The news earlier this year in March, in which the New York Times digital report that was intended for its’ executives was leaked to Buzzfeed, caused a big uproar mainly because the 97-page report outlined the key challenges the business was facing in digital innovation.

After reading through the entire report myself, here are the top 10 takeaway points that people should consider when trying to improve their own audience development/digital publishing model:

  1. Evergreen content – find ways to repackage content for ongoing new visitor traffic, engaged visitors, and the “recirculation effect”. One key example was to create a topic guide, which was put together by from multiple existing articles and then placed in a specific hub on the site
  2. Create better website personalization tools for visitors to establish a deep connection
  3. Content discovery (through tagging and optimisation via SEO) is an important part of the everyday workflow that can help drive traffic to even archived content
  4. Your homepage is not necessarily the first place people land on when arriving at your site. Every page on your site should be considered as a homepage on the web
  5. Encourage user-generated content, not only for cost-effective content creation but for positioning the website as a platform to establish a deep connection with the website visitors and the brand
  6. Create a strategy for key news topics in order to amplify your promotional efforts. This should be done on an institutional level with collaboration across all departments.
  7. Experiment by publishing a piece of content quickly and then refining the content through cycles of continuous improvement – by measuring performance, studying results, shuttering on losers and building on winners
  8. Journalists are influencers and can be a driving force in increased social engagement – let them raise their profiles (promote themselves) and be the ones to help with your audience development efforts!
  9. Review your competitors based on strategy as opposed to content
  10. The Digital First Approach as a process, mindset and strategy are about creating in advance, an hour by hour plan in expanding on a package of related content for a given story across multiple digital platforms, in order to keep existing users on the site engaged for longer, whilst attracting new visitors.
Related:  News Impact Summit looks at the future of local news

As the authors of the report put it, “Every day we wait, we fall further behind our competitors.”

What are your thoughts on this report and some of the things you could do to improve your digital publishing efforts? Leave a comment below, or if you are up to it, read the entire report!

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