Jan. 11 is the deadline for entries

We're shining a spotlight on innovation

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Michael Maness, innovator-in-residence at Harvard Business School, noted during the 2016 inaugural year of the Mega-Innovation Award that lots of newspapers seem to be doing incremental innovation.  What he said he doesn't see very often is revolutionary innovation: new products with new consumers that you haven't had before.  "This is the kind of system that we want to be seeing," Maness said. Read more from comments made by the 2016 contest judge

Is your newspaper or corporate office doing something innovative?  If so, resolve to submit a nomination for this year's Mega-Innovation Award.  The deadline for entries is Jan. 11. There is no cost to enter.

Submit an entry

Don't think you can't compete with the large metros?  In 2016, the winner was a three-day-a-week paper. The Forsyth County News in Cumming, Ga., was honored for increasing its social media following by 1,000 percent.

Other components of the paper's entry included:

  • Cross-training of staff and teamwork between the editorial and advertising sides.
  • Studio Forsyth, the video component of the paper's website with sponsored local shows, commercials, stories and event coverage.
  • The Best of Forsyth contest, which drew 70,000 votes in its first year and 140,000 in the second, and offers aggressive print and digital sales packages for advertisers.
  • Own the Day, exclusive advertising space offered daily at a premium rate. It includes a full-page print ad as well as prime space on the website and top space on the paper's Top Stories email.
  • The Grind, a player-of-the-week platform for print, digital video and social media that is aimed at engaging high school students.
  • A modified new subscriber and retention program that included substantial rate increases.

Last year, Calkins Media took top honors. When the company was a finalist in 2016 for the Mega-Innovation award, its video stream produced by the Bucks County Courier Times was a repeating four-hour content block. Now, it is essentially a local TV station.

The video stream is available through apps for IOS and Android, devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV, and the Courier Times website.

Mega-Innovation judges noted a commitment to public service journalism on all platforms. Calkins Media boasts that the organization focuses less on chasing cops and clicks and more on watchdog and enterprise journalism. A former copy editor now serves as TV programmer.

Nominate your paper this year!

This award is designed to recognize innovative achievements made by newspapers of all sizes.

Have you:

  • Introduced a new product, service or go-to-market approach that is substantially changing your current or future business model?
  • Grown your digital revenue to be a critical portion of your revenue mix?
  • Tapped into new audiences with a new approach to publishing?
  • Diversified your revenue to be less dependent on traditional newspaper advertising?
  • Created a culture of innovation for your employees?

If the answer is "YES" to any or all of these questions, you need to submit a nomination for the 2018 Mega-Innovation Award!

Submit an entry

This award will be presented at the 2018 Key Executives Mega-Conference to a newspaper or multi-property media company – not to an individual person.  Ensure that your company is recognized for the innovative steps it is taking by submitting a nomination for this prestigious award!

The 2018 Mega-Conference, sponsored by Inland Press Association, Local Media Association, Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and News Media Alliance, will showcase the finalists at the conference.  The award winner will be announced following all four presentations.

The deadline for entries is Jan. 11, 2018 (11:59 p.m. Eastern).

To assist you in preparing your entry, here are the questions the entry form asks.  Answer those that pertain to your company. (Essay responses: 300 words or less, suggested)

  • New Revenue Channels: What new product(s) or approaches have you introduced in the past three years that is/are making a significant difference to your business model today or is expected to significantly alter your business model in the near future?
  • Digital Revenue: My digital revenue was ___ percent of my total revenue over the past 12 months.  Digital revenue at my company grew ___ percent over the previous year. 
  • Non-Core Revenue: Have you diversified your revenue in other ways beyond print and digital, such as events or agency services (PR work, logo development, competitive media placement, etc.?)  If yes, what percentage of your total advertising revenue comes from these streams? What do you expect it to be in three years? Please provide any additional details or comments that you would like judges to consider.
  • Audience Development: Please describe any innovative audience approaches your company has taken that has allowed your company to reach more readers, new audience segments (eg: millennials, sports fanatics, etc.) or improve subscriber engagement.  How has this impacted subscriptions, open rates, social shares or total audience?
  • Sales & Marketing Approach: Check which of the following most applies to you: (1) We have trained all sales executives how to sell digital products. (2) We have a separate staff to sell digital and/or new initiatives. (3) We have specialized people who sell the complicated stuff and help the rest of the staff sell our new and/or digital product mix.  Then, please describe any innovative sales and marketing approaches you have taken that have helped your company improve the trajectory of your revenue.
  • Organizational & Company Culture Transformation: Please describe how your company has changed its organizational structure, work environment and/or rewards to encourage innovation.

Submit an entry

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