GREAT IDEAS

An Easter Egg Hunt through the classifieds

North Carolina paper’s contest draws readers to the section

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It's that time of year, when readers of the twice-weekly News Reporter in Whiteville, N.C., start on the annual classifieds Easter Egg Hunt.

Friday is the kickoff for this year's hunt. A small Easter egg graphic may appear between classified ads or inside classified ads, or on top of a larger ad on the pages published Tuesdays and Fridays prior to Easter. Readers are asked to find all the eggs, keep count and enter the total number in a contest.

Those who come up with the correct number are entered in a sweepstakes drawing for three prizes. First prize last year was a photo shoot for the family. This year, prizes include a $50 gas card, a subscription to the paper and something that wasn't "locked down yet," but will be by Friday, according to Classifieds Manager Hanne Richards. Prize sponsors are promoted in the contest.

"We've been doing it for eight years. We're always looking for new ways of drawing people specifically to the classifieds. Nowadays when everybody has their own little free classified on Facebook and what-have-you, we've just got to try to come up with something to draw them in," Richards said.

The promotional material for the contest includes an important disclaimer: Eggs found inside the ads for the egg hunt itself do not count. Promos touting the hunt appear on the front page and on the website.

The News Reporter uses the contest platform provider Second Street. Readers may enter online or on a printed form found in the classified header. Classified pages are also published on the paper's website, www.NRColumbus.com. (Whiteville is located in Columbus County about 50 miles west of Wilmington, N.C.)

"We discovered that people were actually really, really interested in it," Richards said. More than 80 people entered the contest last year. The News Reporter circulates about 9,000.

An Easter Egg Hunt has worked best for the paper, Richards said. The classifieds department also tried a Fourth of July contest using flags instead of eggs but had less success.

Richards theorizes that the Easter Egg Hunt is more popular because there's not much going on in the farming community at this time of year and the weather is still not the best. The possibility of holding a pumpkin hunt around Thanksgiving has been discussed but discarded. "We don't want to run it into the ground," she said.

If an advertiser wants to insert an egg to draw more attention to a single classified, it will cost a $1 day. The most eggs ever on a single page were 14, Richards said. The promotion isn't a revenue generator but rather is intended to draw readers to the classifieds section.

"It's more like drawing people, making people aware again that classifieds are still here for the ones who have gotten used to doing all the free ones online."

For more information, reach Hanne Richards at hannerichards@nrcolumbus.com.


Jane Nicholes

Jane Nicholes, a regular contributor to the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association's eBulletin, is a freelance writer and editor based in coastal Alabama. She is an award-winning veteran of more than 30 years in the newspaper business. Reach her at jbnicholes@att.net.

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