Before starting this project I hadn’t really thought about heroes in depth. I accepted that they existed for people and had a few heroes myself but I had not truly examined their importance to society. Now, however, I feel better prepared to answer the question, “Who is your hero?”
I loved this topic. It was a concept everyone was familiar with, but there are so many underlying factors to explore that we had the chance to have some fun with the work. Each person working on the project was able to select an area of interest to focus on and in time those topics became an area of expertise for each of us. Now I hear or see the word hero, and I’m instantly hooked and want to know more.
After doing my own research I learned how academics define the term. I also truly came to understand my own definition of a hero, and this is probably the most rewarding thing to come of this project. We were able to educate the public on heroes and at the same time learn more about who we are individually.
My favorite assignment was definitely the personal hero video. I started it multiple times before I really understood what message I wanted to get across with my video. I loved that for once we were able to put a piece of ourselves into our work. In journalism we are asked to remain objective, but it was fun to tell our personal story. Seeing my dad’s reaction to the video made all the hard work worth it in the end.
As fun as it was to add a personal spin, I wish we had more time to engage with the public too. Social media is now an important part of all publications and businesses and I would have liked to gain more experience working on developing one specific site for this project. That being said I did still learn some important aspects of reader engagement.
First, I think that companies need to remember to keep it simple. Don’t try and engage readers on topics that only a few people will respond to like a neighborhood feud with a nearby business. Try to involve readers on stories that everyone in the community is aware of and can give an intelligent answer on.
Second, you want readers to feel comfortable expressing their opinion with confidence, and so I feel it is best to ask them to participate in stories that are directly related to their lives. For our project, speaking with people on the street they all had a hero – it took them time to figure out what they wanted to say but they all had an answer. Adding that personal touch adds interest for the reader and they are more willing to get involved. People’s faces lit up when we said the project was about heroes, and they were curious what role they could play.
Finally, it is important to have fun when seeking reader engagement. There are so many different social media sites that it is easy to get bogged down and do the same thing for each site – but that doesn’t work. Have fun and develop a different identity for each site based on researched methods of the site. Know the audience for that particular platform and find new, creative ways to get those members involved. The more fun you have with it, the more your readers will be drawn in.