In the fight for readership, publishers need to create deeper personal connections

In recent reports Newspaper readership is solid, people remain engaged with their favourite paper brands. Brilliant. 

However in coming months we're likely to see plays at paywalls or other monetization options. We're also seeing a massive shift in news consumption from physical to digital.

We're seeing QR codes creating a bridge from newsprint to browser. Whether people actually use them I don't know... do you?

There's lots to talk about... 

Last week I had a few drinks with a seasoned print media professional to share insights and ideas and discuss how physical and digital media consumption habits are changing.

I have my own user experience and that of my friends and family to draw from [plus anecdotal research from the interwebs] . The print specialist shared trends and insights from their research.

As soon as I wake up I reach for the iPhone, flick, tap open my News folder and begin the ritual of reading the latest stories from numerous apps. BBC, NZHerald and mostly Flipboard. [Check out my magazine "Where'd you spot that?"]

During the day I'm flicking around countless websites. Mostly I'm listening for stories shared by people I follow on Twitter, bloggers, authors, journalists, reporters etc.

And that leads to my revelation of the day. 

  • I look out for stories written by people I trust
  • I read through more of a story written by people I trust, look out for, follow
  • I'm likely to consume stories written by people I follow, trust etc across multiple publications and media, eg Duncan Garner
  • Most publishers don't highlight the author of articles. 

Over the last year or so we've seen more and more journalists, reporters and media commentators develop their personal brand online. Twitter, especially is connecting us in real time with the people that make the news on a daily basis.

A journalist with a strong personal brand is infinitely more valuable to the publication they're writing for.
Not only do people have strong engagement with media brands, they have strong engagement with media producers.

And yet publishers don't make a strong connection between the author of a story and their social profiles, or even other stories they have published recently. 

Interesting, well written, entertaining stories make me look at who the author is. If I can I will follow them on Twitter.

I want to do this so I can: 

  • Listen to conversations and discussions about the stories and issues they are writing about. 
  • Read and share their articles

To enable me to do this more easily publishers could;

  • Make author information more prominent, top of the page
  • Make it super easy [one click] to follow an author on Twitter
  • Connect me to the authors other recent articles
  • Connect me to the authors content published on other platforms, by other media networks

That might sound bold but by fostering a stronger connection between the author and I, I'm more likely to build trust in the publisher and return to consume more stories from that and other authors on that site. 

Conversations and debate on social networks makes stories and media consumption more relevant. Everyone wants to share or nurture their perspective on topics of interest,  print publications should encourage that.

So publishers; put your author bios and social links at the top of the story or in a pull out box near the top. Left at the bottom and many people are likely to miss them, leaving you with a missed opportunity to create a deeper social connection with your readers


People need to trust the media brand and the media source...