Everyone, meet Ashley!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Journal Register Company and Digital First Media own HUNDREDS of newspaper across the country. The Reporter, here in little old Lansdale, is one of few that we consider in the "Philly Cluster." Other papers include The Times Herald, The Mercury, Souderton Interdependent, Montgomery News and many, many more.

While interaction with the #JRC and #DFM world happens over Twitter, Facebook and email, I thought it's important to meet face-to-face with some of the other people in the industry, especially our sister papers that we interact with so frequently.

Everyone, meet Ashley Campbell. Ashley is the online editor and community engagement editor at The Times Herald in Norristown.

Ashley and I have been chatting back and forth for well over a month now and we thought we would finally sit down and chat about ideas in person.

With both of us being from Lansdale, we met up at a little bistro in town where we were able to chat about work, our roles, our success and what we both need to work on.

For both of us, we totally agree on the fact that photo submissions are a difficult at both our papers, much of which we believe has to do with the readership age range. But we will both continue to press on with using hashtags and email submissions.

The topic of Instagram came up and both Ashley and myself have created Instagram accounts for our newsrooms. Ashley said she sometimes uses her Instagram to show "behind the scene" glimpses at The Times Herald and she has been getting lots of feedback from that. I did the same thing a few weeks ago, posting a photo of our two photographers who were wearing the same outfit. We received SO much interaction on that photo. (I know what you think, 21 likes is nothing, but that is LOTS for a post on The Reporter's FB page.)

I told Ashley how we provided the user name and password to all of our writers/photographers so they can Instagram while they are out at a scene and she told me how a new photographer has been doing a great job of using Instagram. Slowly but surely, the Instagram world is stepping up!

However, when it comes to Instagram, we know the best interaction with the application is going to come from the people who use it the most -- the kiddies.

Ashley is in the works of creating a Instagram themed scavenger hunt for high school kids, with hopes to launch it next spring. She told me about the kids having to take 15-20 pictures of certain objects, use a specific hashtag and the team with the most points wins a prize - first, second and third place winners. Local businesses could become involved allowing their store as a location. I think this idea is absolutely genius!!! After she told me the ideas, I thought we could do the same thing here at The Reporter (with our four main districts) and then after all of the scavenger hunts are done, The Times Herald and The Reporter could have a finals where the first place winners from each school have a championship round. This will be a lot of work, but I think if both papers can pull this out, it would be a awesome tradition for the years to come.

The topic of Pinterest came up, and like The Times Herald and The Mercury, I have created a "Police: Most Wanted" board where we will post the pictures of local fugitives. The Mercury has great success, getting recognized in the national media for increasing arrests in their area because of their board. Way to go team!!!  Our executive editor, Ann Cornell, has reached out to the local police and hopefully this board will kick off soon!

With a few other ideas to bounce off each other, I would say Ashley and I had a nice visit and it was great to finally meet face-to-face. I hope we can get together soon, maybe next time with another community engagement editor in the area. 
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