Bergens Tidende (BT), founded in 1868, is one of the largest newspapers in Norway. Reporting from the city, region, and country, it is an institution in Bergen — the second-largest city in Norway with over 270,000 inhabitants. BT is the most important newspaper in Bergen and Western Norway and is regarded as one of Europe’s leading regional digital media houses.
We think Bergen is full of fantastic people, nice places, and good experiences that deserve to be celebrated. With this in mind, Bergens Tidende invited the local community to vote for the best of what the city has to offer.
After a 10-year break, Bergens Beste returned to Bergens Tidende in April 2021.
It coincided with Bergens Tidende’s escalated strategic focus on Bergen at a time when the city was under restrictions due to COVID-19 and gradually starting to reopen. Our goal was to engage our readers when socialising was more difficult than ever. The work was led by the culture department but was a project that involved all employees in BT.
We started by asking our readers to nominate candidates in 10 different categories: Best store, bar, restaurant, hairdresser, craftsman, corona hero, entertainment, kebab, association, and the best activity for children. An independent jury then reviewed the proposals and selected the candidates. The big final round consisted of five candidates that the readers could vote for in each category.
We decided to relaunch and renew the logo with a clear visual identity and kicked off with a “Do you remember” campaign with the new Best of Bergen heart logo before we encouraged the readers and subscribers to nominate candidates. We made sure it had distinct, memorable, and flexible colours and designs for all materials and on bt.no.
In addition to the articles on bt.no and in the print edition, we had a large marketing campaign with print ads, digital ads (banners, online stamps, video on SoMe), outdoor video ads, and merchandise (bags, stickers, posters) to increase visibility, knowledge about the brand, and to engage all of Bergen.
This gave the result of 4,000 nominations from the readers and the jury decided on 50 nominees.
In the readers’ hands
Then it was up to the readers to decide the winners. Our goal was to encourage readers to vote and to make sure Bergens Beste had as much visibility as possible throughout the city. We used the same heart logo, design, and colours on all materials, and once again made sure that Bergens Beste was well exposed all over Bergen.
We used a log-in to make sure that people could only vote one time per category. The new voting solution was hailed as easy and smooth and was later scaled to Aftenposten, the largest subscription newspaper in Norway.
The response from the readers was immense. Bergens Beste became the talk of the town with 43,000 votes by 16,000 unique users. That’s massive in our terms.
After three months of waiting in suspense, the winners were finally announced in late August. BT’s editor-in-chief, Frøy Gudbrandsen, personally visited all of the winners to hand out flowers and the winner prize for each category. The reactions of the winners were heartwarming, and they were all so excited and proud.
The massive engagement amongst readers was accompanied by a great commitment from all of the employees in BT. The newsroom produced as many as 35 articles throughout the project, and most of them turned out to engage a lot of readers. In addition, we developed new technical solutions and visibility.
With over 4,000 nominations, 43,000 votes, and half a million pageviews, we can say with certainty that we reached our goal of engaging our readers during a time of limited socialising.