Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Bring Back Relevancy, Not Basic

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Bring Back Relevancy, Not Basic

Article excerpt

Digital headlines once attributed the decline in newspaper readership to a loss of relevancy. What prevents today's medium of choice from sliding in a similar fashion? Nothing. Digital jargon may help you sound convincing, but once the waves of "it" phrases and SEO-centric tactics die down, digital publishing success lies in the still waters of relevancy. While seemingly simple, relevancy is the only "tactic" worth discussing.

Rich in intrinsic value, relevancy speaks to tribes on both sides--the creators and the consumers. It signals quality and a focus on the reader. It drives every piece of any successful content production and distribution model, from the individual branded writer to the niche blog publisher and the mainstream digital news network. And, digital measures of success are now built to reward relevancy.

By all accounts, relevancy is a basic concept, but this isn't a back-to-the-basics approach. Develop a layered plan that places good editorial judgment at the core of your strategy.

Delivering content is your business, so treat each piece of content or each category like a mini entrepreneurial endeavor. The first step for any entrepreneur, before branding or promotion, is audience identification. Not just who, but what and why. Where in the customer journey are your readers?

Building your audience understanding beyond standard media kit demographics means identifying personas. Fictional characters or personas are created based on data to represent different reader types.

Personas should include basic demographic information (marital status, age, occupation and so on) but the true richness and content value lies in behaviors and consumption patterns. For example, where does Jane, a 32-year-old teacher in Chicago like to shop? How much time does she spend online and what are her social leanings?

The path to data-backed audience archetypes, like Jane, varies. Whether you opt to purchase audience research for your content niche and/or survey regular readers, remember not to rely on assumptions when building personas. Do the research and don't overlook the value of social media in this process. Gathering demographics, preferences and brand identification from readers' Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedln profiles is an accessible and cost-effective approach to deep audience identification. …

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