Angie's List Podcast, Disaster Package Wins Top Honors
Angie's List Newsroom
An Angie’s List article package on how homeowners cope and rebuild following a disaster, and the company’s Chat with the Experts podcast series, garnered top honors in the 2014 Content Marketing Awards, a leading awards program for those who create content for brand newsrooms and organizations.
With more than 1,100 entries submitted in various categories, the Angie’s List article package, Finding Normal After the Disaster, won the Gold award for Best Special Topic Issue in the editorial category for Print or Digital. Runners-up were The Walt Disney Company and Liberty Mutual Insurance.
The Chat with the Experts podcast series won the Gold award for Best Podcast Series in the social media category. Runner-up was The Joint Commission, a nonprofit that accredits and certifies health care organizations.
The competition for the CMAs was steep. Angie’s List won alongside content creators from Microsoft, Google, Allstate, Adobe, Time Inc., General Electric, and more.
Finding Normal After the Disaster
“The idea for this package came from [Senior Editor] Meranda Adams, who had discovered some extraordinary reviews about a contractor who helped one family rebuild following a disastrous house fire and another do the same after a tornado nearly leveled their home," says Sue Wiltz, Director of Content for the Angie's List Newsroom. "We realized we had an important story on our hands, one that affects thousands of homeowners every year when they're at their most vulnerable. We wanted to arm them with the expert advice they need before, during and after such a disaster strikes."
Managing Editor Diana Lamirand assembled a team that included Senior Writer Staci Giordullo, Adams and other staff to investigate other ways service providers on Angie’s List help victims who suddenly lose their home and everything in it. Reporters followed Angie’s List member families across the country who had become victims of a hurricane, wildfire, tornado, explosion, and lightning-induced fire.
"They covered these families for several months as they recovered from the immediate disaster, took steps to salvage what was left, and then made plans to resurrect their homes," Lamirand says.
As part of this effort, Wiltz decided in May 2013 to send a crew to Moore, Oklahoma, to serve as on-the-ground support for Angie's List members, report on homeowners’ efforts to salvage their belongings and rebuild following an EF-5 tornado. Project Manager Katie Jacewicz and videographer Rachel Hardy spent five days in the area gathering information and footage.
“I was taking photos of the debris and devastation when I saw a young man bring flowers to the site,” Jacewicz says, recalling the horrific devastation as she stood on the corner of Telephone Road and SW Fourth Street in Moore. “He told me his friend's cousin and young baby didn't make it out alive.”
Lamirand directed other staff writers, including Senior Writer Paul Pogue, to hit the phones and follow up with victims of this horrific Oklahoma tornado to learn what they were going through and talk to service providers to see how they were helping victims recover. To support Angie's List members in the Moore area, the company offered its concierge service to victims of the storm, and Jacewicz and Hardy met with several to see how they could help.
"There's not much you can do for someone immediately following a tornado, but the members were very thankful that we were there to provide support," Jacewicz says.
Reporters also learned an important lesson. “When you write a story like this, you can’t help but wonder what would I do if this happened to me?” Giordullo says. “Realizing that neither I, nor most of my friends and family, would be prepared if we lost our homes, was a hard truth to face. I became an advocate of making sure everyone in my life knew how important it is to take inventory of your home’s contents and review your homeowners insurance annually.”
Coordinating this extensive package involved many moving pieces and players, including working with the writers, photographers, videographers and others, Lamirand says. “We want to be the 'go-to' source when trying to find help before, during and after such a calamity,” Lamirand says.
Chat with the Experts
Senior Editor Kiel Hauck says he started Chat with the Experts as a way to give highly rated service providers on Angie’s List an actual voice.
Podcast with a Purpose
Watch this video of Chat with the Experts to hear Kiel Hauck and Chris Sublett of Vogel Appliance talk about how to care for your oven as the busy holiday season approaches.
“Angie's List offers so much access to industry experts that it made sense to have a platform for these providers to not only share their knowledge, but to tell us who they are,” he says. “Our goal is to continue to offer a platform for providers to share a wealth of information, whether it’s about seasonal home improvement matters or trending health and lifestyle issues. With each passing week, we're adding to our back catalog of topics in hopes of making the life of homeowners just a little easier, and maybe even providing a laugh or two.
In one year, Hauck says the program has grown from a monthly national podcast recorded in his own home to a weekly podcast and radio show on one of Indianapolis' premiere radio stations, WIBC 93.1. “We've gone from dozens of monthly podcast listeners to thousands, spanning across all 50 states,” he says. “I think the future is bright for Chat with the Experts and I'm excited for what's ahead.”
The Angie’s List Newsroom has earned 31 other awards in 2014 for its journalistic efforts ranging from writing and cover art to photography, digital design and social media, including Green Eyeshade, Association for Women in Communications/Clarion, APEX awards, National Association of Real Estate Editors, Indy SPJ, Chicago Headline Club, W3 awards and The Communicator Awards.