How covering the funeral of Keith Flint drew a global audience to EssexLive
Journalists at EssexLive newsroom delivered unrivalled coverage of Keith Flint’s funeral, with a two-hour Facebook Live video broadcasting the procession to the world and a 16-page commemorative supplement appearing in this week’s Essex Chronicle.
Fans of The Prodigy came together in Braintree on Friday (March 29) to remember frontman Keith, whose untimely death shocked the nation earlier in the month.
The week after Keith’s death, we asked readers on the EssexLive Facebook page to choose how the front page of the Essex Chronicle should look.
Design Content Editor Darryl Webber produced two strikingly different fronts; one showing Keith as the terrifying front man who owned the stage during live shows but a second showing him as the much gentler and quiet man that he was away from the limelight.
The poll attracted more than 6,000 votes but it was the shot of Keith backstage that readers preferred.
When we found out this edition generated a healthy newspaper sales lift, we decided to go even bigger and create a Keith Flint supplement after his funeral.
What started as an eight-page pull-out quickly doubled in size and the finished product features all the photographs and reaction that filled our online live blog on the day.
The evening before Keith’s funeral, we included details of the supplement in our digital coverage, including a fact box explaining how fans from outside Essex can buy a copy.
Alan Woods, EssexLive Brands Editor, explained: “I thought I might get a few emails, but not in excess of 800.
“To date, we have well over 1,000 copies of this weeks Chronicle on ‘pre-order’ around the globe.
“Fans from America, Australia, Japan, Italy, Latvia, France and Poland — to name but a few — want to get their hands on our newspaper.
“It’s an amazing and very rewarding feeling to produce something that so many people want to get their hands on, as their own special way of remembering Keith.”
The newspaper features a wraparound cover showing a striking image of Keith’s coffin arriving at the church for the funeral ceremony. The supplement inside also has a wraparound cover of fans partying in the street after the ceremony.
And it was an instant success — within hours of hitting the news-stands, the edition was sold out across Braintree.
Reporters started to spot posts in Facebook groups from readers trying to track a copy down, whilst other readers were buying up more than ten editions at a time to post to fellow Prodigy fans across the world.
The telephones at the reception desk in Tunbridge Wells, meanwhile, were ringing off the hook.
Fans were desperately trying to get through to secure a copy to the extent Alan had to publish a post on the EssexLive Facebook page to re-assure readers that there would be a copy available still when they finally got through.
Alan continued: “Our online coverage on the day generated 145,000 page views and our live blog was consistently the most-read story on the county sites network throughout the entire day.
“Given the amount of love for Keith across the country, we knew it was important to broadcast as much of the funeral live on Facebook as possible.
“After announcing we would do this the day before, we were inundated with support from fans across the world thanking us.
“So many people wanted to pay their last respects to Keith but were unable to travel to Essex and it was really rewarding to be able to connect them with the funeral.
“We did two Facebook Live videos — the first 57-minute video was of the procession travelling through the town. The second — lasting no less than 2 hours and 7 minutes — was of the procession arriving at the church and then of the entire funeral service, which was broadcast on speakers to people outside.”
The first Facebook Live reached 258,000 people and the second 271,000. Together, they delivered over 130,000 engagements; an EssexLive personal best.
EssexLive gained 4,000 ‘likes’ in the seven days leading up to Keith’s funeral.
EssexLive had more than 50 messages from fans across the world since, thanking us for our coverage, including one that said: ‘I just want to say thank you from Berlin for the broadcast from Keith’s funeral yesterday! I had no chance to make it over.
“Your two reporters done a superb job and put on a good fight against the emotions — big respect. I cried, smiled and remembered via your team and medium yesterday the whole broadcast. Big hugs to the two live reporters, photographers and everyone involved within that stream. Have a sunny day, smile and rave! One love from Berlin.”