This section features digital and social media work examples for Paula Wethington of Monroe, Mich. I also have a hard copy digital portfolio for work done in 2017 that can be shared on request.
The social media tools, apps and services that I have experience using include Storify, Tumblr, HootSuite, TweetDeck, ManageFlitter, Ripl, Tweepi, Canva and Snappa.
A professional work history, including social media classes I have taken, can be found on my resume / CV page.
My duties for The Monroe News website from about 2006 to 2017 can be described as that of an assistant web producer / assistant web editor. In fall 2017, I was named Digital Team Leader for the newsroom; which meant I was now the person primarily responsible for posting / scheduling / formatting content. The other team members are three newsroom staff members who had expressed an interest in, but did not have much experience in, digital media content.
Regardless of my job description in that role, my responsibilities for many years included writing and posting snow day school closing reports, AMBER alerts, severe weather alerts and maintaining the calendar section. In 2017, I also worked on an update of our website graphics.
The Monroe on a Budget project, a WordPress blog under our community blog project, wrapped up in 2015 after publishing for eight years.
My other digital projects include a Barbie doll collection reference hobby website that launched in 1998 and stayed up for about five years. I coded the site, after figuring out on my own how to use Netscape. I still have a portfolio book with printouts of the pages that shows what I did.
Here are some of my success stories on running newsroom and personal brand topics:
- The Facebook pages for Bedford Now and Monroe News are among my responsibilities. Tactics I have implemented to improve reach and engagement included studying best timing for posts and recommending changes to our schedule; participating in the social community by giving likes and shares to other pages; synching content timing among our social media accounts for better reach; tagging applicable pages; setting up preferred page audiences; targeting content when there is a niche interest; and leveraging page invites to build an active and engaged audience.
- Instagram was a runaway hit for The Monroe News in 2016. We ran our Instagram page off and on; but didn’t have a content plan until 2015 when I took it over and focused on local landmarks. After the follower numbers started jumping, I added promotional content. The impact: I took that account from 362 followers in January 2015 to over 4,000 by January 2018.
- Pinterest is also among my success stories. I have run The Monroe News’ account since Pinterest’s invitation-only days. This included reorganizing and replacing content when all photo library links were broken twice during website updates. It remains a standout among newspaper accounts because it remains active, has a showcase gallery and branded board covers. My own Pinterest account also went through a rebranding and update in 2016, it’s now a showcase of social media tips and tricks with 1,400 followers.
- Twitter is among my earliest success stories. I have run The Monroe News Twitter since shortly after its launch in 2009. The Bedford Now and Monroe Sports Twitters both spiked in numbers after I started to co-host the accounts. My newsroom Twitter, focusing on local news and with the screen name @MonroeNewsPaula, was our first newsroom Twitter account under GateHouse Media rules to hit over 1,000 followers. My original Twitter, which launched in 2009 and now has the screen name @WethingtonPaula, has more than 9,000 followers – and carries only a 5 percent “faker” count as calculated by StatusPeople.com in January 2018.
Now for some show and tell:
Some of the unique content that has been posted on The Monroe News’ social media accounts has been my idea – or at least my adaptation of an idea.
The Star Wars infographic was my idea. I wanted a local spin on the Star Wars memory memes that trend from time to time. So I spent a half hour looking through old microfilms in 2017 to study up on just what was showing in late spring of 1977 in a small city.
Here’s one of my Super Bowl-themed social media posts. I deliberately used emojis in the poll replies:
Branded social media images
One of the strategies taught among marketing professionals is the concept of “branding.”
As applied to social media, this idea means a consistent use of a logo, phrasing, links, colors, themes, content choices, sizes, patterns and related design and writing elements that provide clues and context as to who the message comes from.
On behalf of The Monroe News and its weekly publication Bedford Now, I started a rebranding effort in spring 2017. I used Canva to create dozens of new file art images; specifically sized for our website but also intended to cross over well on social media. This project was spurred by the fact we lost our website image gallery during a template change in 2016 and reporters were frustrated by not having “ready made” images available.
The formula I settled on after studying what worked (and didn’t) was 1200 by 800 pixels, Merriweather font in black, white background when possible for logos, dominant element in the middle, 50 percent transparency if appropriate to background images, Monroe News file art such as this snow scene when possible and Thinkstock images to help fill in the gaps.
I also made images specifically for Pinterest with a branded look to The Monroe News. This included recipe board pins that promote an online cook book.
Special project support
The Gandee brothers of Temperance, Mich., are the boys who walk piggyback style, with the older brother carrying his physically disabled younger brother, around the community. This led to highly publicized walks to raise awareness for cerebral palsy.
The Gandees took on their most ambitious project in April 2016 with a walk to Lansing. Monroe News photographer Tom Hawley spent much of the week with the family as a special project.
I attended the kick off and wrote some of the articles for the ongoing feature. But my most significant contribution was providing social media support that included monitoring Facebook and Twitter to see what we should share from the family and their sponsors, linking up all The Monroe News content on our social media accounts, creating a Storify roundup of the last day, designing the digital version of our promotional image for the project, and tracking the web analytics for our executive editor.
You can find our home page for the project at The Gandee brothers’ Cerebral Palsy Swagger walk to Lansing.
Another example of special project support took place in May 2017, when The Monroe News was covering a high-interest murder case against Daniel Clay. He was accused of killing Chelsea Bruck. We had a reporter in the courtroom during the entire trial; a photographer was assigned to get photos. And it was up to me to keep the website content current while also feeding other news of the day.
I programmed Twitter widgets for the live tweeting from the courtroom; embedded video clips as they became available. I also created an “In Review” file that served as the home page for several days worth of coverage.
The Monroe News ranked at the top of Google searches that week for the trial. The significance of hitting top of the Google search is that several other, much larger media outlets were also covering the case.
This photo was taken fall 2015 at Bedford Community Stadium to go with a feature story I wrote about on high school cheer sections. The students had just thrown a burst of baby powder into the stands. I love the laughter on their faces.
One of my “multimedia journalist” assignments was a feature story in June 2014 about the behind the scenes activities at NASCAR races at Michigan International Speedway. I not only pitched the story, but ended up handling all writing, photography and social media on the project. I brought back numerous photos not just for the main feature that was published a week later, but a photograph at Victory Circle that was chosen for the sports page the next day and also a spinoff feature on autograph collecting.
And this 2017 Best Nine collage for Instagram shows what I did on that account. All but two images in this collage were my work. The flowering trees and downtown mural were photos taken by co-workers.
Animated and video content
I’ve used Facebook’s native video upload, Vine and Tout while on breaking news and feature assignments to create and upload short videos.
I also have produced occasional news reports and public service announcement videos for YouTube using Splice and Windows Live Movie Maker as the editing tools.
One of my favorite YouTube pieces was called What to Eat When the Power Goes Out – a relevant question for those who are closely watching grocery budgets! It was a public service video in conjunction with Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week. I scripted that piece, also did all the production work. A family member did the filming.
In keeping with the shift on social media during 2017-18 toward livestreaming video, here’s a link to the archive of a Facebook Live program I produced in January 2018: “Epic Winter Storms that hit Monroe County, Michigan”. The panelists are myself and a co-worker.
After Twitter polls were introduced in 2015, I started running them on the Monroe News and Bedford Now accounts. The record number of participants was in September 2016 as Monroe High School and Bedford High School picked who would win their rivalry football game that week.
This example from 2016 national college football playoffs reflects the fact many of the Monroe News readers were not happy about Michigan State University’s loss to Alabama.
Jan. 26 is the anniversary of two significant blizzards that hit Monroe County, Michigan, during the 1970s. With that, I had a great opportunity for repurposing of content. Because the winter of 2014 and 2015 were so harsh, people kept telling stories and sharing pictures on social media during those years about the Blizzard of 1978 and Blizzard of 1977.
In response to that chatter in 2015, I researched and wrote feature with local facts about the 1978 storm.
I realized in 2016 that the content still resided on our website (although it was lost later that year in an update).
I reposted the link out on Facebook on the blizzard anniversary date. That post hit a reach of 41,079 within a day; which is impressively viral for a page that had about 24,000 fans at the time.
It still kept popping up in Facebook news feed during 2017 and 2018.
Content management systems
This website is among the several personal or newsroom blogs I’ve hosted or co-hosted on the WordPress format. I also used the Blogger format on a short run project.
I have used the Ellington website content management system and Saxotech Online while handling web production duties for the Monroe News and Bedford Now websites.
I have been lead admin for The Monroe News’ online calendar editor since 2006, using three different website calendar formats. Our newsroom is currently on the Evie Says platform.
Social media analytics
I routinely use Facebook Insights, Facebook Pages to Watch, and Twitter Analytics to track trends and see what’s working. In addition, I’ve used StatusPeople, Likealyzer and WordPress analytics to review accounts.
These numbers have been useful for our managers and editors when they wish to review key metrics or gauge the success of a project. I’ve also used that data to relay best practices, popular topics and success stories to my co-workers.
One of the key metrics we track at The Monroe News is weekly Facebook engagement rate. On a consistent basis, The Monroe News outperforms larger newsrooms / publications on that metric.