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Calendar success stories

Kevin M. Cox 5 months ago in BLOX CMS updated by David Rouse 2 months ago 10

I'm looking for some examples and experiences from other papers who are successfully utilizing (or gave up on) the BLOX calendar feature of their sites.

Ours is currently empty: https://www.galvnews.com/calendar/

But we're looking to see how hard it would be to jump start it and then of course what opportunities there would be to monetize it.


I'd appreciate any thoughts, examples and/or experiences that y'all are willing to share.


Thanks!

+1

We ended up keeping our Tockify calendar because the TownNews calendar is a bear for readers to use and requires registration. We also don't want to get stuck inputting events for them.


You can embed Tockify on any page or in individual articles. We use it for community events for free but sell spots to real estate agents and brokers on our Open House Calendar version. 

+1

Ours is relatively well used, https://www.newsargus.com/calendar/ but we haven't had but one person use the up-charge option to promote an event (in a bit under a year). We had a calendar on another CMS for a long time, so I think our readers were used to using us as a service. We do spend the space to have a little month calendar on each page with a blox asking folks to submit events, maybe that helps?

A few thoughts I have had on this subject:

* It would be really neat to have a way to roundtrip events between web to print. If editors could easily dump print events into the CMS, and then get dumps from the CMS for print, that could help jump-start things and potentially lower the number of emails and faxes for events for the print side. Admittedly, I'm not sure what a UI would look like for this. The current way to add an event through the CMS is probably too cumbersome to work for an editorial staff.

* Getting the sales team on board to help promote the up-charge aspects of the calendar. Perhaps by giving some away for special customers or as part of packages. Understandably, most sales teams have a lot of stuff to sell these days and it can be hard to get them excited about something that doesn't really add to their commissions.

+3

Kevin, here's what we have currently: https://www.nuvo.net/calendar/

(and here's a redesign I've been playing around with: https://www.nuvo.net/test/calendar/ )

I would say out of all features in Blox, we've had the most overall / organic success with the Calendar, but it definitely took some time to establish. A little over a year ago we barely had five listings for a given week. I started having an intern scour local music and arts venues for two hours a day, and also edit/improve imported listings via the Jobs function from a local Arts Council calendar (a little tip with that, make sure your imported listings are .ics files and not .ical files - avoids a huge headache with fields not matching). After a few weeks, we saw a dramatic increase in user submitted events. Eventually I had my intern focus more on approving /editing submitted listings and photos (users still can't section tag their event themselves, it will be tagged to just "/calendar" by default and you'll have to assign it to calendar/music" etc. if you want). Once we started getting some Featured Event upsells rolling in and displayed on the homepage, that increased user awareness of the calendar section even further. You can set the pricing options for that however you want, charging by day or week or whatever.

Currently, I spend about half an hour each morning approving listings (you won't want auto-publish on until TN figures out how to combat SEO spammers a little better) and the upsells pretty much run themselves, once the listings are approved. I still have some improvement requests here and there, but they're mostly minor things. Definitely nothing frustrating enough to start looking into third-party options, in my opinion.

Hope this helps!

+1

A few years ago I put some effort into getting users to use the calendar and never could get the other employees out of their silos long enough to buy in.

For example - enhancing web banner advertising with calendar events. Advertising saw the ability for users to create their own events for free as a problem not an opportunity. Likewise our we run a weekly calendar of events as editorial content in the paper. However the people that compile that saw doing the online calendar as "additional work" and the didn't want people submitting events to use the online calendar instead of emailing them. Likewise the people emailing events in were doing a single mass email to multiple outlets (radio, city gov, chamber, etc) and didn't want to do something specific just for us.

We've had public calendars on our site for over 20 years and have always had great buy-in from the community.

And if someone emails to our main newsroom address with an event to post, we just email back the link to submit.

9 times out of 10 we get a new event posted within minutes.

When we rolled out UpSells a couple years ago, we got great response. We created several packages with several price points and outlined the details of all the places they would show and all the benefits of UpSells. 

However, with a recent corporate site template change, most of the locations for promotion of UpSells were taken away from us which reduced the overall visibility of UpSell events......so we discontinued it altogether. Sad because it just ran on autopilot (auto-approve on upsells AFTER the calendar event was approved) and one point we were getting upwards of 4-5 new paid UpSells almost every day. 

That's all I have to offer. But everyone should be doing UpSells if you have an online calendar. Build blocks to showcase the events with eye-catching features. Show that block on the right-rail of every page on your site...and then another that sits at the top of the main Calendar page and Entertainment page if you have one. Then push a newsletter out and include only UpSell events. Once it takes hold, just sit back and rack in the cash!

A few quick ideas:

- We can do import jobs based on different types of feeds, most successfully ical. So if there are other local calendars, from the Chamber of Commerce, the local travel bureau, the big hospital, the big concert/theater place... you could just have those imported to fill out your calendar.

- Do community outreach to get those same places above to input their own events, or provide ical exports. As part of the training, show them that they can use calendar upsells to promote their events. Union-bulletin.com is an example of a site that has lots of event upsells on their front page.

- Once events are entered into the system, you can use BLOX Calendar to export them in a print-friendly format to use in a print publication.

- As someone else mentioned, you can create a weekly calendar newsletter featuring upsold events.

- Create collections of events in "paging" mode - make sure you add a stock photo or image with them - they look great! Here is a test example:

https://flex-showcase.bloxcms.com/community/our-favorite-holiday-events/collection_cbfc5856-aa96-11e6-af6d-6b64c775fbad.html

(Note that I have ads inserted between pages of the featured events! Create a collection each week and feature it on your front page!)

- Create a collection of events in "mapped" mode - again, add photos and locations (or venues from the Business Directory) - and create a great mapped presentation. Here is another test example, which is currently in "beta":

https://flex-showcase.bloxcms.com/where-to-find-fun-this-weekend/collection_f66fddd0-a2cb-11e9-b367-6b2729634368.html?ddddwwss

Note: If you like the mapped presentation, above (also useful for businesses... like a list of the best restaurants....here is an example of that: https://flex-showcase.bloxcms.com/news/local/mapped-event-sponsors/collection_3c279f52-76d2-11e7-9017-03f5e1e153ad.html) and are interested in trying it on your site, let us know. Enabling this test will convert all of your mapped presentations to the new experimental mode. Submit a CRM ticket and ask them to send it to me or Doug Green for the mapped presentation experiment. Thanks!

Thanks, I may not have noticed the "Export" button. Although for customers using both Total CMS and Blox, I think it would be neat to have a way to push a submitted calendar item back to TCMS.

I hope I didn't come across as not liking the calendar tools, I do, it has just been difficult to get sales to push the product when those folks have so much other stuff to try and sell already.

David:

We use the export option to get our calendar listings into our print edition several times a week. It's a tad clunky, but works pretty well considering the amount of content you're pushing from one CMS to another.

We created some custom export templates depending on how we wanted the style of the listings, then we choose a date range and calendar sections in BLOX and export the events. We then create an article asset in TCMS, paste in the exported listing (it exports as a text file) and as long as you don't "paste as plain text," the styles are retained.

We run a daily calendar of events seven days a week plus a listing of Support Groups on Saturdays and entertainment events on Thursdays. We've been on the system for over a year and a half and have experienced minimal issues using the export to reverse publish the calendar events for print.

I'd be happy to go into more detail about how our process works if you'd like to know more.

Dave

Thanks, I'll have to try that out. Thanks for the offer to assist.