How we came up with Editorial Battles and made journalists chase for acorns
STORY OF THE FIRST CONTEST
We came up with the Editorial Battles to motivate journalists of our websites to learn, master new formats, go out of their way and earn more.

Every week we handed out assignments. The participants received thawab, aka acorns, for fulfilled tasks. Eventually, they could change acorns for prizes.

Five editorial teams joined the first Battle. Working routine turned into a game.
We came up with the Editorial Battles to motivate journalists of our websites to learn, master new formats, go out of their way and earn more.

Every week we handed out assignments. The participants received thawab, aka acorns, for fulfilled tasks. Eventually, they could change acorns for prizes.
Participants
Periodicals from Popasnaya, Volnovakha, Troyitske, Svatove and Toretsk.

These towns are district centers in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, their websites were launched in summer 2018 with the UCBI support.
Acorns
16 weeks, 72 tasks and 4 290 acorns gained for the fulfillment of tasks.

Why acorns? Because the Squirrel is a mascot of the ABO Local Media Development Agency. It is violet and venturous, and acorns are the only thing she loves more than the quality local journalism.
Prizes
16 weeks, 72 tasks and 4 290 acorns gained for the fulfillment of tasks.

Why acorns? Because the Squirrel is a mascot of the ABO Local Media Development Agency. It is violet and venturous, and acorns are the only thing she loves more than the quality local journalism.

How it works
How one gets acorns
Every week the outlets had four tasks. An outlet could have 20, 15, 10 or 5 acorns for each of the tasks depending on its complexity. If you fulfill all, you get 50.
ЗThe tasks stimulated the major 'sets of muscles' of a team: skills in content production and monetization.
Every fortnight they could win 50 bonus points for a material on an unhackneyed topic that a team would hardly address on its own. For example, about a local weirdo or a taboo in the community.
At the end of the month, we gave additional points for daily website updates, min. 10% traffic growth and republications of materials by other resources.
Examples of tasks
The tasks became more complex gradually
20 acorns
⚫️ to develop a financial plan for the next year

⚫️ to collect data on the audience, to develop commercial offers and to make a media kit

⚫️ to initiate a social endeavor in the town
15 acorns
⚫️ to add 25 potential ad customers to the database

⚫️ to sell any ad banner

⚫️ to publish a video story about a town-changing person
10 acorns
⚫️ to come up with three topics for experimental articles

⚫️ to come up with three regular sections for social media

⚫️ to increase the number of fb-page subscribers by 150 users
5 acorns
⚫️ to make an online poll on Playbuzz

⚫️ to find a news-worthy detail in open registers and to write about it

⚫️ to make a database of local people to be followed on social media
Topics of the month
Going beyond the district level
5 materials on week days and 3 on weekend
Major task of the Battle
A few month after the competition start, the outlets got the Battle's direst task: to update website with at least 5 materials daily instead of regular 1-3.

They responded with shock, anger, non-acceptance, excuses about the lack of time and newsworthy issues in small towns.
Eventually, they set to work and (lo and behold) delivered.

The content growth increased the audience, views and engagement on the websites. The things that have potential in monetization.
FIRST MONTH PERFORMANCE:

⬆️ Svatove:
+123% views, +60% users, +99,5% sessions

⬆️ Troyitske:
+117% views, +72% users, +110% sessions

⬆️ Popasnaya:
+110% views, +103% users, +115% sessions

⬆️ Volnovakha:
+42% views, +15,5% users, +38% sessions

⬆️ Toretsk:
+28,5% views, +35,8% sessions, the number of users keeps the same
Money gained
Revenues from the ads sold within the Battle
6 000 UAH
Popasnaya

5 000 UAH
Volnovakha
4 800 UAH
Svatove
2 000 UAH
Troyitske
Winners and prizes
Winner is the Popasnaya.City team. They gained 1 268 acorns and exchanged them for a tablet and a toy crown. And a huge coloring poster and pizza for change.

Svatove.City was the second best, they also had a tablet.

The Volnovakha team is the third best, with a dinner at a restaurant on the Squirrel.

Troyitske came forth. They also had a dinner at a restaurant.

The Toretsk team hardly participated in the Battle and merited the last place. Unfortunately.

What editors-in-chief say
In a nutshell: they liked it

Iaroslav Nesterenko
Editor-in-Chief, Popasnaya.City
When the battle started, our team thought it was a chore. But I thought it was a source of inspiration. Eventually, the journalists changed their idea. The battles taught us to work faster and make clearer weekly plan. Contests incited us to realize interesting ideas. Battles motivated the ad agent. I came to a conclusion that he needed a precise plan. I'm missing the battle a bit. They turned around our team, and helped me as a manager to motivate journalists.
The battles taught to work in a more productive way and to generate ideas. Both for the website promotion and for the content. At the battle start, we performed tasks the last night but then we had better planning. We came to a conclusion: to sell an ad you have to sell it. Not to wait when a customer comes but to search for customers at your own initiative. This seems to be obvious. But it was our discovery in terms of experience.

Olha Naidienova
Editor-in-Chief, Svatove.City

Olha Naidienova
Editor-in-Chief, Svatove.City
The battles taught to work in a more productive way and to generate ideas. Both for the website promotion and for the content. At the battle start, we performed tasks the last night but then we had better planning. We came to a conclusion: to sell an ad you have to sell it. Not to wait when a customer comes but to search for customers at your own initiative. This seems to be obvious. But it was our discovery in terms of experience.

Pavlo Ieshtokin
Editor-in-Chief, Volnovakha.City
The tasks like a promo test, caption video, success story, city professions or contests do not let you dwell on a certain type of materials. We learnt about short formats like a selection, social media overview. About 80% of battle publications could have been hardly produced on our own. It was good to have a mentor there to explain everything. The battle animated our performance by about 50%. However, our regular work was always our priority as we have to follow the outstanding developments and to write promotional articles.
The battles were our weekly adventure. The game excited everybody even those of our staff who didn't deal with the website. Our editor-in-chief and executive secretary also asked about battles and acorns. And helped to cope with the tasks when the journalists were short of time. We would fulfill the tasks even without acorns. But the game made it more exciting. During the battle, we produced a lot of promo materials both in traditional and new for as formats.

Maryna Zhyvotkova
Editor-in-Chief, Troyitske.City

Maryna Zhyvotkova
Editor-in-Chief, Troyitske.City
The battles were our weekly adventure. The game excited everybody even those of our staff who didn't deal with the website. Our editor-in-chief and executive secretary also asked about battles and acorns. And helped to cope with the tasks when the journalists were short of time. We would fulfill the tasks even without acorns. But the game made it more exciting. During the battle, we produced a lot of promo materials both in traditional and new for as formats.
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