Critical Thinking: Which Stories Should Be Published On Which Platforms?

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By: Nu Yang

Critical Thinking: Which Stories Should Be Published On Which Platforms?

Q: With so many ways to publish content — print, online for free, online behind a paywall, mobile apps, social media — how should publishers differentiate which content gets distributed to which platform?

Annie Rivera, 43, graduate student, California State University, Fullerton
Rivera is studying communications with an emphasis in professional communications. She also earned a bachelor’s degree from CSUF in communications with an emphasis in public relations and completed credits toward a minor in radio, TV and film. She is a freelance journalist for several local newspapers.

A: Publishers should have the reader in mind in order to determine what topics are most appropriate to engage the target audience. As communication specialists, it is important to understand the reader’s psychographics, demographics, and interests because the content or message could have the potential to persuade, evoke emotions, or incite a call-to-action. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube are powerful “word-of-mouth” tools that can be used to distribute content instantaneously (viral marketing effect), whether locally (within a community) or globally (covering a wider variety of audiences in many geographical areas).

Personally, I tailor my messages specifically to the audience’s interests on my Facebook pages. For instance, on my personal profile page, it’s “anything goes.” I will share and post topics I find interesting, humorous, entertaining, or thought-provoking, and more often than not, my networks consisting of friends and family will share it with their networks and so on. On my public relations and media Facebook page targeted at prospective and current clients, I post recent articles I have written for the local newspapers. I share links to articles or press releases I have placed in local publications or post promotional video or photographs of upcoming or past events to raise awareness and create “buzz” among my audiences. My third Facebook page focuses on my hobbies: sewing and crafting. I will post photos of my new creations or those of other designers who have inspired me, targeted at other crafters or sewing enthusiasts.

The key to selecting content to publish across many platforms is answering: Who is your audience? What are their interests? Where are they getting their information (newspapers, magazine, TV, radio, surfing the Internet, search engines, etc.)? When do they like to receive their information (in the morning, noon, evening, or once a day, twice daily, once a week, etc.)? How do they receive their information (online, newspapers, social networking sites, email, word-of-mouth, etc.)?

Jackie Kaczmarek, 58, executive editor, Hanford (Calif.) Sentinel
Kaczmarek is executive editor of the Hanford Sentinel, a Lee Enterprises daily newspaper in California’s Central Valley. Prior to her tenure at the Sentinel, Kaczmarek was senior editor at the Merced (Calif.) Sun-Star and has worked at several other newspapers in California and in Nevada.

A: Content is content, whether it’s news or advertising. Our goal in this industry should always be to grow circulation and increase revenue across all platforms.

Because of the rapid growth of digital and mobile, publishers and editors must realize that we are now a “news and information service” rather than just a “newspaper.” Departments (advertising, editorial, circulation, etc.) can no longer operate as silos; leaders must break down the traditional barriers and embrace this new concept for us to be successful.

Despite the inroads made by online and mobile media, the core success of our business currently lies in print. As newsroom staffing shrinks, a reliance on community journalism — submitted photos and stories — can add to local offerings to drive the “print-only” audience. Promoting video, photo galleries, or Web comments in print provides that link to the online or mobile product.

Our social media audience — predominantly Facebook — wants news updates in real time. Facebook is a perfect vehicle to post breaking news updates as a story unfolds. Linking back to the news website is preferable whenever possible, of course.

Because our industry began offering “news for free” online — and developing our websites to include comments, video, etc. — the challenge will be deciding what goes behind a paywall. Perhaps it’s the “rest of the story” that resides there, such as more in-depth reporting, charts, links, video, comments, etc. How we market and promote this concept of paying for online content — as we do with an e-edition of the newspaper — will help ensure its future success.

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