By David Arkin/Local Media Association
This Valentine’s Day, show your readers some love with creative storytelling and call-to-actions that involve your audience in your products.
There are a bunch of clever ways to do just that which we’ve rounded up here.
1. Submit love stories in three photos
A few years ago, Slate asked readers to submit their love stories in no more than three photos. They said to think of it as a photo haiku. They got heartbreaking stories, poems and narratives. Check out a few of their favorites.
2. Create local sayings on Sweethearts
The Columbus Dispatch put together a bunch of local sayings on Sweethearts since the company is not offering them this year. Here is a great one for the Buckeyes.
3. Who’s getting married at the courthouse?
Valentine’s Day is a popular day to head to the courthouse, so head down and find out how many couples tied the knot. See if you can have a staff member there to create a gallery of all of the couples or set up a camera that newlyweds can use to take a selfie with. Here’s how one news organization did it/
4. Those funny Valentine’s Day stories
Readers Digest has a nice package of 11 hilarious Valentine’s Day stories from its readers. Read their list for some inspiration.
5. Test partners on Modern Love’s 36 questions
The New York Times found three couples and on video asked them Modern Love’s 36 Questions which are intended to bring strangers closer. The back and forth makes for great video. This could also make for a great quiz.
6. Where to eat for on a budget for Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be an exercise to max out a credit card. Put together either places or ideas to do it more economically. Here’s an example.
Also: Consider well-know and some non traditional ideas for a dining list for Feb. 14. Maybe a list for both.
7. Create date ideas that don’t include eating out
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to just be about going to dinner. What about a mural tour or grocery shopping and making your own dinner? This list from Austin 360 offered some fun ideas last year.
8. Have readers share their Valentine’s messages
This idea from Guardian encouraged messages to love ones through their website. A simple web form could accomplish this or you could use social media as a way to gather them up. Repackage them into a series of posts. Encourage readers to tag themselves after you post them.
9. How about a scavenger hunt
This is a fun idea where you ask readers to spot love themes in an edition, on your website or app. You could ask readers to find things that are heart shaped or things that come in pairs that appear in that product. It would take a little planning but could be a real treat.
10. Go out and shoot photos at restaurants, events
Go out and take photos of residents enjoying dinner out or enjoying a Valentine’s Day event. But do it like the Observer Dispatch does for their I-Spy feature where they head to events and take the kind of snapshots you would expect to see in the back of a city magazine.
How a unique program is going to help news organizations grow their branded content business