Across the country, news media organizations are fighting for survival in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and many publishers are looking to their communities for support. The Delta Optimist (B.C.), a Glacier Media newspaper, came up with an innovative campaign called Make Your Mark on History to recognize and reward local supporters, readers and advertisers.
The campaign objective was to send out a call to the community for contributions to help the paper get through COVID-19. House ads with different messaging ran through the month of April 2020, in addition to supporting editorial coverage.
Publisher Matt Blair noted “we were very selective about placement as we know different people interact with our paper for different reasons”. The ads ran once on the back page, once as a right hand page facing the flyers and once as a message on the front page.
“All individual readers who contribute to the on ongoing legacy of community news in South Delta will be honoured with their names published on the front page of The Optimist on May 7th. Your contribution, however large or small, will enable us to continue delivering reliable and credible news to you – our friends, our family and our neighbours. This newspaper will become a permanent record of our community standing together, as we always have.”
Blair reinforced that it was vital that readers were provided with a way to contribute via traditional mail or phone, not just online. Given the higher average age of contributors, it was not surprising that well over half of contributions came via phone and mail.
To recognize all supporters (including voluntary subscribers and contributors) the Optimist planned to publish a front page “Thank You” listing everyone’s names. The outpouring of support was so overwhelming that they had to publish names starting with A through J on May 7 and then names starting with K through Z on May 14. In total they will thank more than 1,350 contributors. As a result of the first “Thank You” cover they experienced a continued outpouring of support through letters and additional financial contributions.
The paper also ran a full page thanking advertisers, listing them all by name in addition to some logos. Going forward the paper plans to run letters from prominent community leaders (including the former mayor, head of the Rotary, local Chamber executive director), who all know the value of community news. Each letter will also include a note on how readers can continue to contribute.
Blair gives credit “to those who stewarded this amazing newspaper through the past 98 years. It’s their dedication to the community that has resulted in this outpouring of support through our most trying time. The success of this campaign really speaks volumes to the value of the Optimist’s newsroom and the dedication of those editors and publishers who came before me.”