coaches, parents and interested journalism students. Specifically, we want to have at least one contact per school, so we can begin testing out our process in time for the fall launch.
We are also offering to create team pages for each schools where we will publish information about where their seniors sign for college. We believe this information will not only provide the programs with additional coverage, but also provide the community with more detailed information about their local sports.
Our next steps will involve testing out the automated SMS system and online forms, as well as building out the web pages that will host the information.