Leading up to the April 22-23 Local Media Association Digital Revenue Summit in Chicago where winners from the Local Media Digital Innovation Awards will be presented, we’ll be showcasing some of the winners and the great work that will be on display.

Today, we’re featuring the Daily Herald Media Group, which won for Best Events Strategy. The judges said this about their entry:

“I liked how they incorporated a “multi-pronged” approach and were very systematic with their events … and I liked their examples the best.”

We caught up with Eileen Brown, Vice President/Director of Strategic Marketing for the Daily Herald Media Group to learn more about their events strategy. 

Here’s what she had to say:

First, can you tell us a little about your news organization?

The Daily Herald Media Group is located in Arlington Heights, Ill. We’re the third largest paper in Illinois serving the west and northwest suburbs of Chicago. Besides the daily newspaper and website, we also have Reflejos, a bi-lingual Spanish publication; the Business Ledger, a monthly business publication, Oaklee’s, a family-oriented guide, as well as numerous other magazines and publications. We also operate Town Square, which publishes chamber guides across the country. We offer clients comprehensive digital offerings and, of course, we have an events division.

Share the details about your events strategy.

We come at our events from a number of different directions. We want to engage our readers, help promote our advertisers, strengthen our brand, produce revenue and have fun. If we add a charity in the mix, then we really feel like we’ve done our job. Our events strategy tries to connect our readers with our advertisers in a way that is meaningful to both. To that end, we have a wide variety of events we offer and we are always up for trying new things. We take pride in working with our sponsors to make sure both are brands are well represented.

Are there specific events that have worked the best, and why do you think that is? 

Again, going back to this idea of connecting readers and sponsors is key. We have done very simple events like hosting a gardening class at a local nursery. So easy, but so much fun. Readers absolutely love these type of events and advertisers love hosting them. One year, we hosted an event at a local lighting store where we had the Daily Herald film critic talk about film noir. (Lighting in the movies, get it?) Everyone was thrilled.

Of course, we do much more complicated events. One of our biggest is the Fittest Loser, where we sponsor a 12- week community weight loss and fitness competition every year. There are a lot of moving parts to that one, but we try to get everyone involved in the planning to make sure everyone’s needs are being met. We’ve hosted it for eight years and we’re still going strong in terms of community involvement and revenue.

Advice for someone new to events? 

It is very daunting to start out, but it is doable.  Start small. Have systems and checklists in place. Be flexible. Oh, and don’t worry about people not signing up for your event. Everyone seems to wait until the last minute. It is nerve-wracking! Oh, don’t start out with outdoor events unless you have a Plan B.

Anything else you would like to share? 

Events are a great way to attract new advertisers. We have companies sponsoring events that would never dream of advertising in a local newspaper. They are also a way to re-engage current advertisers who might be cutting back their spend. They are also a terrific way to meet and get to know your readers. Win-win.

Register today for the Digital Revenue Summit where we will be recognizing the best digital innovation in the industry.