Open Up Project

Open Up Project

SaltWire Network

Halifax, Canada

Category Best Brand Awareness Campaign

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign

Launched September 2017, The Open Up Project focused on creating an Atlantic Canadian conversation about local media: what will it take to re-establish and reinforce the relationship between citizens and news publications?

The campaign focused on gaining feedback from internal staff, community members and readers across SaltWire Network, Atlantic Canada’s largest media platform, which includes 35 titles in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. The conversation asked: what are we doing well and what needs improvement at each of our publications? In an industry where we rarely turn the mirror back on ourselves, and amidst a post-truth world, we felt it was time to fearlessly invite this feedback.

There were two primary prongs to this campaign: an internal component asking employees to “open up” and a public campaign encouraging the public to “tell us what they really think.”

The objective of the staff component was to engage staff in an informal forum where they could provide honest feedback. We wanted to encourage truthful conversations about how essential media can be built from the inside-out, with specific insights on everything from our brand and publications to content, community and culture. The initial objectives were:

  • Complete 18 internal sessions.
  • Secure 85% participation amongst staff who were invited.
  • Receive an average of one piece of written feedback from each employee (verbal was considered separate) to achieve 100% engagement amongst those who participated.

The public component included a print and digital campaign across our publications, directing readers to our campaign website The objectives were:

  • Receive 350 pieces of public feedback.

Our second initiative to gain reader feedback was community evening networking events where we invited clients and community leaders to for an evening of conversation to “Open Up” about the good, bad and ugly. The objectives were:

  • Complete seven community events.
  • Host an average of 100 people at each event.
  • Receive written feedback from at least 50% of participants.

Results for this campaign

Over a two-month period, we travelled 7,728 km, participated in thousands of internal and external conversations and achieved or exceeded nearly all of our targets:





Internal employee sessions completed




Participation of staff


85% of total staff at nine locations

90% of staff at nine publications  

Written feedback from staff

One piece/employee (100% engagement)


1.33 pieces/employee (133% engagement)

Feedback submitted on website

Minimum of 350 pieces received


456 pieces received (30% higher than target)

Community events completed




Community event attendance


Average of 100ppl/event (700 total)

Average of 99.3ppl/event (695 total)

Written feedback from event


Written feedback from 50% of those who attend

Written feedback from 68% of those who attended



While the numbers tell of a successful initiative, what is more valuable is the qualitative outcomes.  Within the walls of our publications, we received invaluable information from our colleagues, showing us where we can enhance our work environments and culture. For example: 15% of our staff told us they would like to have the courage and ability to speak up more and more than 180 staff said they wished to have increased communication across the Network.

Externally, the qualitative feedback was equally important. Many people felt they have lost features in their newspapers that were vitally important: local sports, community happenings and, most frequently, good news stories. Additionally, we heard how our readers want to hear global news stories that don’t include Donald Trump. We heard negative feedback as well, which we are working hard to rectify to ensure our customer satisfaction increases.

Overall, the Open Up Project has built the foundation we need to continue a bigger conversation around local news media and how we can better serve our customers and communities. This will continue well into 2018 and 2019 as we use the insights gained in 2017 to inform what conversations must happen next.



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