Friday, March 9, 2012

'Front page' photo contest seeks reader submissions

Photo contests are my new favorite thing.
Entries for the "front page" photo contest we're hosting at The Oakland Press are starting to fill my inbox and I feel rather privileged to be the first to see the submissions.
Entries I've received so far range from a rare shot of a hawk bathing in someone's bird bath to a fawn nestled in a garden, sunsets over some of the county's lakes, gorgeous landscape scenes from the many parks our county boasts and so much more.

Why we're hosting the 'front page' contest
On March 30, all Facebook pages will be switched over to the new timeline format. This format includes what is called a cover photo — essentially, a really big image that runs across the top of the page.
The Digital First Media engagement group has been buzzing about the new timeline — check out Mandy Jenkins' blog post, How news brands can get started on Facebook Timeline.
Jenkins' mentioned that The Kingston Daily Freeman, a sister paper in New York, is crowdsourcing for a photo to fill the prominent space.
Sounded like a great idea to me, so we put together our own crowdsourcing request asking people to send in a photo that best represents our county.

What the contest offers our audience
Once the submission deadline has passed, we'll put the photos in an album on our Facebook page as well as a Pinterest board (it'll be our first time using Pinterest, yay!) for public voting.
The photo with the most combined likes/pins will be the contest winner.
We're going to run the winning photograph prominently on our front page and write an article with background information about the image and photographer who captured it.
And of course, it'll get that coveted cover photo spot on our Facebook page — for six months, we promised!
It's great exposure for aspiring photographers.
While digital first may be our mantra around here, we have not forgotten about the power of the front page and we're happy to use that power to showcase the talent of the community members we serve.

What the contest offers The Oakland Press
Oh, so much.
We are building an awesome album of photos from members of our county about the county we serve. That's pretty cool on its own,  promoting the talent of our community members and our community all in one album.
I'm counting on a lot of engagement with this too. I'm sure the photographers who are submitting pics will share the voting links with their own networks to better their chances at winning, and I hope that translates into more people finding out what a vibrant Facebook page we have.
Last but not least, the photos are a beautiful source of visual content for us — for our website, for our print paper and for our social networks. 
It's a win-win for everyone.

Going forward
Reporter Shaun Byron began urging us to run photo contests over the summer. His idea was to ask the county's students to submit photos that best represent Oakland County in the summer.
We never got the contest off the ground before summer ended. And then fall turned to winter and you know how it goes.
But we've found a new enthusiasm for photo contests — or rather, we're inspired by the enthusiasm of our audience for these contests — and it's a safe bet that we'll be doing a lot more of these in the future.

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