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Category Archives: New Media

The Times-News is all a-Twitter

In a simpler time, a reporter used his God-given inquiry skills, patience and shoe leather, to get the story and get it written and published. On a breaking story, they might call the bulletin into the copy desk, like Clark Gable in “It Happened One Night” and scores of other newspaper movies.

Fast forward to the early 21st century, and waiting to get the story up on the paper’s website is now not soon enough. We can get the gist of the reporter’s beat in 140 characters through Twitter.

Recently, the Erie Times-News encouraged it’s rank and file reporters to begin using Twitter to build another connection to readers and get the story out faster. On Sunday, Managing Editor Pat Howard pointed out how Twitter was changing the routine for the paper’s news hounds:

It’s hard to grasp how Twitter flows until you’ve immersed yourself in it, but under the right circumstances words and images can spread far and fast. Erie Times-News reporter Erica Erwin and photographer Greg Wohlford got a taste of that at the end of the week when Erwin linked to their story about Samantha, the aged, lonely gorilla at the Erie Zoo whose new buddy is a bunny rabbit.

Last I heard (from Erwin on Twitter), it had reached an audience in at least 10 countries as people amused or touched by it passed it along. Last I saw the story, it came back to me on Twitter from Slate Magazine, which passed along a Washington Post item that carried an Associated Press version that cited and included a link to the original Erie Times-News/GoErie.com report.

Got it? That gorilla gets around.

Non-profits go social for Erie Gives Day

On Tuesday (8/2), over 230 Erie area nonprofits get to flex the power of their donor networks on the first ever Erie Gives Day.

This special day is sponsored by the Erie Community Foundation who is putting up $75,000, and GE Transportation is adding another $25,000 to do a partial and proportional match to what an area NPO raises in 12 hours Tuesday:

Erie Gives, which will take place on Tuesday, August 2nd from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., is an opportunity for you to make ONLINE gifts to your favorite nonprofits. In turn, The Erie Community Foundation will match a percentage of each donation that you make…The more donations made to a nonprofit, the more matching funds that nonprofit will receive from The Erie Community Foundation.

The minimum gift is $25, which is a perfect starting point for someone, especially a young person, to give to charity. This isn’t lost on the charities both big and small, who are engaging their networks through traditional advertising, mass mailings, e-mail blasts and Twitter and Facebook, to push for gifts. The Non-Profit Partnership even gave it’s members tutorials on how to launch a Facebook page or to get going with Twitter.

There are big hopes for this unique community-wide fundraiser. If the non-profits together can raise $100,000, they will receive a dollar for dollar match, and that will make a huge impact.

You can watch how things are going all day long live by following @eriegives on Twitter. And if you make a donation, tell your friends about it on your Facebook and Twitter page as an encouragement for others to get involved.

Can a Facebook group ‘Save the Hassam’?

The social media monolith Facebook has been used not only to catch up with high school friends, or share vacation pictures. It’s being used to mourn the victims of tragic accidents, gather cohorts of radio personalities, help cure cancer, and now to save a priceless piece of art.

"Summer Afternoon, Isles of Shoals" - Frederick Childe Hassam

On Sunday afternoon, WYNE/North East’s self-described “one-man-band” Dan Geary began a Facebook group “Save the HASSAM !!!”, pulling people together to stop the proposed sale of “Summer Afternoon, Isles of Shoals” by Frederick Childe Hassam, which is owned by the Erie County Public Library and is on display on the second floor of the Blasco Library adjacent to the Heritage Room.

Geary in his first post on the FB group explains the backstory:

This page has been created to make the Facebook community aware of a pending action that will change the rich art history of Erie County….forever. The County Executive has recommended that the painting “Summer Afternoon, Isle of Shoals” by Frederick Childe Hassam be offered for auction and be replaced with a print.The piece was “gifted” to the Erie Community by the original Erie Art Club 106 years ago.It was purchased in 1904 for $1,000.00 and the funds were secured by selling 10 cent tickets to art shows in Erie.The effort was spearheaded by Lovisa Card-Catlin. The painting has hung for 5 generations and survived @ World Wars, the Great depression, Epidemics, the Millcreek Flood and countless government financial crises. Please contact your County Executive Barry Grossman and members of County Council and express your opposition to this band aid auction. Hurry County Council is scheduled to vote to allow this at their August 2nd meeting. Do it now before it’s going….going….GONE..FOREVE​R.

In under four days, the group has expanded to over 550 members, with a petition drive at local galleries and at Thursday night’s Downtown Block Party, with the goal of 999 signatures to be presented to County Council at their meeting August 2nd in Corry.

What’s interesting about this particular group is that it is made of not just elite art benefactors, but a strong cross-section of the Erie populace. Chalk that up to the dynamic personality of Geary, who is Erie’s quintessential Master of Ceremonies, and for decades has brought our far-flung community together, spinning great tunes and sharing good humor.

So, can the power of social media deflect the strong current of expediency and visions of dollar signs? Only your County Council men and women can answer that.

The Jennings Rejoin the South

The Jennings Secede

Screen grab for The Jennings Secede from the South, Oct. 2009

Four years ago, a newly-married young couple left their roots in the Deep South to travel to a place only known by its dot on the map on the Weather Channel getting plastered each winter by lake effect snow. These Baylor grads were coming to Erie, PA for medical school, and Camille Jennings started a blog to chronicle their time in Erie for family and friends such a distance away.

Little did she know that in the process that through her blog, “The Jennings Secede From the South,” thousands of readers from her new town and beyond would be delighted by her charm, big heart, and sharp wit. Through “The Jennings Secede,” Camille shined the spotlight on Erie’s goodness and weirdness, while she and her husband Adam lived life; meeting new friends, first big snow storm, eventually pregnancy and having two boys filling their home with joy.

Erie Observer authors to ignite ‘rich conversation’

I’ve recently hooked up with ErieBlogs.com’s Mike Richwalsky and his business partner Richard Zmijewski, along with Peter Panepento of GlobalErie.com to help facilitate access for Erie businesses to advertise their wares to the thousands of readers our collective blogs touch.

The first effort of this network is the Erie Observer, a weekly e-mail news blast that lands in your inbox on Wednesdays. The first arrived last week, and readers are getting excited. Mike and Peter agreed to give our P&T community the inside scoop on this new venture:

P&T: The idea of the Erie Observer had to come from somewhere…how did the concept come to life?

Peter: This is something I’ve been wanting to do ever since we started GlobalErie three years ago. I believe that you can’t build a good online community with just a blog or a Web site. You need to be able to reach people in a number of ways — online, through e-mail, and through social networks. And e-mail has been a missing piece for us — largely because I haven’t had the time myself to get this off the ground. The idea of being able to do Erie Observer in partnership with ErieBlogs means we can build a much richer conversation since we’ll be engaging people from both of our audiences. We can pull in people who have relationships with both Web sites and, if we do it well, we can get them to interact more on both sites. It’s about strength in numbers. And it’s also about being able to make the most from limited resources. Neither I, nor Mike and Richard from ErieBlogs, do this full time. So if we can share the load, we can accomplish more.

P&T: How has been the reaction to the Erie Observer since the launch last week?

Mike: Good, so far. We’ve had good reactions via email, a good number of Twitter followers and Facebook fans. Maybe the most important metric is that more people signed up after we sent out the first issue, which means word is spreading. I think it helped for people to get a taste of what we want to do before they subscribed. Now that they’ve seen the first issue, they know what to expect and will sign up.

Blue Streak’s last hill for Pepsi Refresh win

Pepsi Refresh

Pepsi Refresh Project

I can’t imagine that other local projects across the country get the type of local media attention that Conneaut Lake Park and the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation before them have received in their quests for Pepsi Refresh votes and grants.

A quick Google of “blue streak pepsi” found articles from all over the region from blogs and news sites including Youngstown and Pittsburgh as well as Erie and Meadville. ErieBlogs.com has been running a daily vote reminder, and the TV stations in town mention the CLP’s efforts to win a Refresh grant very frequently.

Going into the last weekend of voting, the supporters of the renovation of the classic wooden coaster the Blue Streak have made the cause continue to be #1 in the nation for the $50,000 category. They are using not only local media, but strong social media efforts such as a Facebook page to fuel the fire.

Being in the top position attracts voters seeking votes for their own proposals, but also a few detractors. However the rancor is self-policed and all in all, support is strong and positive.

To help the Blue Streak successfully sweep into the station and finish the voting competition well, you can go here. Remember you press “Vote For This Idea,” sign in through Facebook or your e-mail address, then press “Vote For This Idea” again.

Erie media helps to refresh Blue Streak

Blue Streak

Blue Streak - Conneaut Lake Park

To get $250,000 for the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation, it took a huge community-wide effort fueled by enthusiastic support by Erie’s traditional and new media.

After a two-month break from voting, it looks like the area is ready to get behind another “idea” for the Pepsi Refresh project: the relaunching of the classic Blue Streak roller coaster at Conneaut Lake Park in Crawford County. The trustees of the park have entered the coaster, built in 1938,  in the competition for a $50,000 award this month, with the goals of:

•Raise funds to proceed with restoration
•Replace timbers, realign track, restore trains
•Reopen coaster
•Support local economy by attracting more visitors to the area.