The Class of 2020: A Celebration of High School Graduates in Calgary & Area
Overview of this campaign
With the coronavirus pandemic turning everyone’s world upside down last spring, many people were coping with the negative impacts of missing milestone celebrations in their lives — none more so than the hundreds of young people graduating from high school. To that end, the Calgary Herald published an innovative community service project to celebrate the city’s high school graduates in June 2020.
- To create and publish a community service project that benefited our city;
- To highlight achievements of young people in the city and celebrate their accomplishments;
- To provide readers with some uplifting news during difficult times;
- To establish new links with young members of our community and their families, while better reflecting the diversity of our city;
- To grow audience on social media platforms and attract readers to our print product;
- To build a template for an idea that could be utilized at other properties within our newspaper chain;
- To forge a high degree of participation and extensive community outreach within this project, which led to:
- Publishing a marketing campaign in print, online and on social platforms to ask for reader-generated content in three areas: 1.) Grad fashion; 2.) Valedictory speeches; and, 3.) A grad’s hopes for the future. Grads could submit material in any or all of the categories;
- Creating a TikTok video that was a callout for submissions; grads could also use this platform for submitting content;
- Creating an Instagram community service campaign to solicit content;
- Working with local school boards to communicate the opportunities of this campaign to all high schools in our area;
- Proactively spending significant time on Instagram, messaging local grads, grad committees and pods of grads who were sharing photos of their dresses — a popular practice at every local high school.
Results for this campaign
- This community service campaign led to Class of 2020 special sections in print on three consecutive days and a special web page (calgaryherald.com), along with more than 100 submissions of photos, speeches, hopes for the future and videos from grads, published not only in print and online but also published via our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok accounts.
- The project strengthened our relationship with our community. As one grad, Michael Girum, told us: “Thank you so much for the opportunity to be a part of this. The Calgary Herald has played a huge role in the fabric of our city for many years and it was definitely an integral part of my life growing up; being able to have my own work published in it is amazing.”
- It led to new and personal outreach between our organization and 100-plus families from a myriad of diverse communities. Our deputy editor talked to more than 100 graduates or their families (via email or phone), to congratulate them.
- The project benefited the community by celebrating the achievements of young people and providing stories of bright lights in a time of pandemic darkness.
- It benefited the company via new streams of revenue and increased readership on traditional and social media platforms.
- Single copy sales of print editions grew on these days, with the highest sales increase occurring on the first day of the project — 6.3 per cent.
- Digital traffic flowed into the web page where this content was housed and followers increased on our Instagram and TikTok accounts.
- The advertising department reported revenue of more than $40,000 was generated in the category of post-secondary institutions, after this project was published. It provided ad reps with an entry into new discussions with advertisers in this category.
- The project provided a template for similar projects by other newsrooms in our chain, which created their own Class of 2020 campaigns, leading to an efficient sharing of ideas and resources from coast to coast.