This contest recognizes the best in local digital media in 15 categories such as best local website, best virtual event, best branded content strategy and more. It is a highly competitive contest designed to recognize both large and small media companies for their outstanding and innovative work.

Local media companies can submit entries for FREE thanks to all of our sponsors.

The deadline to enter is Jan. 15. 

Best Local Website* Sponsored by Adpay

This award recognizes the best all-around local media websites. Judges will consider all aspects including user and customer experience, site design and organization, brand continuity, content (is it local and relevant?), use of photos, graphics and video, opportunities for user engagement, presentation of advertising, mobile adaptability, and more. Entries should include a link to the website along with a letter that makes a case for the best local website, addressing improvements in the last year, such as relaunch or redesign, audience growth, traffic referral shifts, or technological achievements. Judges will be looking for creative, intuitive, and robust websites beautifully designed with strong local content. Click here to submit an entry into this category.

Best Social Media and Engagement Strategy** Sponsored by iPublish Media Solutions

This award recognizes the most successful and creative plans for leveraging social media to expand audience and heighten engagement. Judges will look for exciting and new approaches to using platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, Nextdoor, TikTok, and others, that inspire audiences to connect with media and their local community. Judges will also want to see how analytics tools, data, and personnel were used to support the initiative. The entry can detail an overarching strategy or a specific initiative. Entry should clearly state the strategy and implementation, and provide examples of work with supporting metrics. Tell us how this positively impacted social media efforts and how they aligned with company goals. Click here to submit an entry into this category.

Best Digital Initiative/Product Development* 

Launching a new digital initiative takes time and resources, so this award showcases the best use of both that drove positive results. This broad category can encompass a digital initiative launched in the last year, such as OTT, podcasting, virtual reality, insight selling, custom CMS, or something new and emerging. Judges will look at how the initiative was planned, executed, and whether company goals were met due to the initiative. The entry should include details on strategy, revenue, results, and plans to grow or duplicate the initiative. Click here to submit an entry into this category.

Best Digital Audience Growth Strategy** Sponsored by Lineup

This award recognizes sites that are developing high-quality content, processes, and user experiences that have proven to increase overall audience. Judges will look for innovative and successful plans, such as new products, investments, or tools, executed in the last year. The entry should explain how audience-growth strategies on numerous platforms are working, and the KPIs being used to help evolve and drive those strategies. Click here to submit an entry into this category.

Best Digital News Project* Sponsored by TownNews

The award for best digital news project will be given to entries that display captivating, innovative, and intentional storytelling. This can be a single piece, a collection, or an ongoing series. Did you take an investigative story, a big project, or a continuing topic and tell the story as no one else could? Did you build a digital experience that was enjoyable to read and interactive? Judges will look for cohesion and strong storytelling and how the project helps meet company business goals. This category looks to recognize journalism that is deep but also designed thoughtfully. Click here to submit an entry into this category.

Best Consumer Revenue Strategy** Sponsored by Marketron

This award recognizes exceptional strategy and execution of a new consumer revenue initiative. This can include digital subscriptions, membership, e-commerce, targeted marketing, data mining, and other local media revenue opportunities. Judges will look for how companies have used new tools, data, or creative means to create new revenue. The organizations that are most innovative and aggressive in their approaches will be recognized. The entry should explain the strategy behind the initiative, how it was implemented, and measured, as well as the goals and results. Discuss the cultural and technological advancements you made as part of your approach. Click here to submit an entry into this category.

Best Contest and/or Promotion* Sponsored by Second Street

This award will recognize a contest or promotion that was above and beyond expectations. The entry should include a link to the promotion and detailed information on results, including revenue and ROI for the advertiser. Be sure to include anything else that makes this stand out – did you attach an event to it, for example? Did the experience open the door to other opportunities? The more detail, the better. Judges will be looking for creativity across media, engagement with the community, and fantastic results. Click here to submit an entry into this category.

Best Branded Content Strategy* Sponsored by

Branded content is a powerful way to combine what publishers and local newsrooms do best: storytelling and helping businesses grow. This award showcases the very best in branded content initiatives. Judges will look for content creativity, revenue impact, advertiser success stories, and growth potential for your initiative. The entry should include links to examples from your strategy, along with results in terms of revenue for your organization and client success stories. There is a limit of two entries per site.  Click here to submit an entry into this category.

Best R&D Partner 

Media companies, this is your chance to share an R&D company/industry provider that helped drive new digital revenue and results for your company: the more detail, the better. Judges will be looking to reward partners that have been vital in helping local media companies drive new digital revenue or create efficiencies in their operations. The entry should also address how the R&D partner went above and beyond in training, installation, troubleshooting, and support. The entry should specifically explain how tools an R&D partner provided helped you achieve a goal. Click here to nominate an R&D partner today.

Digital Innovators of the Year 

  • News: content and audience Sponsored by ppi
    • This digital media industry leader will be focused on the content side of the business. They should be a high achiever in audience development and have the results to back it up. A letter from the top news executive in the company or CEO should include examples of their work and results. Click here to nominate someone today.
  • Revenue/Strategy: Sponsored by Admiral
    • We are looking for a digital media rock star delivering fantastic results for their company by pioneering new concepts and experimenting in new and creative ways. This award is focused on digital revenue growth. A letter from the CEO or a senior-level executive should make a case for why this person is the most deserving digital media executive in North America. Click here to nominate someone today.
  • Sales/Advertising/Marketing: Sponsored by AdmallLogo for AdMall, Powered by SalesFuel
    • We are looking for a sales and marketing local media leader who has helped lead sales and/or marketing teams to evolve and become better post-COVID. A letter from the CEO or a senior-level executive should make a case for why this person is the most deserving sales/marketing/advertising executive in North America. Click here to nominate someone today.

NEW categories for 2020:

Google News InitiativeBest Service to Diverse Audiences Sponsored by Google News Initiative

This award recognizes a news organization for excellence in serving underrepresented audiences and communities of color. Examples of service journalism can include individual reporting projects, a series of reports, a product or service that specifically serves underrepresented communities, or an ongoing demonstrated commitment to representing diverse voices. Click here to submit an entry into this category.

Best Philanthropy Journalism and/or Fundraising Strategy*

Funding important local reporting through philanthropy and fundraising is emerging as an additional pillar to support journalism. This award seeks to highlight creative, effective fundraising efforts that have impacted local publishers’ ability to fund journalism’s critical work. Judges will consider the campaign’s creativity, amount raised, and how those funds were invested in journalism and community impact. Click here to submit an entry into this category.

Google News InitiativeBest COVID-19 Local Community Coverage* Sponsored by Google News Initiative

The pandemic’s impact on local communities and the pressing need to get important information into community members’ hands enabled publishers to connect with their audiences in new ways.  This award will honor the best local coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak by looking at multiple examples of community-focused content bringing the reality of COVID-19 to a local area. Please include links to archived stories and any other relevant examples of how your publication told these stories in ways that specifically connected with your local audience.  Videos, email newsletters, social posts, and more can all be included in this category. Click here to submit an entry into this category.

Best Virtual Event**

Just when media companies started to get great at live events, the pandemic forced everyone to pivot again and learn how to take those events online.  We’re looking for the best single example of a virtual event to take home this award. We want to know all about it; from planning to ticket sales to revenue earned, and how successful this event was for your brand.  Please include a link to the archived audio or video of the event itself, along with examples of marketing material, post-event content, and anything else which you believe made your event the best one this year. Click here to submit an entry into this category.

Letterhead from WhereBy.UsBest Local Newsletter / Email Strategy* Sponsored by Letterhead/WhereBy.Us

While the death of email has been long-predicted, it’s turned into one of the most significant growth areas for many publishers, bringing with it new engagement opportunities and ways to bring in additional revenue. This award will honor the best strategies related to email campaigns designed to connect local news consumers with content right in their inboxes. Submissions should include examples of emails sent (ideally, a link to the archived web version), call-to-action signups, and ongoing promotion, along with any metrics or revenue numbers that show success in critical areas. Click here to submit an entry into this category.

*Categories will be based on the size of the website: 250,000 monthly unique visitors and less; 250,001 – 750,000 and over 750,000. This should be calculated as follows: average monthly unique visitors over the previous 12-month period (November 2019 – October 2020) using Google Analytics or any other acceptable analytics platform.

**Categories will be based on company size: small-medium companies (15 or fewer media brands such as TV stations or newspapers) and large media companies (more than 15 media brands such as TV stations or newspapers).

Interested in sponsoring a category?
Check out the the sponsorship package here and contact for more information.

View last year’s contest winners here.

Meet our 2020 Digital Innovation Awards sponsors.