New options for the SNO Site Overhaul and Review programs

We hear from our customers often, and one of the things we hear the most is that your want your website to get better.

While the SNO support site, training materials, and videos help you improve your site year round, the request we get most often is for individual feedback. That’s why we’ve developed the SNO Site Review and Site Overhaul programs aimed at helping you improve your SNO website.

SNO Site Review – $100
Our Site Review program gives you an extensive, detailed evaluation by our expert. If your students won’t listen to your suggestions or you’re curious if you’ve been doing the same old stuff on the same-looking site for too long, this option could be for you. From site presentation to content execution to audience engagement, we’ll thoroughly assess how your site is doing, what you’re doing well, and actions you can take to make it even better. After you place an order, our expert will dedicate time to spend digging into your site, keeping a detailed report of observations, which will be submitted to you within a week at the completion of the review.

SNO Site Overhaul – $150
Our Site Overhaul program is designed for those who need a little hands-on help. Whether you’re looking for a major shakeup or a simple facelift, if you want a modern, professional-looking site but there’s just no time to do it yourself or you have and you’re frustrated with what you’ve come up with, this option could be for you. Hand the reins over to our designer, then sit back and relax as we turn your site into what you’ve always wanted. Upon ordering, we’ll listen to any ideas and goals you have, look at the other sites you like, and create a plan, then our designer will contact you with an estimated work timeline. When finished, we’ll deliver a complete report that we can review via web conference to explain how and why everything was done.

SNO Site Overhaul (with Snapshot Options) – $200
With the Design Snapshots tool, you can create and save multiple site layouts and toggle between them as needed. Using it with our Site Overhaul program, we’ll design two options for you, instead of one. So, not only will you have your pick of the litter at the completion of our work, you’ll have an additional layout in your back pocket if you ever want to use it. After your order, you’ll be contacted with an estimated completion date. We’ll review the changes with you via web conference when the work is done.

SNO Site Overhaul (with Logo Design Services) – $300
While receiving all of the hands-on help of a traditional Site Overhaul, this option also allows us to simultaneously address one of the biggest problem areas for design that we don’t touch with any other overhaul type. Many of you often identify your Header as an area of concern, a less than desirable presentation of your brand. We’ll aim to fix that, taking you through our Logo Design and Web Header service, to give you an identity you can be proud of, with a full website overhaul afterward that incorporates the new Header perfectly — a complete reimagining of your site. When the work is done, we’ll connect with you via web conference to review the complete report of changes.

Ready to take your site to the next level? Order your SNO Site Review or Site Overhaul today.

The SNO Report: Growing your online audience

For any publication, whether your online arm is your exclusive means for publication or is in addition to a long-established print product — or for anyone transitioning from one to the other — this is the big question: How do we bring our readers online and grow that base?

Well, if you’re online, simply being there opens your publication up to a much wider audience (all the Googlers and Yahoo-glers of the world), instead of only having the people in the building who have the paper handed to them.

But if that was the only answer, this SNO Report would be awfully short and pointless.

So, you’re trying to get those print readers online, and keep them there? Here are a few ideas:

 

  • Self-advertise in your print edition. Run big, noticeable house ads to tell your readers about your website or, maybe, your mobile app as well. This could also be a place to tell them X date when you’re moving to online-only

  • Tease online exclusives. One way to get print readers onto your site is to offer additional content there, especially interactive content (polls, quizzes) that they’d have a lot of interest in. And when you have to cut a story to fit in print, tease that the full version is running online

  • Spread the word around campus. Talk to your friends. Tell them about the website. Show them how it looks on their phones, since they’re already on it as you’re trying to tell them about it.

  • Share on social media. We think everyone has a Twitter and Facebook account — that includes your staff members and all your readers. So, staff members should be sharing stories on social media, tagging their friends, interacting. By the way, your publication should also have a Twitter and Facebook to do this.

On that last bullet point, yeah, social media is a big part of bringing readers in. But there are only so many ways we can tell you that, and we have a whole SNO Distinguished Sites program badge that outlines more guidelines.

Here’s what some anonymous students and advisers said about their use of social media when they were applying for that badge:

“The more (we) post, the more viewers the site will get, and if the story is something people actually care about, more people will view that story — so look for stories that cover a lot of people’s interests.”

“If we make great content, viewers will stay. If students share their stories, and those who see that share their stories and so forth, then we will garner a larger audience.”

“Since we started posting everyday on social media, especially Twitter, our readership has gone up tremendously and our site has gained more recognition on campus.”

“The staff used to post primarily during homeroom, but have now added other posts throughout the day, especially at the end of school. These are the times students seem to be checking social media most often.”

“Since the majority of our viewers prefer comedy, the students felt most of our movie reviews should be about comedy to increase readership.”

The SNO Report: What’s Happening On Facebook?

This month, Facebook is instituting changes to its News Feed aimed at re-prioritizing the content you see, substituting news stories for more pictures of your aunt Ethel’s pet bird.

Of the news leftover, Facebook is leaving it up to its users to decide what’s trustworthy, what’s garbage and what specifically they want to see. On a larger scale, Facebook is surveying users about whether or not they’re familiar with selected news sources and whether or not they trust those sources, in an effort to weed out the farcical mumbo jumbo that many still feel stained last year’s election. (That isn’t coming out with a Tide to Go pen.) On a smaller scale, users can pick for themselves what news, especially local news, they still want coming to their News Feed to fill the generally-fewer slots for news left in the algorithm.

Because these changes are more about the science of the News Feed and less about its appearance, the change won’t necessarily be noticeable. I won’t notice if Starbucks changes the brand of whip cream topping my Peppermint Mocha, but you bet I noticed that McDonald’s took the two-cheeseburger value meal off the menu. (No, you go rebuild it off the Dollar Menu.)

As a news source, there’s very little you can do to “win” this Facebook news purge. But you should start by educating your readers about what’s going on and what they can do to keep you in their shrinking news cycle.

Here are the instructions:

  • If they haven’t already, they should “Like” and “Follow” your Facebook page

  • While on your Facebook page, they should hover over “Following” to see some advanced options. Of the choices, “See First” should be marked under “In Your News Feed” and “On (Events, Suggested Live Videos)” also checked, under “Notifications”

  • On their home screen, they should click on the ellipses next to the “News Feed” tab and select “Edit Preferences”

  • Then, select the first option, “Prioritize who to see first,” allowing them to pick/star pages (like yours) and specific friends they’re most interested in seeing updates from

  • There are several additional options they might not have seen here before, including unfollowing and refollowing people and pages, as well as discovering new ones

 

This is likely not the last change Facebook will announce about how news is distributed on its platform, nor then will it be final band-aid for you to apply as a news source.

So, try your best to stay informed as all news organizations try to keep themselves on their readers’ radar.

Thanks to Kathy Habiger, adviser to Mill Valley News, for sharing the story by The Kansas City Star that jolted the idea for this report.

If you have ideas for future SNO Report topics, submit them here.

SNO Report: What’s a Contest and Competition Coordinator? And more Distinguished Sites updates

On Liberty High School’s Wingspan staff, there are reporters and photographers, editors and producers, and Samantha O’Brien.

O’Brien’s in the corporate office, so to speak. Though she isn’t on the ground floor turning ideas into fully-realized, published content online, she’s upstairs, as she says, “ensuring the staff is awarded for their hard work.” She’s the Contest and Competition Coordinator.

Within a month of the SNO Distinguished Sites program being open for applications, O’Brien had Wingspan locked in as the year’s first distinguished site.

Delegating a single staff member, whether its a top editor or creating a totally separate position, to navigate awards season on behalf of everyone else… sounds like a pretty good idea, huh?

As O’Brien sees it, she’s an extension of an adviser or whoever would normally be in charge of applying for awards on staffs at other schools.

“My role is pretty easy compared to the others on the staff who bust out articles and updates on the daily, however, I do believe I play a pretty important role,” O’Brien said. “My adviser, Brian Higgins, already takes on so much with newspaper and broadcast, and it’s been nice to be able to help him out by taking over part of entering articles into contests and staying on top of those deadlines.”

It’s no throw away job. O’Brien has to stay plugged in to what’s being published, as she pretty much has free rein over which stories to enter into contests.

Relative to the SNO Distinguished Sites program, it makes applying for Excellence in Writing, Multimedia and Continuous Coverage easy — she knows the criteria and can grab any content that matches.

She’ll keep an eye on the site’s analytics to earn the Audience Engagement badge, and she helps the staff move toward Site and Story Page Excellence — the latter of which she says the staff knowingly plans content for.

“The newspaper staff is already very hard working and impressive to me,” O’Brien said, “and being able to strive towards certain awards and titles pushes them even further.”

It was the staff’s goal to achieve Distinguished Site status as soon as possible. Mission accomplished. Now, Wingspan can carry that title with them throughout the last half of the school year.

SNO Distinguished Sites program is free for all SNO customers and is still in full swing, until April 30. Here’s a bit about how it went during the first couple months:

  • Wingspan is the first, and so far only SNO Distinguished Site of the 2017-2018 school year. Another school in Texas is the next closest to getting there — The Rider Online, of Mansfield Legacy High School, has earned five of six badges needed

  • California is the state with the most schools in play — 6 having earned at least one distinction, with Scot Scoop News, at Carlmont High School, leading (4)

  • 70 total badges have been awarded so far — in 20 states, to 38 schools

Get recognized. Submit now.

The SNO Report: Commemorating an Anniversary

We’re kind of in a celebratory mood lately. It’s the holiday season! Elf is on TV, like, every night!

So, speaking of celebrating, we wondered what publication staffs do to commemorate a special milestone or anniversary, for their school or publication. So, we asked a few of you, because the first thing you did was to make it extremely obvious with a customized header at the top of your websites — which is super cool.

For the staff of Pathfinder, at Parkway West High School (Ballwin, Mo.), the work started this summer, ahead of West’s 50th school year.

Adviser Debra Klevens said her students began interviewing West alumni for a series of “Alumni Stories” they’d publish throughout the year.

“It has been a popular way to engage our audience and get alumni to read our paper as well,” Klevens said.

So far, the Pathfinder staff has published 19 such stories since Sept. 1. Read and follow their ongoing series here.

The Kirkwood Call, at Kirkwood (Mo.) High School, is celebrating an even more personal anniversary — 100 years of publication.

“This means a variety of things, but, most importantly, signifies students using their First Amendment rights to free speech and the press,” said Hannah Cohen, editor-in-chief of The Kirkwood Call. “For 100 years, TKC has continuously executed work that impacts our community both inside and out, from printing a Planned Parenthood ad to light-hearted quizzes telling you which KHS teacher would be your best friend.”

In November, the staff published a “Where Are They Now” issue (viewable as a PDF here), which Cohen likened to Sports Illustrated’s annual issue of the same name, “but instead (of athletes) we did it with KHS alumni and got to hear their stories and journeys beyond KHS,” Cohen said.

They have published 16 stories online. Read the series here.

The staff of BVNWnews, at Blue Valley Northwest High School (Overland Park, Kan.), is preparing for a second-semester push to commemorate the combined 25-year anniversary of the school, newspaper and yearbook.

“We are celebrating 25 years of informing, entertaining and educating,” publications adviser Jim McCrossen said.

So far, the publication’s header image is used to commemorate the anniversary. After the holiday break, McCrossen said the staff will be taking a look back at 25 years of covering the news at Blue Valley Northwest, publishing stories, photos, videos and some of the bigger news items from the archives.

SNO Report: Design Snapshots and Revision History

Our half man, half SNO Support machine Thomas had his shiny, new iPhone X delivered to the office last week. A means for parading it around the office like a championship trophy? Likely.

This got us thinking… Man, we all need new iPhones.

Kidding.

No, Thomas’ PDA for his new iPhone reminded us that people get excited about new toys. And guess what? We have one for you.

That right — we sneakily climbed down your chimney in the middle of the night last week and added it to the newest update of the FLEX theme. It doesn’t have facial recognition software, but it’s really, really cool.

Located under the Appearance options of your dashboard is the new Design Snapshots feature, which is where this story begins.

Now follow along. Let’s say you went to the page right now and clicked that humongous button labeled “Create New Design Snapshot.” That’ll capture what your site looks like — not in a JPEG screenshot kind of way; rather, more like creating a zip file that stores all of the settings you’ve used to create the masterpiece you’re looking at now.

You could then go changing your site around — reorganize the widgets, change their appearance styles, change fonts and backgrounds and more — maybe because you’re planning to do something different for homecoming week or around the weekend that your football team is in the state championship game. (Shoutout to our Minnesota state champs in Owatonna and Eden Prairie.) Then, when you’re done with that special edition look, you might as well snapshot it, too (maybe you’ll win state again — you never know), and then restore your site to the snapshot you created first and voila — you’re back to looking like the everyday site without the headache of having to redo it all.

… I know, right?

Design Snapshots store a copy of all widget configurations, whether on the homepage, a custom category page or mobile homepage, as well as any options on your SNO Design Options page. You can choose to restore only the Widget Control Panel settings, only the SNO Design Options, or both of them all at once. You can create as many snapshots as you’d like, tag them and star them to identify what each one is — your everyday design, a Homecoming week design, a graduation week design… just spitballing here.

But, and this is very important, Design Snapshots are not site backups. They will not restore content. So, if you delete stories, photos or categories, and need to get them back, you still need to contact us for help with that. We do maintain daily backups of your site.

Next, located on your SNO Design Options page is the Design Options Revision History tool, a good ole undo button in the simplest terms.

While the Design Snapshots will let you save and restore packages of options, the Design Options Revision History saves a step-by-step history of changes you make on the SNO Design Options page, and thus lets you take steps backward. Anytime you click “Save All Settings,” your site creates a new revision entry that you can tag and star to better identify steps.

Remember, the Design Options Revision History will only save and restore settings from the SNO Design Options Page, so not any widget configurations or navigation menu settings that have been edited elsewhere on your dashboard.

Just like when you first got your site, play around with the Design Snapshots and Design Options Revision History to get a feel for what’s happening, what it looks like. Come up with a strategy that’ll work best for you for labeling and starring snapshots and revision entries.

We think this’ll be a gamechanger.

Thomas’ iPhone is just kind of whatever.

The SNO Report: Students Covering St. Louis Protests

On the morning of Sept. 15, former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of first-degree murder charges stemming from a 2011 high-speed chase that resulted in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Shades of the 2014 incident in Ferguson, Mo., which also was sparked by a white officer’s acquittal of the death of a black man, the Sept. 15 verdict got the St. Louis community’s blood boiling again — a feeling that penetrated school walls. Student journalists were there to cover what happened next.

These are their stories…

Nick Einig had every reason to be happy. He knew there was a school assembly scheduled the morning of Sept. 15, a Friday, and he knew it was going to be a rewarding one.

De Smet Jesuit High School had reached its fundraising goal, so the school would be granting its students an additional day off as a thank you.

That was the planned announcement. The students were excited for it. It was an “uplifting and happy kind of atmosphere,” Einig said.

Then, the school’s president stood up to speak and a hush came over the crowd. That wasn’t planned, but, behind the scenes, faculty and staff had been monitoring the trial for a while and sensed a verdict was coming down the pike that day. When it did, faculty and staff, like Kevin Berns, adviser to The Mirror, De Smet Jesuit’s student newspaper, took a “very serious” approach to the assembly, compared to the students.

“The whole issue of race relations in St. Louis and even in our school … there’s a growing need to understand a relate to all parts of our school population,” Berns said. “That gave the school an opportunity to take a step back and just talk. We weren’t judging. We weren’t coming to a conclusion. We were trying to be proactive and say, ‘Look, this is what’s going on. Let’s talk about it.’ ”

So, talk they did. The assembly broke out into smaller, grade-level groups for more personal conversations about what happened. Knowing the schedule of those meetings, Berns told Einig where he could possibly go and when.

Einig was reluctant to take the story assignment at first.

“I knew it had to be done, so I took it,” Einig said. “So I stepped into some of these meetings. The kids that were speaking, they talked about how their morning was and it seemed like it really affected them in a bad way. … said things like, ‘My parents were crying in the morning,’ or, ‘I considered not coming to school.’ ”

 From there, Einig pinpointed possible interviewees. He ran into some resistance on approach.
 
“To some students, I was told to screw off, ‘Why are you even doing this?’ and talking to teachers about this and told to go somewhere else,” Einig said.

Even with those who agreed to be interviewed, Einig sensed some uneasiness. It was clear, he said, people were treading lightly, trying to avoid saying something irresponsible.

Einig had the story published online later that same day, with the headline “Students react to verdict in Stockley trial.” And a reactionary story was exactly what his story became. He wanted to write a simple reaction story — here’s what happened, here’s what people are saying about it. It hit. Online, Einig said it had almost six times as many views as the staff’s average.

“It was a topic that people cared about,” Einig said.

Then, the staff talked about what to do next.

“Nick even said, ‘Should we go downtown? Should we get into the protests?’,” Berns said. “We know some other schools around town did. I was a little hesitant to throw guys into that. Some would argue that’s real life, a good experience to do. I didn’t feel like we had a clear enough reason from our school perspective to get involved. The protests were 30 minutes away from us. We didn’t have much connection.”

The feeling was different at Clayton High School.

There, The Globe staff was in a heat of a print deadline week, but reporter Noah Brown and photographer Michael Melinger wanted to go see what was happening downtown.

They drove to the epicenter after school and “walked around for 30 minutes around downtown, when the protests started,” Brown said.

“We get down there and we’re walking and walking,” Melinger said. “We finally walk up there and you’ve got cops on both sides, protests in the middle. It really escalated right from that point. We saw it when it was calm and then when it got out of hand.”

Although Melinger brought his camera along, there was no real plan to cover the protests. But after seeing what was going on, plans had to change.

“We had our issue sketched out and planned,” Brown said.

The Globe adviser Erin Castellano said, “We didn’t really exactly know what they’d come back with. At least photos we’d run in some capacity. I wasn’t sure what or who they’d be able to talk to and what kind of sources they’d get.”

Added Brown: “I went home like, ‘I have no clue how I’m going to write this.’ We did no formal interviews while I was down there — just observed what was going on.”

Noah followed up. He and Michael returned the next day to the Central West End neighborhood, where protests had reached the night before. They went to the mayor’s house, which had been vandalized, and then they started talking to local business owners and other people in the area.

“That’s when we knew there was a story to be told here,” Brown said. “We made space in the paper and published it late Saturday night.”

Brown was a freshman when senior reporters of The Globe staff covered the protests in Ferguson. He learned from watching them do it, and this became his Ferguson.

“These are stories that we can tell,” Brown said. “We talked to Clayton students that were very involved in the protests and even got arrested on one of the nights. This stuff can hit closer to home than we realize.”

The protests in Ferguson, in 2014, became a big part of the reporting done by Richard Pfeifer for The Kirkwood Call at Kirkwood High School.

Pfeifer got a CNN alert on his phone during his second-hour class, which said what the verdict was. No more than a minute later, Pfeifer texted his editors, asking to do the reaction story.

“I remember the rest of that period, I was restless,” Pfeifer said. “I started typing up a brief for it. I didn’t go to my third-hour (class).”

Checking his Instagram that night, Pfeifer saw something going around that called for a student walkout, much like one from 2014.

Pfeifer, who is in his first year on staff, talked to the classmates he knew were leading the walkout and the school’s principal to get his reaction to the students’ plan. On Sept. 18, his story went up online.

“The editors were super involved with trying to coach me how to cover a big thing like this,” Pfeifer said. “This was my first really big, big thing.”

Click to read the students’ stories below:

The SNO Report: Everyone likes an interactive story

Nothing in print is clickable like it can be online. Take your coolest infographic and enhance it online. Make it clickable — interactive.

These are some programs that make it possible:

Infogr.am makes it easy for you to create infographics. (Infogram. Infographics. See the resemblance?) You can create slick, modern visualizations of information using graphs, charts and more. And Infogram makes it easy with user-friendly menus, real-time data presentation and social media integration.

To add an Infogram to your site, paste the embed code, provided after you’ve created it, into a story, page or widget. The easiest way to do it in a story or page is to paste that code from Infogram into either the Video Embed Code area or as a Infographic SNO Story Element. You could also paste the embed code into the body of the story using the Text tab in the upper right corner of your body text box (not the Visual tab).

There’s a WordPress plugin for it here. Check out Infogr.am’s help page for further assistance.

ThingLink is one of the leading platforms for creating interactive images, maps and videos. Users can create multiple “hot spots” on specific parts of an image where you can embed video, audio, links and text, giving your reader an interactive experience.

Take the example from EHS-hub. They took a simple US map and applied hot spots to display where seniors planned to attend college.

To add a ThingLink to your site, paste the embed code, provided after you’ve created it, into a story, page or widget — no different than an Infogram.

There’s a WordPress plugin for it here. Check out ThingLink’s help page for more support.

PlayBuzz allows you to create content in the shape of lists, quizzes, polls, rankings and trivia. It’s what you’re spending so much time on BuzzFeed doing, and it can be a fun way to spice up your everyday lists and polls — just be sure to turn off the “related content” feature to make sure things stay on-topic and appropriate.

Take the example from The Leaf at Sycamore High School in Ohio. They set up a quiz to have readers guess which of their teachers is which in old photos.

You’ll also be given an embed code once you’ve created something on PlayBuzz. Paste that as you did with Infogr.am and ThingLink to display on your site.

There’s a plugin for it here. Find some helpful info from PlayBuzz here.

It’s important to note, too, that these things working correctly on your site is not dependant on you downloading the plugin.

Storify is a social networking service that lets you create stories or timelines that integrate posts from social media, like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. So, these stories would be social media-driven. It can be embedded on your site the same as all the above.

It has a WordPress plugin here. Learn more about the program here.

So, these are four of the big ones. If you’re using something else to create cool, interactive content, tell us about it — share your tips with the SNO community here.

The SNO Report: Going in-depth on graduation gowns, private schools, startups and more: last month on Best of SNO

October was a loaded month for Best of SNO. While the other kids at school were out trick-or-treating, student journalists were going deep on interesting topics. The investigative team at Simpson College looked into the enrollment challenges of private schools. A change in graduation traditions caused a stir, original thinkers started projects of their own, and our Assignment Desk topic, Protests in Sports, yielded interesting returns. These are some of the best stories of October, written and submitted by students just like yours:

Go big or go home: Private colleges fight waning enrollment, Jetstream Staff, Simpson College
“The competition is stiff, and we’re all competing for a shrinking slice of the pie.”

Cam High to change more than 50 years of tradition with graduation gownsChloe Schicker, Adolfo Camarillo High School
“It is not about gender equality as much as it is about being respectful to everybody’s choice to select a gender or not select a gender, and we have students who choose not to.”

Senior creates community service projectEliza Benyaminova, Mayfield High School
“Haircuts for Care provides women and children in shelters with a way to feel confident and empowered.”

Let’s talk business: Student starts fashion companyNeelansh Bute, Marquette High School
“He created his fashion apparel company, Maestro, in October 2016, in the comfort of his own home, while sick with the flu.”

Standing up — or sitting or kneeling — for what’s rightStaff Reports, Watertown High School
“They are standing up for the right that people have died for, but as long as they don’t turn their back, I have no issue with it.”

Read more great stories like these on the Best of SNO high school and collegeeditions.

Assignment Desk: Everyone’s writing articles, and Best of SNO’s here to recognize the good ones. But this year, we want to see who’s doing more than that and still doing great work. Consider this our first push.

This month’s topic: Multimedia. Send us your best video stories and photo galleries, all of which should align with our requirements for the SNO Distinguished Sites Multimedia Badge. (That’s our primary requirement). These should be interesting. Videos shouldn’t be news broadcasts or two minutes of raw footage spliced together. They should be interview based… multiple camera angles… B-roll… you know the drill. Photos shouldn’t be blurry or pixelated, they should have captions and credits. Also, don’t send us any gallery larger than 15 photos.

We know these will be different to submit than a story. For videos, there’s your usual area for the embed code. For galleries, paste your link in the Body Text space. For both, attach a Featured Image and give it a headline and byline.

Any submission without all these elements, will not be considered.

And, as always, categorize it as Assignment Desk in the dropdown menu of the form.

Good luck!

SNO Report: Mark your calendars! SNO Distinguished Sites season is coming

So you’ve had a couple months now to get reacquainted to your online publication.

Your new staffers are trained. You’ve got recent stories up, new photo galleries displayed. You’ve submitted to Best of SNO. You’ve made a few design upgrades. You’ve read every SNO Report and incorporated each lesson into your day-to-day operations.

You’ve played in a big pile of leaves. You went to the Homecoming dance and didn’t spill anything on your dress. Your fantasy football team was a bust. (Dude, mine, too.)

But your website doesn’t have to be! Coming Monday, Nov. 6, we’re reopening our SNO Distinguished Sites awards program.

We recognized 28 student publications as Distinguished Sites (the granddaddy of them all) last year and awarded 90 sites and total of 268 badges. Don’t miss out on getting your piece of the pie this time. Once it’s open, you can apply for any of six badges as many times as it takes until you get our stamp of approval. Earn all six, and you’re a SNO Distinguished Site.

Here’s a rundown of what those six badges are:

Continuous Coverage: We want to see you doing frequent and sustained reporting — crucial to being a valuable online resource for your readers. So we’re looking at how you develop a story over time, what you do to follow up a story, and how quickly you post updates following an event (hint: within two days).

Story Page Excellence: Combing over our recent SNO Reports will help you out here, but essentially we’re looking for story pages that aren’t messy or error-ridden, that use SNO Story Elements and use our different story templates appropriately.

Excellence in Writing: Some of you eager beavers have already earned this little guy. If you’ve submitted to Best of SNO this year and been published three or more times, you’re in.

Multimedia: It’s no help to have well-written articles with this one. Nope. We’re looking at your videos and photo slideshows, and judging how well done they are based on length, quality, interest level and other such things.

Audience Engagement: For this, we’re measuring how popular your site is and judging your social media footprint. The two aren’t unrelated.

Site Excellence: How’s your homepage looking? You must have customized your site beyond the preset design you got in the beginning (no matter how long ago or recent that was), and that customization should look good. There’s a 23-step guide that breaks down exactly what we’re looking at for you to earn this badge.

For more in-depth explanations of the requirements, and to start applying on Nov. 6, see the Distinguished Sites page of your website.

Good luck!