How to build audiences by engaging your community

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Table of contents,How to listen to and engage your. What is engagement and why does it,5 steps to effective audience. engagement,How to listen to your audience,How to become a consistently. engaging newsroom, People don t just consume news today They participate in it. People have access to vast and varied information They pursue news on their own time and on their own. terms connecting with others who share and help satisfy their curiosity about their world. This presents an opportunity for news publishers strained by shrinking resources and growing. competition Now more than ever journalists can engage their audiences as contributors advisors. advocates collaborators and partners, This study describes in detail how newsrooms and independent journalists can grow their readership.
boost their relevance and find new sources of revenue by listening to and learning from their audiences. Reporters and editors can apply this,knowledge to all phases of news production. including story selection reporting and,distribution These strategies also can help. This is about how journalists can genuinely,collaborate with audiences to improve. with the longer term development of beats,their work not simply to promote it. sources formats and innovative news,products Over time publishers embracing.
these strategies can strengthen their business,and increase the impact of their work. This report is part of the American Press Institute s series of Strategy Studies which offer detailed. practical strategic guidance about a critical issue that journalists and news organizations need to address. For this study I talked with 25 news leaders and innovators to distill best practices in audience and. community engagement I consulted reporters and editors managers and strategists pioneers and leading. thinkers in this field These innovators work in many places in legacy newspapers digitally native outlets. radio and television stations hyperlocal news outlets and technology startups They serve national local. and hyperlocal audiences and have for profit and nonprofit business models. Collaboration is not about what,your audience can do for you but. what you can do with your, To be clear This report is not a social media guide a technical manual or a primer on marketing yourself. or your stories This is about how journalists can genuinely collaborate with audiences to improve their. work not simply to promote it To the extent that certain technologies and promotional strategies help. strengthen your work we will address them But this report was written with a point of view Collaboration. is not about what your audience can do for you but what you can do with your audience. To examine best practices we ll work through the basics of how to effectively interact with and tune in to. the communities that can most strengthen your journalism Then we ll look at a few ways newsrooms can. build their capacity to engage their audiences,What is engagement and why does it matter. 5 steps to effective engagement,1 Target your outreach.
2 Invite valuable contributions,3 Cultivate productive interaction. 4 Honor community work,5 Learn and improve,How to listen to your audience. How to build an engaging newsroom,What is engagement and why does it. Though engagement is a word journalists hear a lot these days its function can be tough to articulate. For many the goal of engagement seems to be largely marketing chiefly on social media How many. shares can your story get How many followers do you have on Twitter. For others engagement is about making your reporting easier by getting your audience to send you useful. Journalists who have built the most valuable connections to their communities say that engaging people in. their journalism aims to achieve something more fundamental than either promotion or crowdsourcing. It s making sure your work matters to your audience And to the publishers who oversee journalists work. engagement helps ensure that work finds the public support it needs to endure. One strong example of this kind of engagement is The Seattle Times Education Lab project which covers. public education issues in conversation with the locals who most care about it Before the project. launched staff organized a seven stop listening tour with parents students teachers and community. leaders whom they had identified as influencers in the education space Education reporters and editors a. newly hired community engagement editor and even the paper s assistant managing editor attended. We got story ideas but the most important,thing that came out of that was confidence. building the confidence that what we were,creating would be of value to the community.
Engagement is making sure your work,matters to your audience. said Sharon Chan the paper s director of,journalism initiatives who helped design the. engagement strategies for the project, The Education Lab was scheduled to be a one year project It is now in its third year thanks in part to. support from Seattle s education community Chan said The education leaders whom Times staff engaged. early on are among the project s biggest advocates passing on ideas and advocating to potential funders. Had the education community not been involved Chan said that community would put the onus on The. Seattle Times Company to fund the sustainability of the project They would be complaining to us You. need to keep going as opposed to the conversation being How can we help you find support. When news publishers engage the public in their work they open up avenues that can support it Rather. than merely consuming journalism a member of the public can become a partner in sustaining it. The real product is the relationship, Involving audiences in journalism changes what the news is in the first place It s not a product created by. journalists and delivered to an audience It s an open public conversation Ideally news in the digital. world takes input from both journalists and the public to power what Tom Rosenstiel of the American. Press Institute calls a virtuous circle of learning. The Seattle Times engaged in that conversation with the education community throughout Education Lab. It asked questions on social media published guest columns by community members held live Q As with. reporters about their stories and hosted events and even workshops to deepen conversations and make it. easier for people to act Project staff twice invited influencers to provide feedback over lunch and held a. roadshow to talk about the impact of the coverage, The newspaper helped turn often angry rhetoric into constructive dialogue that parents educators and.
community members craved noted judges for the Associated Press Media Editors Awards which named. The Seattle Times Education Lab one of two winners of its inaugural prize for community engagement. As the Education Lab advanced Times staff,learned how it could organize its reporting to. better involve the community In the first year,they covered many different subjects within. Involving audiences in journalism changes,what the news is. education as the subjects developed like,traditional beat reporters would Editors then. realized they could build more community, investment and engagement around certain topics by reporting several stories about that topic over several.
months each building on the last, Staying with a topic gave Education Lab staff the opportunity to develop communities of interest who. could then suggest more stories This proved particularly effective when the Times Education Lab took on. the theme of school discipline They organized two real world events to take the conversation offline They. then created a Facebook group Discipline for all A community conversation and invited event. attendees to join Reporters and editors engaged with the online group keeping the conversation there. fresh by adding links to relevant articles from around the Web. When a member of the Facebook group shared that the Seattle School Board was going to consider a. moratorium on school suspensions the education editor saw it and assigned a reporter to the story The. June 25 2015 story ran online that same day and in the print edition the following day It sparked a local. conversation that grew and intensified On Sept 23 the board voted to halt school suspensions. Meanwhile traffic to the Education Lab blog grew Over time reporters noticed that their sources seemed. to trust them more and with that trust came better access better stories and a more loyal audience The. stories they realized were building blocks for something else. The discrete product Chan said was the relationship. Tracking engagement ensures your work matters, Relationships are the most valuable products of strong community engagement but any effort to involve. connect with or even just understand your audiences has other rewards. Benjamin Herold a reporter at Education Week had no idea how many people read his stories when he. asked a colleague to help him design a way to learn from his audience He had heard in scattered staff. emails and industry articles that he should look at things like search engine optimization to make his. content more findable to his audience But he was busy enough writing stories. I realized at that point that I was dismissive of this stuff without taking it seriously he said I don t like. to be that way so I said let s give this an honest effort an honest shot If nothing comes of it I can feel. warranted in my skepticism, Herold approached Education Week director of knowledge services Rachael Delgado for help Working. with web analyst Mike Castellano the three chose seven indicators to track audience activity such as page. views and site registrations, Then they developed 12 ways Herold could push that activity Some of those tactics were simple such as. adding more images to his posts Others got to the root of how he organized his work such as spending. less time producing random We have to post something items and more time producing and bundling. stories about topics that most resonated with his audience. Herold applied the tactics to his work from the fall of 2014 through the spring of 2015 meeting regularly. with Delgado and Castellano to discuss his blog s analytics and what he should do next After six months. of thoughtful tracking Herold had doubled his blog s readership nearly doubled registrations to. Education Week from the blog a key part of the organization s business model and increased visits from. the site s core audience of school district administrators by 94 percent. The experience changed how Herold felt about his work Instead of moving from story to story with no. public feedback he found ways to check and boost his relevance and in the process his company s. bottom line,The nature of my job has fundamentally.
changed from producing good content to,producing good content and helping the right. people engage it he wrote on a slide in a,My relationship with my audience has. changed from expecting readers to work to,deck he presented to a group of journalists at. understand my reporting and publication,the 2015 IRE conference. habits to recognizing that I must regularly, My relationship with my audience has work to understand my readers interests.
changed from expecting readers to work to and media consumption behaviors. understand my reporting and publication,habits to recognizing that I must regularly. work to understand my readers interests and, media consumption behaviors he wrote on another slide. At its most powerful engagement is not a layer to add on top of conventional journalistic practice but a. firmer foundation that links journalism more closely with the people it aims to serve. In the process engagement helps journalists answer a critical question about their future As Kelsey Proud. phrased that question in her report The News is Served. How can we make sure we re worth it,A note on audience and community. Conversations about engagement often use the terms audience and community interchangeably. without being clear on what they re talking about This is in part because these terms are useful to this. discussion but are helpful to distinguish For this study s purposes. A news publisher s audience is the group of people who consume that publisher s content We often. refer to a news audience in the singular but it s more useful when shaping newsroom strategy to. recognize that a single news publisher can serve many different audiences with different needs and. interests In any case the audience or audiences are the people you reach. A news community is a group of people who interact with each other around a shared interest or. value Most communities already exist independent of a news publisher And just because your. publication reaches or even engages a number of individuals in your audience doesn t mean you ve. created a true community, The idea of an audience as a group of people who merely consume a product provided for them is outdated. in journalism if not all media You might as well strike it from your sense of who s looking at your work. The companies who already command much of the public s attention view their audiences as creators as. well as consumers of information, Twitter can t just be the best window to the world Twitter also has to be the most powerful microphone in.
To be clear This report is not a social media guide a technical manual or a primer on marketing yourself or your stories This is about how journalists can genuinely collaborate with audiences to improve their work not simply to promote it To the extent that certain technologies and promotional strategies help strengthen your work we will address them But this report was written with a

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