First place: Staff, The Herald News

About this entry: “When we shifted our focus in early 2015 toward digital, one of the areas we really hit hard was ‘engagement.’ I think for too long, newspapers were viewed as a ‘voice on high’ that reported what we thought people should know and told them how we think they should vote/feel/etc. turned that on its head — instead we were encouraged to give readers what they want (albeit in the same responsible manner that we always had) and sometimes that involved giving them what we thought they needed to know but in an alternative format that made them take notice in a way that a traditional story might not. Three ways we did this were: formation of a Community Advisory Board; ‘curated’ user-generated content; and boosting our Holiday Fund annual charity with our inaugural Festival of Trees.” — Lynne Sullivan, editor in chief

Read online: Herald News, AHA! in Fall River team up to present Festival of Trees, Sponsor a tree to benefit The Herald News Holiday Fund, Vote for your favorite tree from the Festival of Trees, Christmas trees decorated by Gold Medal, Rep. Silvia win ‘Festival of Trees’ contest, Love where you live: Plenty of places to walk to, #TBT: Local religious leaders offer prayers for 2016, Take a whack at Lizzie, From the CAB: Introducing HN’s Community Advisory Board – and our ‘Fall River Forward’ Award, From the CAB: Fall River Parent Academy is Moving ‘Fall River Forward’

Follow The Herald News on Twitter @HNNow

Excellent use by the Herald News to interact with their audience, using new technologies, to help build community.

Second place: Joe Wright, The Times-Reporter

About this entry: “As community interaction editor, Joe Wright works diligently to ensure readers are engaged with the newspaper in print and online by utilizing reader callouts for their opinions on current news topics, submitted photos on a special topic — and more.” — Melissa Griffy Seeton, editor, The Times-Reporter

Read online: Times-Reporter’s Community Corner

Joe Wright of the Times-Reporter should be commended for upping the game when it comes to audience engagement and user interaction.

Third place: Nicholas Hughes, Pocono Record

About this entry: “We love to engage in conversation everything with our readers, by asking a question or calling out for answers on a topic that is trending. In a recent callout on the social media website Facebook, #NationalDogDay was trending across the board. So, we put out a callout on Facebook, asking our readers to submit their favorite pet photos. We also made a photo gallery on our Pinterest as well.” — Nicholas Hughes

Check it out: National Dog Day 2015 on Pinterest

Credit to the staff of the Pocono Record for recognizing a trending topic and quickly capitalizing on it in an effort to engage readers.