People access news from a variety of devices nowadays. Anywhere we go, there’s instant access to content through a mere tap of a finger.
This age of hyper-connectivity demands to change the way content is created and distributed, allowing for a more meaningful audience experiences. But sometimes, technology evolve faster than news organisations can adapt. So while this means better consumption and great convenience for the news audience, it’s not the same case with publishers who can’t keep up with the audience’s demand.
So with the struggle to keep up with the devices and platforms that seem to develop overnight, how can news publishers tackle this multiplatform environment? Leah Betancourt of the Editor and Publisher has five tips:
Understand the capability and technologies
Publishers need to evaluate the technology to make sure it allows them to up their game. Press Reader’s chief content officer Nikolay Malyarov said publishers should look at whether the product supports all the existing and emerging platforms. He said they should look at the quality and operational capability of the product. “You cannot be reactive. It’s not something that you can build overnight,” he said. But don’t just look at the product, understand the vision and the roadmap. “A lot of times, when folks look at vendors and partners, they just look at the product. Instead of that they ought to look at a particular vision or the way the partner thinks about the world and what the future holds to ensure that vision aligns with yours.”
Get designers and developers involved in editorial meetings so you’re working from the same set of plans, vision and understanding of the technical boundaries of the project. Michelle Manafy, editorial director at the Online Publishers Association, said The New York Times recently started to embed technologists into its editorial teams to encourage a more robust integration technology and the craft of journalism itself. “You don’t have this disconnect between the technology team and the creative team,” she said.
Know the medium
Understand that mobile is new and growing, and is not yet fully formed. The way people consume data and advertising on mobile devices is different than on the desktop. It’s faster and akin to snacking as opposed to absorbing information. “Have you designed a product to reflect that?” said Digital First’s Dave Elchoness. “It’s experimenting; it’s prototyping; it’s measuring how people interact with the product and iterating very quickly to account for behavior.”
Know your audience
Gauge what pops with readers and reach out to them specifically on that platform. Manafy said the A.H. Belo Corp. has seen a big spike in the consumption of its high school sports content. Belo takes a chunk of that content and repackages it for mobile because it’s predominantly consumed on mobile devices. “The big, sticky thing is real-time sports score reporting from high school sports. Know your audiences, know your content offerings and leverage those insights, for example, to repackage your existing content into really creative products that can generate additional revenue,” she said.
Do your apps look like every other app offered by that same provider? There’s also differentiation with action, design, utility or presentation. David Link, co-founder of The Wonderfactory, pointed out Quartz’s website layout in which there is a list of scrollable headlines on the left side, and the right side is a scrollable opened, full view of each story. He said that’s a trend that has been picking up in a lot of different news organizations in which the organization talks to its news clients about differentiating by making news actionable and useful and not just something that you read. For example, The Wonder Factory made a prototype for a sports section of a newspaper that involves taking a 3D engine from a game. Viewers can watch it rendered in 3D, a way in which they were unable to watch games in the past.
Multiplatform publishing success isn’t guaranteed in five tips, though this is a start. Often, publishers are left to develop strategies based on instinct. But you can count on it, that every platform is a learning opportunity.