Marketing and audience engagment
For obvious reasons, engaging with our audiences was a real challenge this year. Still, we did not want to lose the connection to our community we had fostered for so long. For this reason, we set up several initiatives which would allow students to engage with us even in this virtual environment.
12 days of spoke giveaways
We used our platform to drive community engagement with the student publication in the pandemic-running 12 Days of Giveaways with a twist- all the prizes were for gift cards in small businesses in the area, in order to support our advertisers as well as form connections with new ones!
During this promotion we started a spoke TikTok account, show-casing our staff and work, with some of our posts amassing upwards of 1000 views. Additionally, we ran alumni podcasts, asked editors emeritus to tell us how their time on the Spoke impacted them, and ran scavenger hunts in our archives.
Pitching a story idea
While we have always had the option to pitch story ideas for our publication, this year we wanted to make it even easier for students to engage with us. For this reason, we integrated a landing page into our Instagram account using linktree. From here, students are able to access our website's home-page, pitch a story idea with a google form and connect with us more easily in general.
Giving the student body a platform
While the Spoke plays a huge role at Conestoga, we are not the only group of writers in the building. The Cappies are a group of Conestoga students who are particularly dedicated to theater and more specifically, the art of theater critique. While they lost access to all their competitions due to the pandemic this year, they didn't want their hard work to go to waste. For this reason, I made the decision to offer them our platform spoke.news in order to continue to write and share about the art they love. Our partnership began in December and is the first Cappie-Spoke partnership in the school's history.
I hope my legacy at the Spoke is one of representation of the student body and that we are able to continue to engage with our audience in ways that matter.
Humans of quarantine
One of the first practices I implemented as Editor-in-Chief was bringing back our "Humans of 'Stoga" project in the form of "Humans of Quarantine" in order to drive up web engagement. See some of the posts by clicking the see more button and visiting my photojournalism page.
While our new merchandise designs for the year are still in the works we found other ways to engage with our reporters and brand ourselves at the school. While we could not distribute physical press passes this year, we still distributed lanyards and Spoke notebooks, with the notebook being a new addition that I designed this year.
Additionally, we also introduced the concept of digital press passes which I gave a fresh look for the year. I designed them for the entirety of the staff in order to allow them to enter and cover games under social distancing guidelines.
Handling the business
I'll be honest. I'm a writer and editor, not a business manager. That said, this publication is too important to me not to get involved in every aspect of it. So when I was asked to understand the business side of things- I hit the books.
After handling Spoke business all year, I've had to make some finance oriented decisions such as:
1. Changing circulation numbers in order to better accommodate our pricing for printing
2. Took inventory of all of our equipment that had piled up over the years and created a budget for repairs and replacements- We are currently anxiously awaiting the arrival of 4 new cameras!
3. Handled the payment of our domain name and severe for our website: This was something that came under the scrutiny of the administration this past Summer. In order to resolve the issue of editors paying for the costs, I am in the process of founding a non-profit where I have donors lined up to handle costs in coming years.
4. Handled the distribution for subscriptions
5. Brainstormed for ways to support advertisers: When many small businesses could not afford our advertising contract due to losses during the pandemic we drafted new ones to accommodate their financial limits as well as gave free web advertising to support our community in these difficult times.
As well as many more! See our 12 days of giveaway page to learn more about the creative way we supported our advertisers this year. Stay tuned for the next initiative we are planning to celebrate the end of the academic year!