News Leadership 3.0

June 06, 2009

Be specific. Prioritize. Measure

At KDMC workshop for ethnic media leaders, USC/Annenberg journalism professor Dana Chinn advises editors to focus on specific audiences in developing new products

Dana Chinn presented ideas for identifying key audiences and missions for serving them online or in print at KDMC’s two-day workshop for leaders of ethnic media organizations this weekend in Atlanta, “Transforming Ethnic News Organizations for the Digital Now.”

“Focus on one audience and be as specific as you can,” Chinn advises.

Here is Chinn’s guide for planning a product for specific audiences:

1. Which online audiences do you need? Want?

2. OF those audience, which ONE audience is the mos urgent to address online?  Is it:
- an audience you need but you’re losing in either print or online?
- an audience you don’t have but which is essential for your survival?

3. What will make a significant difference with this audience? Is It”
-a change in your current online produce?
- a new online product

I like this list because it forces editors to set priorities. There are a lot of great ideas out there. But connecting the best idea to the most critical audience sets the news organization up to be able to measure very specific results and see what’s working (or not).

As for what to measure, Chinn says unique visitor counts are unreliable (after all, a visitor is a computer not a person). She advises watching trend lines rather than fixating on the numbers and tracking weekly, not daily, uniques.

Chinn advises using measures that track engagement, typically ratios that show how people are using the site:
- Visits per unique visitor. Do weekly visits correspond to the number of times weekly you update the site? Are you updating a lot more than visitors are coming to the site (say daily updates for people who tend to visit twice a week?)
- Page views per weekly unique visitors. When they are coming to your site, are they really engaging with the content? Chinn cites an example of 3.8 page views fora daily newspaper and says that seems low. On the other hand, if the page view number is very high, it could indicate visitors are having trouble finding what they want.
- Bounce rate of top entry page, usually the home. What percentage of visitors land on the home page and then leave. Even with a high number of visitors, a high bounce rate spells problems.

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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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