Local Media Digital Innovation Awards

This contest recognizes the best in local digital media in 16 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. 

It is FREE for local media companies to enter the contest thanks to our supporting sponsors.


Best Local Website

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. Submit your entry here.

Best Social Media Engagement Strategy, Sponsored by Social News Desk

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. Submit your entry here.

NEW CATEGORY: Best Audience Listening Strategy

This award recognizes the collective efforts of a newsroom to create a strategy around listening to audiences and what changes were made to newsroom strategy as a result of those listening efforts. This strategy could be a new product or tool meant to gather audience input, a reader survey, an event series, or some other content type focused on listening. Judges will look at how involved the audience was in the project, the type of input the newsroom received, and how the newsroom acted on. The entry should include links to the project, the amount of input from the audience, and how the newsroom incorporated that feedback. Submit your entry here.

Best Product Initiative

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 public-facing or internal digital initiative launched in the last year, such as streaming/OTT/CTV, 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 because of the initiative. The entry should include details on strategy, revenue, results, and plans to grow or duplicate the initiative. Submit your entry here.

Best Digital News Project 

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 journalism 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. Submit your entry here.

Best Reader Revenue Strategy, Sponsored by BlueLena

This award recognizes exceptional strategy and execution of a new consumer revenue initiative. This can include digital subscriptions, membership, e-commerce, targeted marketing, 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. Submit your entry here.

Best Contest and/or Promotion, Sponsored by Upland

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. Submit your entry here.

Best Branded Content Strategy 

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 outlet. Submimt your entry here.

Best Philanthropy Journalism and/or Fundraising Campaign

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. Submit your entry here.

Best COVID-19 Local Community Coverage

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. Submit your entry here.

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. Submit your entry here.

Best Local Newsletter / Email Strategy, Sponsored by Social News Desk

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. Submit your entry here.

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. Submit your entry here.

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. Submit your nomination here.

Revenue/Strategy, Sponsored by Adcellerant 

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. Submit your nomination here.

Sales/Advertising, Sponsored by Admall

Logo for AdMall, Powered by SalesFuel

This award will spotlight ways sales and/or marketing teams have evolved and become better. This individual has showcased innovation, resilience and significant achievements in sales or advertising – with the numbers to back it up. Submit your nomination here.

This contest is now closed. 

Click here to learn more about our contest sponsors. Interested in sponsoring? Contact Lindsey.Estes@localmedia.org for more information.