We hear it everywhere: journalism is struggling. Decreasing revenues with the result of tight or even no budgets, fewer and stressed employees and really big question marks of how journalism will shape up in the future.

In this article I will present you journalism methods of how to engage with your audience, establish relationships, expand communities and work with and for them.

“It is our job to hear all people. And to listen closely. And to give the people of America insights into each other,” Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron said.

The seven general questions of journalism (who, what, where, how, when, from where and why) lead in practice to three other, equally important questions:

Who am I writing for?

Why is it important to them?

And what will they find interesting?

There are various types of journalism working with this approach. During my research I have found the following categories:

Citizens’ journalism, based, as the name implies, on citizens. They play an active role in the process of collecting, analyzing, reporting, and disseminating news.

Engaged journalism is to engage with the communities who generally focus the topic you are currently working on. The communities submit their interests, needs, and expert information.

Open source journalism which uses open source softwares to allow anyone to submit opinions and contents, all centralized in one file.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof opined that journalists “spend too much time chatting up senators, and not enough visiting unemployed steel workers.”

To implement these business strategies in a company requires a matrix:

Grow audiences across platforms to increase reach, distribute content more widely, and expand audiences.Engage with your audience to encourage affinity, loyalty, membership and advocacy.
Know your audience to form and deepen individual relationships and encourage
Monetize your audience to drive memberships and other forms of revenue.

Interact with users takes the right kind of platforms. In my opinion use as many as possible to reach all parts of society. Consider not to overload your community managers – as usual ‘quality instead of quantity’.

Create a page for each topic that is visible on your homepage and appears as a pop up. Add the content to your newsletter and communicate it via your social media profiles. 70% of all US Americans are active social media users with an average time of two hours a day.

Engage with the audience in journalism

Also consider some disrespectful comments. Use functions and tools to delete them before they appear, to ensure quality and meaningful questions. Bassey Etim community manager of the The New York Times says most people read the first comments and write afterwards. It is important to keep the first comments as good as possible.

Jacob L. Nelson a researcher at Northwestern University determined that interaction with an audience is less stressful for staff when confined to a specific niche audience. This perception supports the form of engaged journalism.

Further options to deepen relationships are creating your own communities, for example groups on Facebook, Whatsapp, Meetup, LinkedIn, or subreddits, Slack communities, mailing lists and a forum on your website.

Let us examine practical formats:

Ask the Expert

Invite experts in certain topics, or celebrities, to an interview. Once you get the confirmation, make it public and ask the audience to send you questions. Create a structured list with relevant questions and give it to your guest.

For transparency, show the user name who submitted the question. Do consider privacy laws and talk to your team on how best to show the names.

Interaction and traffic can be immense, especially when you produce a video. The Digital Report 2019 shows that videos are the most streamed contents in the US.

Ask the audience about their interests and needs

In this format you want to figure out what moves your audience. You might find there is a larger group naming a particular topic, then this is a great opportunity to do work in their interest. Be careful not to ask something too specific or too random. It is always a good idea to imagine what your friends might reply.

Share their stories

You are working on a topic, and want to involve people concerned. Make your project public and ask your audience to share their stories and medias with you.

Share stories of your audience

Activate your readers

Edit your content and give your audience a space through a linked form to submit answers to your queries, information, concerns, ideas, and contents. Also, you could activate them by asking a question at the end of each article and letting them share their thoughts in the comment bars. This in turn could produce input to shape future articles.

Face to face engagement

Events are a great opportunity to discuss topics and deepen relationships. This format is also key to involving people who do not use digital gadgets. Ask them for constructive feedback and open a dialogue.

Monitor user traffic

Most organizations already use softwares to monitor their user traffic. Good methods to analyze data can support you in understanding their interests and their engagement with particular contents. The information gained this way will guide you in developing future strategies.

Do you have any questions, thoughts or ideas you want to share? Leave a comment or send me an email.

Contact me to implement these strategies in your organization.

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