Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the KPCC-LAist newsroom has invited questions from its audience. Nearly 4,000 people have written in. More than half of them have opted into newsletters, and nearly all have received a personal answer.
Serve targeted audiences with targeted contentSubscribe to Updates Think and act audience first. Be audience-driven across your enterprise. Identify and focus on particular, target audiences with needs, interests and problems that you can address well and derive revenue from. Use your local market knowledge, perspective and presence to serve these audiences far better than competitors. In doing this, don’t trap yourself into serving individuals alone – don’t overlook businesses and organizations as potential content customers you can serve.
Big Picture A primer on why news organizations must serve targeted audiences with targeted content
Audience first is a mandatory change imposed by digital media realities. It is Table Stakes – without it, your news enterprise cannot be ‘in the game.’ Equally important though is this: putting audiences first not only gets you into the game but also far better positions your newsroom to provide more effective journalism whose relevance and value better serves the needs, interests and problems of target audiences. In other words, audience first is essential to fulfilling your journalistic mission.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Create a town hall-style event for local candidates running for office to engage with constituents often excluded from the election cycle. The town hall hosted by EdNC, a nonprofit news outlet covering education in North Carolina, allowed high school students in a rural county to meet with candidates for state superintendent.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Identify and serve an audience segment that has left your print edition, but is still invested in your community and active in city life. Help them find value in a digital subscription.
Plan Understand the gaps in your news organization and how to close them
Three ways newsrooms can reorient toward getting content in front of the right audiences.
Take this quiz for a quick read on your organization’s gaps in serving targeted audiences with targeted content — and find out why your gaps exist.
Success manifests itself both internally in skills, attitudes, behaviors and ways of working with one another and externally in how audiences and advertisers perceive and, then, put a value on your efforts.
This section describes ways to track progress and measure success at mastering how to use targeted content to serve targeted audiences.
Do Actions to close the gap
If you want to shift your newsroom to an audience-first approach, then you must set and hold the newsroom accountable for audience goals. No amount of training, town hall discussions, strategy studies, brown bag lunches or other approaches to describing and encouraging audience-first changes will gain as much traction.
Audiences have choices – lots of choices. So, it is imperative that your newsroom understand the needs and interest of audiences from their perspective, not yours.
“Learning by doing” is your newsroom’s path toward figuring out what works best and most sustainably.
This step begins your transition from instilling an audience-first perspective across your newsroom toward getting good at identifying and serving targeted audience segments.
Using defined criteria for making key decisions is an enormously important discipline to build in your news enterprise. The best way to learn how to serve targeted audiences with targeted content is to ‘just do it.’ Get going now!
The audience teams you select should start by defining success – that is setting specific traffic, engagement, revenue and/or other goals – then craft ‘content plus’ approaches to succeeding. The content that best serves a target audience differs from traditional newsroom thinking about beats and news coverage.
Eventually, you should organize the whole newsroom around audience-driven teams and, as Table Stake #7 describes, have mini-publishers drive those efforts.