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January's Innovator of the Month: Des Moines Register's digital coverage of Iowa caucus

Monday, March 05, 2012   (0 Comments)
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Julia ThompsonWinner: Des Moines (Iowa) Register.


Winner’s representative:
Julia Thompson, senior news editor: Digital

Why Des Moines won:
Digital coverage of the Iowa caucus.

Links:

Q. What prompted you to create this innovation?

A. Iowans are highly invested in their first-in-the-nation caucus, and we knew there would be a large national and local audience looking to us for authoritative journalism about the caucuses and candidates. We decided early in 2011 that it was imperative that we deliver that and more in easily accessible formats across various platforms.

Q. What were the steps in creating it?

A. We first asked ourselves what Iowans needed from us, and the answer was new and innovative ways to get caucus news as it happened. With that, a cornerstone of our strategy became our iOS application, developed in-house by our digital team. It gave Iowans on the go all they needed to know about the candidates and the caucuses, including live results and push notifications as news broke on caucus night. We also launched a website and mobile site for non-iPhone users and used a strong social media strategy to deliver breaking news, videos, photos and data from Republican presidential candidates’ campaign stops across the state. Databases and interactives gave Register readers the tools to see where candidates were going, compare their stances on issues and delve into campaign finance data. And great journalism backed it up our development efforts throughout the caucus cycle.

Q. How did you introduce or promoteit to your audience?

A. We introduced the website first, which we continued to add features to leading up to the January caucuses. We then rolled out the app in November as the race started to heat up. Marketing efforts, in-print and digital promotion let our audience know we were the best place to turn to for digital caucus coverage.

Q. Any results thus far?

A. The Register’s caucus website alone, DesMoinesRegister.com/caucus, drew more than 3.4 million unique visitors and generated more than 5.9 million page views from June through January. The app was downloaded more than 7,700 times. Users initiated more than 106,000 sessions on the app.

Q. What would you recommend to other media wanted to do a similar project?

A. Media looking to pull off a comprehensive digital portfolio for a single event should plan well in advance. Apps, interactives and all of the cool tools that were a part of our digital caucus strategy took weeks and months to design and develop. Making sure the content and development efforts are well-coordinated from the outset is imperative.


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