For 13 years, I've spent my Januarys to Mays crisscrossing the northern suburbs of NYC, visiting more than 60 high school musicals a year. I set out to cover the high-school musical the way most news outlets cover high-school sports.
I was at rehearsals to talk shop with Valjeans and Fraulein Marias. The coverage -- interviews, photos, and videos -- found its way into print, to Instagram and its own Facebook group.
I convened a musicals panel, dozens of kids from across the region, to guide my coverage. A panel comment inspired me to commission video "shout-outs" from one cast to another, a wildly popular feature.
It's community through journalism.
The season culminates in The Metro Awards, the high-school equivalent of The Tonys.
We livestreamed the Metro nominations, drawing thousands to our website and sparked viewing parties, which we covered in social media during the webcast. (Paninis were popular.) It became an event weeks before the actual event.
I convinced my bosses to leverage the paper's power to secure a proper home for the awards, and to purchase the trophies.
As media sponsor, we were there on the "blue carpet" as I interviewed well-dressed nominees. Every step of the process built audience and brand loyalty.
It was an all-out campaign, from January to June.
My role was to interview, to coalesce constituencies, to troubleshoot, to adjust and improvise as troubles presented themselves.