Holiday Lights Contest Gets the Attention of The Travel Channel

by Julie Foley Second Street

The Background

The Signal is a 9,500 circulation daily newspaper in Santa Clarita, California. The paper has been running online contests since 2008.

The Idea

The Signal had been running a Holiday Lights Contest for 19 years, but they had always done it with print submissions and staff votes and the contest had never generated any revenue. In 2012, the paper decided it was time for an update. This time, photos would be submitted online and the winner would be determined by an online vote in addition to the staff vote. Finally, the paper decided to seek out a sponsor for the contest. While there was still not much emphasis placed on revenue in 2012, the paper is set up to increase their revenue significantly in 2013.

The Execution

The 2013 Holiday Lights Contest was sponsored by Douglas Furniture. As part of the promotional package, the sponsor received the following:

  • Banner ad on the contest homepage
  • Logo in weekly ¼ print ads
  • Logo on run-of-site banner ads promoting the contest

In addition to the elements listed above, the contest was promoted with the following:

  • Email messages sent throughout the contest
  • Editorial write-ups announcing the contest and the winners
  • Links in the “What’s Hot” and “Quick Links” modules on The Signal’s website
  • Daily posts to Facebook and Twitter promoting the contest

The Holiday Lights Contest was mobile optimized and ran on Facebook in addition to on The Signal’s website.

The Results

The contest generated 472 email opt-ins and $600 in sponsorship revenue for the paper, and they plan to significantly increase that number next year.

As a longtime client of The Signal, Douglas Furniture was thrilled by the amount of exposure they received by sponsoring the Holiday Lights Contest.

Another result of the contest was entirely unexpected! After promoting the contest, The Signal got a call from The Travel Channel asking if they could feature the Holiday Lights Contest on one of their Christmas specials, which will air during the 2013 holiday season. The paper said yes, so the Travel Channel accompanied The Signal on their annual Holiday Lights Tour, when staff from the paper travels to houses and neighborhoods that participated in the contest to visit with the entrants.

The Signal is looking forward to promoting their 2013 Holiday Lights Contest by saying “As Seen on The Travel Channel”!

Why It Worked

  • Contest promotion included both print and online elements.
  • Online voting allowed contest entrants to engage more closely with contest.
  • Running the contest on Facebook in addition to on their website allowed the paper to reach a wider audience.

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