Legacy.com achieves milestone: 650 newspaper affiliates

Web site hosts obituaries and memorials for more than 60 percent of all U.S. deaths

Apr 28, 2008 - Legacy.com — which collaborates with newspapers to offer their obituaries online and to provide newspaper readers with new ways to share their remembrances of loved ones, has affiliated with its 650th newspaper.

The Enid News & Eagle in Enid, Okla., has become Legacy’s 650th affiliate.

Legacy.com hosts obituaries and memorials for more than 60 percent of the people who die in the United States. The site attracts more than 10 million visitors monthly and hosts obituaries for more than three-quarters of the 100 largest newspapers, by circulation.

Legacy.com is a privately held company, and its investors include the Tribune Co., publisher of the Chicago Tribune, which in 2001 became Legacy.com’s first newspaper affiliate.

“The local newspaper is where families and friends turn when someone they love dies,” said Stopher Bartol, president and CEO of Legacy.com. “The obituaries page is one of the best-read sections of the newspaper, but with the advent of the Internet, we realized there were ways we could help newspapers better connect with their readers to celebrate people’s lives.”

Online ‘Guest Book’ critical to connecting readers and driving traffic

One of Legacy.com’s first and most enduring services was the online Guest Book, which enables anyone with an Internet connection to pay tribute to someone whose obituary appears in one of Legacy.com’s affiliate newspapers. Legacy.com popularized the online Guest Book, taking it from a novelty a few years ago to a widely accepted way to remember loved ones and offer condolences to families. For example, in April 2001, the company posted roughly 25 Guest Book entry per day. By April 2008, that number had climbed to almost 30,000 a day.

Legacy.com now reviews more than 700,000 Guest Book entries each month. About 75 percent of all Guest Books receive entries. The company is approaching 25 million Guest Book entries on its site.

Legacy.com uses a process that combines artificial intelligence and professional editorial review to screen each Guest Book entry to ensure that the content is appropriate, before it is posted to the site. (For access to a detailed online FAQ that more fully explains the review process, please contact Rebecca Theim at [email protected])

More than 45,000 individuals signed the Guest Book for civil rights leader Rosa Parks after her October 2005 death — this continues to be the Guest Book record for any individual.

Other ways to connect and remember

The company also provides its newspaper affiliates and users with new and powerful ways to connect with their readers during shared times of loss, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the aftermaths of such national tragedies as 9/11 and the Virginia Tech shooting.

Legacy.com created its first Special Tribute in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. To date, almost 5 million people have visited its “Remember September 11, 2001” memorial and have penned 200,000 entries in the specially created “National Book of Remembrance” Guest Book and the individual respective Guest Books for the 2,823 victims.

In March 2005, Legacy.com created “In Remembrance,” in which families and friends of soldiers killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan can create interactive memorials free of charge. To date, 190,000 Guest Book entries have been penned in the section, which has attracted 7 million page views.

Expanding beyond the memorial space

Legacy.com is now expanding beyond the obituary and memorial space to connect newspapers to their readers on topics ranging from pets to public notices to wedding announcements:

  • In the spring of 2007, Legacy.com launched Gadzoo.com, which helps newspapers leverage the Web to better serve another newspaper advertising mainstay — pets and pet care. Gadzoo.com follows the same business model as Legacy.com in that newspapers affiliate with Gadzoo.com to develop co-branded Web sites. As of April 2008, Gadzoo had about 65 affiliates.
  • Legacy.com acquired in 2005 MyPublicNotices.com, which offers a range of services related to public notice advertising in about 400 newspapers, primarily in the northeastern United States.
  • Legacy.com also partners with newspaper affiliates to offer “Celebrations,” in which people can announce a variety of events, including weddings and commitments, births and birthdays, engagements, anniversaries and graduations. As of April 2008, about 130 Legacy.com newspaper affiliates offer “Celebrations” through Legacy.com.