The Local Media Association’s 2018 Digital News Innovator of the Year has been described as “lightning in a bottle” and is being recognized for the work she’s done to digitally transform her company through innovation and training.

Erica Smith, online editor and director of digital strategy at The Virginian-Pilot, is the winner of this year’s award. Smith will receive her award at the May 1-2 Digital Revenue Summit in Chicago.

“Erica is lightning in a bottle when it comes to digital media innovation,” wrote Pat Richardson, publisher of The Pilot in Smith’s nomination letter. “We are a stand-alone newspaper, not part of a chain, and all innovation comes from within. And, as online editor and director of audience strategy for The Virginian-Pilot and Pilot Media Companies she does it all.”

Last year, Smith taught a nine-week digital training class that most of the newsroom staff completed. She’s been a leader in The Pilot’s participation in the Poynter Table Stakes project and the Trusting News project. She also has built partnerships at The Pilot with companies like NextDoor. She guided the development of a new app that led to capabilities like push alerts, which played a role in The Pilot’s audience growth last year. And she has developed Facebook bots.

This is an incredible honor,” Smith said. “I enjoy nothing more than serving and connecting with our local users and readers. In the past year, The Pilot’s digital team has found new ways to do that. Working together toward that common goal, we’re helping our community and our industry. Nothing is more rewarding or challenging.”

Before coming to The Pilot, Smith worked in print, radio and digital news organizations in Indiana, Washington and Missouri.

“We are so happy for Erica,” said LMA President Nancy Lane. “She has done such great work at The Pilot, work that has boosted their audience and helped digitally transform their entire media company.”

* You can register for the Digital Revenue Summit here *