Defined by Webster’s Dictionary, this word means “extending beyond the usual or ordinary, especially in size or scope.”
That’s the word we used to describe the Seattle Seahawks’ National Football League championship in the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.
These last couple of weeks, our team at The News Tribune has been floating on air. We have not had a championship on this level in Seattle since 1979, when the Sonics won the National Basketball Association title. Most of us were not working at The News Tribune 35 years ago, and some weren’t even born.
So what did we do to make this one special? We spent a lot of time planning. The three weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, our team spent hours planning for different contingencies.
First, the Seahawks had to win the National Football Conference (NFC) championship, which they did in the final seconds, thanks to their stellar defense.
The next day, we sold about 3,500 more newspapers than on an average Monday, or a 67% increase. We were pleased with the sales, but then moved on to planning for the Super Bowl.
The problem with planning for any major championship is that you spend hours planning, but it all comes down in the end to which team wins. If the Seahawks won, there were rewards on many fronts. A loss would mean a lot of effort for not much return.
Thankfully, for our team in Tacoma, our solid planning paid off.
As soon as the game was over, our Seahawks Insider blog literally shut down for 10 minutes; never before did we have traffic that maxed out our bandwidth allowance. Our unique visitors to our Web site were up nearly 100% the day of the Super Bowl.
We also engaged our customers on social media, with hundreds of tweets each day leading up to the Super Bowl, and more than 200 during the Super Bowl alone, from various members of our team.
Facebook saw some action, as well, with 14 posts just during the game, with some netting 200 likes and 60 comments per post.
Of course, our single-copy sales were nothing to forget about either. Our single-copy team worked all night with our distributors on getting the newspapers out, and then worked tirelessly all day Monday to keep stores stocked.
Even up to the Wednesday after the game, we were still taking returns from racks and delivering them to stores. Early projections are sales of close to 30,000, a 500% increase over a normal Monday.
We started promoting a book, “Super Hawks,” within the first five minutes after the game ended. Triumph Books, which partnered with us on the book, has a strong record of producing championship titles. Super Hawks is a compilation of articles and photos from every game of the season, as well as features on some key players and the head coach.
As of Friday after the game, we were selling better than other major metro newspapers had done with their titles in recent years. We attribute that success to the strong marketing push behind the book, which included multiple e-mail blasts to our base of 200,000 e-mails, multiple social media pushes, and a partnership with an e-mail marketing firm to reach an additional 600,000 e-mails in the South Sound market.
We didn’t stop there. We also worked with a local print shop to have its crew come in at 3 a.m. the Monday after the Super Bowl and produce posters of our A1 and our sports sections’ front pages.
Our pre-press team also produced more than 100 plates of those pages to sell to our readers. These posters and plates paid for themselves in the first hour of going on sale, and were still selling steady a week after the game.
So how does this all come together, you might ask? For me personally, this shows the power that newspapers still have with our local audience. Our audience still comes to us when they want the big news, and our job now is to capitalise on that and keep them with us.
If only every day was a Super Bowl …