NWZ’s insect project engages readers, boosts subscriptions

By Ulrich Schönborn

Nordwest-Zeitung

Oldenburg, Lower Saxony, Germany

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The NWZ Insect Year project gave us the unique opportunity to successfully combine a relevant journalistic topic, real audience engagement, and marketing opportunities in both the advertising and subscription markets.

For some time now, the topic of insect extinction, combined with concern for our environment and nature and thus our livelihood, has been moving the public. We decided to proactively do something against insect mortality together with our readers and users. 

In print and online, we called on readers to create insect-friendly areas and to report the number of square metres of their insect-friendly areas in the garden, on the company premises, on the edge of the sports field, or on the balcony.

NWZ devoted extensive coverage to preserving insects and creating insect-friendly areas.
NWZ devoted extensive coverage to preserving insects and creating insect-friendly areas.

We accompanied this with a total of 31 weekly topic pages in the print version of NWZ that included tips on how to create insect-friendly areas, information about (and from) the insect world, and even a portrait of the Insect of the Week.

Parallel to this, we continuously reported in the local editions of the NWZ about people who answered the call and created insect-friendly areas. And we linked the project with our NWZ Childrens Club.

Gaining support

Thankfully, we have found competent partners to support us in word and deed: The Park of Gardens in Bad Zwischenahn, the State Museum of Nature and Man in Oldenburg, and the Nature Conservation Society Nabu.

All articles, pictures, and videos were then collected on a special Web site.

We compiled the areas reported to us via an online tool or by e-mail, then published them online on an interactive map. With the online tool, we were also able to document the growth of insect-friendly areas in the Oldenburg region.

The campaign concluded with a public discussion event with Lower Saxonys Environment Minister Olaf Lies and Editor-in-Chief Lars Reckermann in the Park of Gardens.

More than 30 different topic pages devoted to protecting insects and learning more about them were published during the campaign.
More than 30 different topic pages devoted to protecting insects and learning more about them were published during the campaign.

Powerful response

The response was overwhelming. During the project period, we were notified of 1,511,192 square metres of insect-friendly areas. These ranged from small corners on balconies to large flowering meadows on areas formerly used for agriculture. This corresponds to about 210 football pitches.

The feedback we received was consistently positive. In addition, we have succeeded in winning permanent sponsors for the theme page, so we also achieved marketing revenues.

A subscription campaign was also linked to the project. We reached 1,087 trial subscriptions within eight weeks, 159 of which we were able to convert into full subscriptions.

The project addressed a current, relevant topic (save nature and environment), encouraged participation, promoted a sense of community among our readers and users, highlighted developments and successes, and delivered high-quality content. 

All in all, we made the world a little better place. At the same time, we created and ran a project that was not only succesful among our readers and users, but also found high acceptance, motivation, and fun among the editorial staff.

Banner image courtesy of Jill Wellington from Pixabay.

About Ulrich Schönborn

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