The publishing industry was already going through a difficult time before the pandemic arrived, but something is true, the coronavirus crisis has brought out the best in all of us. Making us bring our creative selves to life and thinking of new ways to redefine the market. These are some news and publishing companies who are succeeding in finding new content formats to connect with their audiences during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Washington Post The Washington Post is one of the most established news media companies in America and they had been struggling to connect with the younger audiences for a long time. Since, they hired Dave Jorgenson, a 29-year-old video producer, to create audio-visual content for the creative video team to bring in younger viewers.
Now, during the pandemic, the TikTok account has reached new heights for the Post. Created with the tagline “We are a Newspaper”, appealing to the app’s audience, and according to Jorgenson’s words “I thought it would be funny to approach the account as if my parents or grandparents created it”.
The Post’s TikTok account currently has close to 550,000 followers and more than 23 million likes. Although normally the TikToks would feature journalists playing funny situations on their day to day roles, nowadays Dave Jorgenson is the main director, producer, and lead role, inside his quarantined set, aka his home.
BuzzFeed is another media company engaging with a younger audience through social media. The WP is in the process of hiring three “teen ambassadors” who will create news content for TikTok and Instagram. The ambassadors were originally going to cover the 2020 presidential election, however, they will most likely cover COVID-19 as well, said Sara Yasin, director of the news curation.
This is just one example of how brands can follow different paths and experiment with new tones to get closer to diverse types of audiences.
In January, The Economist decided to launch a podcast entirely dedicated to cover the 2020 U.S presidential election.
Now, podcasts are booming, they are the new radio stations for people, to listen in the car, while watching roksa videos, at the office or while cooking, people like them and listen because they offer valuable and creative audio content in almost every subject known to man, for free or at a very low cost. Besides, it doesn’t have to represent a large investment or to be a big production.
“Doing podcasts doesn’t mean you have to do ‘Dirty John’ (the popular Los Angeles Times true-crime podcast). Just get your sports guys out there to do a quick little Saturday show. If you embrace it, it will work”, said Rob Connelly, director of digital audio at The Economist.
In their podcast and newsletter called “Checks and Balance”, the magazine aims to provide their audience with specialized analysis and a global view of democracy in America. Each week, the host, John Prideaux, the magazine’s U.S. editor, speaks with Charlotte Howard, New York bureau chief and energy and commodities editor, and Jon Fasman, Washington correspondent to deliver a roundup of the magazine’s best election coverage in each week’s newsletter and focus on a specific theme shaping up in the race in its podcast.
“The issues that have been swept under the rug are boiling to the top.” @MayorColvin tells our “Checks and Balance” podcast why he was moved by protests in Fayetteville, North Carolina https://t.co/fPV321LXG8
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) June 6, 2020
Tampa Bay Times
First of all, newsletters are one of the biggest drivers in converting readers into subscribers, since they have become a way to inform readers and give them a compromise-free trial of our journalist work.
Many media companies produce several newsletters covering different topics to reach a wide variety of their readers’ mailboxes. The Tampa Bay Times’ most popular newsletter is “DayStarter” which surprisingly used to be a weekly automated email.
However, the Times’ saw the opportunity during the coronavirus pandemic to give a human voice to DayStarter and get closer to their readers. Despite their usual weekly schedule, when the coronavirus news started taking over the headlines, DayStarter began to include those stories in a section and delivering headlines six days a week. And in response to the disheartening coronavirus news out there, the Times began to share a “daily dose of relief,” which could include a photograph of a cute animal.
Prefer to catch up via newsletter? Our (free) DayStarter concisely rounds up the #coronavirus pandemic news — and more — with a little stress relief.
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) March 14, 2020
Since changing the newsletter, the subscriber list has grown to 100,000 subscribers and Bassinger said the number continues to increase as people are looking for trustworthy coronavirus information. Because of that, the Times has seen a 10 percent subscriber increase, a 30 percent open rate increase, and a 60 percent click-through rate increase.
It is now more important than ever to understand that the need for professional journalism isn’t over and that it will never be shadowed with fake news or by all of the shallow information we can find on the internet.
On the contrary, people require reliable sources of information, especially after we have seen since the coronavirus outbreak the actual threat that fake or scandalous news poses to our mental and physical health.
Our work as publishers is still of vital importance, we only need to change the way we deliver this information to fit the current times and our current and everchanging audiences’ needs.