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Briggs: Online tools help news media know their audience

March 30, 2010

By John Garcia

Author and entrepreneur Mark Briggs spoke about the implementation of data in the newsroom at the NewsTrain conference held at the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights, Ill.  March 26-27.

The lecture, entitled “Know Your Audience,” provided tips and points on how to bring newsrooms up to speed by utilizing social media and data analyzation.

“Digital audiences are your audiences,” said Briggs, the author of Journalism Next.

The fact that different channels are being used to get news out to the public was highlighted during the lecture, thus establishing online news as becoming more pertinent.

“The state of news media is changing,” said Briggs. “There has been growth in cable and online news and de-growths in local TV, magazines and newspapers.”

Briggs emphasized the idea of using online tools such as Google Analytics in order to track audiences and their habits towards news sites.

“You need to use data to plan your strategy,” said Briggs. “It is important to have this information.”

Garnering this information allows newsrooms to more accurately evaluate their content in order to plan strategies to reach a larger audience.

“In the online world, you can actually say ‘Our readers love that story’ and vice versa,” said Briggs. “Everything is measurable online.”

Sites like Google Analytics show the common trends of web sites, including popular search terms and other sites that have linked to them. Many of these sites are social media web sites such as Twitter and Facebook and therefore they should be utilized, Briggs said.

“Facebook drives more traffic than Google News these days,” said Briggs. “You need to pay attention to what people are searching for.”

Briggs said e-mail is an excellent source of getting news out to audiences, despite having a reputation of being a common tool.

“E-mail is a huge opportunity to deliver content,” he said.

Briggs also spoke about the evolving life of the newspaper and how, thanks to the Internet, news is just a few clicks away.

“If news is really important, it will find you,” said Briggs. “And not only will it find you, you won’t be able to escape it.”

It is this attitude that should inspire newsrooms, according to Briggs, to put an “action plan” into place in order to reach a larger audience.

“After analyzing data, it is imperative to set aggressive but realistic goals in areas that have potential,” said Briggs.


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