Category Archives: Digital/social

Smart stuff to start your thinking about #collegemedia verticals/channels

You can call them “verticals,” or you can call them “channels.” They are called both in this super-smart Nieman Lab interview with Mic publisher Cory Haik. I saw it in April, made myself a note to go through it with a highlighter aaaaaand found the note this week while cleaning out my Gmail inbox. Better late than never, I hope, here are excerpts and bullet points with college media in mind. And if this is up your alley, I strongly encourage you to read the Nieman interview.

The interview came just after Mic redesigned its website and its approach to news around nine “verticals.” They are:

  • Slay (feminism)
  • Payoff (personal finance)
  • Out of Office (food and travel)
  • Strut (body positivity)
  • Navigating Trump’s America
  • The Future is Now (tech)
  • The Movement (social justice)
  • Multiplayer (gaming)
  • Hype (entertainment)

Haik said the verticals were chosen after study “within the social sphere of where our audiences are and figuring out stories, categories, and topics that they are most passionate about and that our journalists were best to engage with them on.”

Instagram, in particular, we dove into over the summer and found some microcommunities within body positivity and feminism. We created some new teams to spend their time doing daily journalism on this beat within Instagram specifically: original motion graphics, photo illustrations, animations. Editors and story producers connected on these specific topics within Instagram and then really built out these communities.

For example, Slay grew out of a feminism Instagram channel and an email newsletter.

The thesis here was that we were connecting the audiences that we were growing organically within social and were doing our journalism and original storytelling around and then connecting that back to our own site and making those connections explicit with our audiences — so they could follow Slay, engage with Slay, read and watch our Slay journalism on whatever platform really suits them — but also to connect the dots so they know we have a very 360-approach to how we’re doing our journalism across the landscape.

Each vertical uses only the platforms where Mic thinks there’s an interested community. So the personal finance vertical Payoff launched as a podcast and an email newsletter but without an Instagram channel. Payoff also is the example Haik used to talk about making money from a vertical.

Discover sponsors Payoff across all of these different platforms. There’s sponsorship within the podcast, the Payoff newsletter, and on the channel itself — on our site, you see that. Across all the different platforms and the mechanisms by which we’re producing our journalism, there’s also accompanying sponsorship for that brand. There’s a way to really tie it across platforms for the advertiser, which is appealing because they get a very digitally focused innovative way to integrate with the channel in a way that’s not just one node on our site.

Full disclosure: Your humble blogger does not think video is the answer to all journalism problems. He thinks there is a lot of bad video out there. But he’s very proud of his Georgia Southern University students’ video operation and he has to sit up and take note when he sees this:

One of our reporters did a written op-ed that did okay, and then he did the same op-ed in video format and it reached half a million people in just a couple of hours. … if your video reaches 500,000 people, the degree to which some of them will convert to a newsletter subscriber of that columnist is pretty high. They’re interested.

More on leveraging viral success to build brand loyalty:

We are thinking about a lot of ways of connecting our very viral moments to our direct to consumer products. It’s working. Facebook has been a very good lever for us to grow our Navigating Trump’s America newsletter. Whenever there is a big story about Trump and we promote our newsletter, we can get hundreds to thousands of email subscribers. That’s a pretty great funnel.

Lastly, a branding question I suspect will be important for media college media editors. Interviewer Joseph Lichterman asked, “Going back to the channels for a minute: I’m curious how you balance their individual identities versus the overall identity of Mic. How do you want readers to think about them within the overall structure of the publication?”

Mic really is the network of all these other brands. Mic itself is actually a channel as well — that’s really our core news channel. … I don’t know that there’s a ton of crossover between Strut and something like Navigating Trump’s America. There might be. People are interested in politics, obviously, and can be interested in fashion, but we would be perfectly happy if someone just followed our Instagram channel or followed our Facebook page for Strut. We’d view that as a success. We’re figuring out how we bolster these channels on their own, but we do want people to know that they are part of the Mic family. They’re all supported by the endorser brand of Mic.

 

Advertisements

‘Handouts’ for Future of Student Media Summit

Doing content every day:

Ramping up daily digital content

What to do when news isn’t breaking

Check out what our feature magazine does online — almost every day

Street Team:

How I handed out 700 papers one day

Video: Take a look at thecirclegsu.com

Here are the slides: Ohio summit (2)

 

 

Ramp up daily content by keeping it simple

Chase Chalker mugWhat happens when you have to post something about your campus every morning?

Chase Chalker (that’s him with the camera) became the first editor-in-chief of Georgia Southern Student Media’s “Digital Division” in fall 2014. While our newspaper, The George-Anne, continued to post news content, the new division was charged with posting something about campus life every weekday by the time our readers pulled out their phones for lunchtime browsing.

Chase and his crew tackled the mission with gusto and before long had created The Circle, a home for not only daily stories and photos but also a lot of video. (If you’re following industry trends, you won’t be surprised to know that video won the most visits.)

Chase wrote a column about the effort for the Georgia College Press Association newsletter. His advice might be boiled down to: Keep it simple. Here’s a slightly revised version.

Read the rest of this entry

Engaging the audience: a progress report

Dear Student Media staff:

This will be a long message, so flag it to read later when you have a few minutes.

TL;DR? There’s a lot of good stuff going on in Student Media. While we’re all striving to do better in so many areas, it’s important to recognize where we’re making strong progress in engaging our audience.

Now, please indulge a little narrative of how I came to write this message.

Read the rest of this entry

Native advertising: A new road to revenue or a slippery slope? This week’s debate in tweets and links

This week’s day-long Federal Trade Commission discussion of native advertising set off another round of debate, so it’s a good time of another installment of tweets (many with links!) about the direction of advertising and the precious dollars it brings to news media, including college media. (Earlier installments: worries about mobile and some hopeful signs. )

Why does this matter for college media? As I reported in the earlier post on increasing digital revenue, Ryan Frank of the Emerald Media Group at the University of Oregon sums up the feeling about native advertising:  ”Most people hate it. But banner ads aren’t working … we’ve got to do something.”

On to the tweets (only half a dozen) …

Read the rest of this entry

NOLA Notes: Figuring out how to make digital dollars in college media

We’re in the home stretch of my posts drawn from my (obviously) voluminous notes from the National College Media Convention in New Orleans.  After’s today’s post, I plan one more on new revenue streams outside of print and digital advertising.

When newspapers started confronting the new realities of advertising, their chiefs lamented they were trading “print dollars for digital dimes.” Then commodity ad rates online plummeted, and people started talking about “digital pennies.”

But we know we’ve got to turn those pennies into dollars (exactly when is a question for another day).

I hope my headline doesn’t over-promise. No one has figured this out. But some smart college media people are “figuring,” and I’m passing along some of their thoughts in notes form.  Some of these points appeared in earlier “NOLA Notes” posts but bear repeating in this context.

Read the rest of this entry

NOLA Notes: The audience loves entertainment; is that scary or exciting?

Another in a series of posts drawn from notes taken at the National College Media Convention in New Orleans.

When the talk at the “Reinventing College Media” workshop in New Orleans turned to how much college students love entertainment news, The Daily Utah Chronicle General Manager Jake Sorensen said what I was thinking: “This is scary.”

Scary because most advisers and student editors live and breathe “hard” news. Hand over our front page to concert previews? Never!

But I was much less frightened after the day-long workshop. So here’s a brief summary and some thoughts of my own:

Read the rest of this entry

NOLA Notes: Winning the local digital audience when news isn’t breaking

Another in a series of posts drawn from my notes at the National College Media Convention in New Orleans.

We’ve established that breaking local news is critical to your success as a digital news outlet on campus. But news isn’t “breaking” all the time (unless you’re an annoying click-baiter). So you need to do a lot more to be part of the daily digital diet of your prospective audience. This post is full of suggestions from several leaders in digital-first campus media.

First, two quotes to encourage any journalist worried about whether “social” is taking over “news.”

“Quality matters.” — Erica Perel, newsroom adviser, Daily Tar Heel (serving the University of North Carolina).

“So do what the college press always has done. We were hyperlocal before the term was invented.” — Omar Sofradzija, editorial adviser, The State News (serving Michigan State University).

Read the rest of this entry

#collegemedia Thanksgiving turnabout: Do we deserve our audience’s thanks?

This Thanksgiving, why should our college media audience be thankful for us?

Permit me to offer three reasons — and to encourage you to think about how well you’re earning each category of appreciation from the members of your audience.

Read the rest of this entry

NOLA Notes: Tips for “owning” local breaking news online

Another in a series of posts drawn from notes taken at the National College Media Convention in New Orleans.

“Meaningful, local, breaking news works. … Once you break it, you own the story. People keep coming back to you.” The words came from Ryan Frank, president of the Emerald Media Group (serving the University of Oregon), and I heard no disagreement from any of the digital-savvy college media folks in New Orleans.

This means jumping onto big news in a big hurry, but it also means re-thinking coverage of scheduled events, like SGA meetings and sports. If you’re looking for big-picture thinking on a digital-first structure, this earlier post is for you. These are some examples and tips:

Read the rest of this entry