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Embrace platforms: Assessing the gaps in your newsroom

Take this quiz for a quick read on where your efforts stand vis a vis this Table Stake.

This is an excerpt from “Table Stakes: A Manual for Getting in the Game of News,” published Nov. 14, 2017. Read more excerpts here.

The gaps with this Table Stake concern how far you’ve come in (1) thinking strategically about your overall distribution plan, (2) using the target audience perspective to deliberately choose the platforms you use, (3) organizing yourselves to manage each platform effectively; and, (4) rigorously assessing platform performance and value against objectives you establish.

Take the following quiz for a quick read on where your efforts stand vis a vis this Table Stake. Please note: these statements are phrased so that a ‘yes’ answer indicates your efforts have gaps – that is, fall short of the requirements of this Table Stake. And, the more yesses, the more gaps you face.

It is worth having many folks take these quizzes, including people in the newsroom as well as from technology, marketing, sales, HR and finance. Compare and discuss your respective responses and where you have agreement or not. Use these discussions to identify and highlight the most significant distribution gaps you face with regard to publishing on the platforms used by your target audiences.

  Yes No
1.     We publish on multiple digital platforms, but we are not entirely clear why we are publishing on each of them, who we are trying to reach, and what we are gaining from the effort involved.
2.     We often describe the audience for a platform as anyone who uses the platform (“our audience for Facebook is Facebook users”).
3.     We still have some-to-many reporters and editors in our newsroom who see getting a story published on the main website as the extent of their digital publishing concerns.
4.     We too often make decisions about publishing or promoting a story somewhere other than our main web and mobile site until after that story has been published on the main site instead of including such considerations from the beginning.
5.     Our decisions on what, how much and when to publish on a given platform are more often than not ad hoc and based on an individual’s notions at the time.
6.     We do not have one individual or team directly responsible for growing our Facebook audience, engagement and referrals .
7.     Too many of our reporters and editors are confused about whom to ask for help with questions about what works best for audiences on different platforms.
8.     The people in our newsroom lack a common and ever growing view of the specific practices that have actually proven to be effective on platforms.
9.     We too often fail to meet the minimum user experience expectations for platforms (e.g. speedy load times).
10.  We cannot point to enough platforms where we believe we’ve figured out what it takes to consistently succeed – and have the audience results to prove it.
11.  I am worried that our newsroom’s lack of platform skills and expertise will preclude us getting really good at enough platforms.
12.  We too often begin publishing on a platform without setting any audience targets in advance, or setting a checkpoint in time to decide whether to continue using that platform.
13.  We have at times launched on a new platform only to have it hardly mentioned six months later.
14.  Our main website and mobile site or app are the only platforms for which we regularly track and report audience traffic.
15.  Total page views and uniques are the primary metrics we track on our main website.
16.  We do not regularly track and set goals against how we rank in our market versus local digital competitors (e.g. local TV stations but also the local Facebook presence).
17.  We pay attention to one-off stories that go viral and blow through the numbers but do not regularly track whether the average performance of all stories – or stories of certain types – are rising or falling.