5 takeaways from The Emerging Audience and Product Development Playbook for Small/Midsize Newsrooms

Kat Borgerding (@katborgerding), a volunteer with the ONA Resource Team, compiled these key moments from the ONA20 session on Oct. 15, 2020. To view a recording of the session, register for on-demand access to the ONA20 archive. Session participants included:

  • Evan Mackinder, Director of Audience Development, News Revenue Hub
  • Alexandra Smith, Director of Growth, WhereBy.Us
  • Ray Boyd, Deputy Editor for Audience Development, The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Moderator: Sibel Lowin, Partnerships Solutions Lead, Google

5 key takeaways:

  1. Approach to social promotion: Think about what the priority is, what is the goal of a specific piece of content. A social-only focused strategy might not be best. A search or other product strategy could be better.
  2. The audience job description should be 30% of your time on analytics, 30% of your time on newsletters and 30% of your time on distribution platforms like SEO and social.
  3. Organizations tend to put way too much time into social and not enough time into other platform buckets. An SEO strategy is as important for engagement and growth as a social media strategy.
  4. Use a RASCI chart to get organized — helps you break down tasks for a project or a strategy. Alexandra Smith said these charts are how she keeps her team on track when building a product and engagement strategy or running experiments.
  5. It’s important to remember not to add too many bells and whistles to a project just for the sake of adding them. Sending out a survey to your readers or simply looking at the metrics of how readers engage can be tools to know what readers want. “Talk to your users or look at those metrics or do both. Ideally, the user should be your referee.” —Alexandra Smith

Memorable/tweetable quotes:

  • “We try to just be very very intentional and not lean on social media as always being the top priority when in some instances, that might not serve the audience best.” —Ray Boyd
  • “I usually recommend when an audience person first starts in an organization that they actually go on a goodwill tour with editorial just to like meet the editors and talk with them and build trust.” —Evan Mackinder
  • “Talk to your users or look at those metrics or do both. Ideally, the user should be your referee. You should never be sitting in a room going back and forth with a couple audience and editorial team members trying to decide without that.” —Alexandra Smith

Links to additional resources