Content Distribution Strategy for Journalists: Publish in All the Right Places
Once you’ve gathered all your information and crafted the perfect story, it’s time to think about how to push it live. As a modern journalist, you are faced with quite a few options for publishing content.
You must decide how you will promote the story, where it will be hosted and what kinds of ancillary content you’ll publish. For example, do you have videos that go along with your story? Will you produce an audio recording of the entire story? What platforms can you leverage the photos you collected during your investigation?
Content Distribution for Modern Journalists
What’s in this chapter?
- Long-Form Video Stories and Livestreams
- Short-Form Video News Stories and Updates
- Web Articles and Updates
- Photos and Captions
One approach is to publish everything on every platform and hope that people engage with all of it. Of course, that will take a considerable amount of time, and won’t focus the audience’s attention on your full story. Instead, be strategic about what content you publish where. Lay out all of your options and carefully decide what platform is the most appropriate for the content you produce.
If you aren’t sure what all your options are, allow us to help you.
Long-Form Video Stories and Livestreams
Although people may be turning away from the TV, they aren’t turning away from long-form content. In fact, on YouTube, a platform that has over 1.8 billion users, videos that are 20 minutes or longer are performing better than the short-form videos of 2 minutes or less.
This trend puts you in the perfect position to get your story in front of people. In addition to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram also offer hosting for long-form videos and have at least a billion users each. Leverage the technology to create a documentary-style video about your story. With software like iMovie, you can quickly create a video narrative that will engage audiences and give your story a visual element.
Additionally, each of these online platforms allow users to host their own live streams. You won’t be able to live stream your entire process, but you will be able to create some unique events once your story is live. Use your live stream events as a way to discuss the nuances of your story or encourage people to ask questions about your report in a town-hall style setting.
Perhaps you want to read your story aloud to your followers as a way to get them engaged and excited about the stories you’re publishing. As you know by now, the community you create around the work you produce is what will set you apart from other journalists. Any way that you can provide exclusive content to support your story and connect with your audience will help you thrive as a modern journalist.
Short-Form Video News Stories and Updates
As long as there is an internet, there will be a reason for short-form videos. Shorter videos are especially important for reaching new audiences who may not know the kind of reporter you are or the why behind your latest story.
Just as every movie has a trailer to get people intrigued, you should produce a short video to summarize your report and make people want to understand the complete story. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook favor posts that include a short-form video with closed captions, so make a habit of getting your content captioned. You’ll get even more traction out of the clips if you post them to YouTube as well because videos on YouTube can be embedded into blogs posted to other sites.
For example, let’s say you investigate the rise of a certain genre of music in America. It’s likely that popular music blogs will write their own short summary of your piece and push their traffic to your story. With the embedded video clip on their site, you have a better chance of getting people interested in your report. You also ensure that you are in control of your own story.
Blogs and other stations that use your video clip to talk about your story won’t be able to change the context or alter the facts. They will be forced to play your video and present your story the way you intended. In terms of journalistic integrity, this is the kind of guarantee you want.
Another use for short-form videos is making updates to your story. Often, a powerful piece of journalism will spark the right conversations in the community. We see time and time again how one investigation can lead to new evidence or policy change or activism. As the story develops and changes are made because of your story, you’ll need a way to update your audience. Short videos are the perfect way to do this.
Web Articles and Updates
The most common way to publish your work is on a website as an article. You have the option of publishing the article on your own website or trying to sell it to a major publication. There are pros and cons to each option, including monetary considerations, but the most important thing is sharing the URL everywhere you can.
Twitter and LinkedIn are the best sites for sharing links to your work. Certainly, post your link to Facebook, Instagram and in any email newsletter you might own or have a relationship with. But Twitter and LinkedIn are particularly powerful when you combine your link with hashtags. Think strategically about the hashtags that make the most sense for your article and include those in the caption of your post. With a single hashtag, you can double the visibility of your post, which is powerful for journalists with smaller audiences.
Links are also helpful because they are dynamic. If a new development is added to your story, it is difficult to update a video and impossible to update a live stream. With text updates, you can make edits directly to the article without having to worry about updating posts with your link. The person who clicks on the link you posted 3 weeks ago will land on the web article with the most current information. No need to change the link or update the LinkedIn post or tweet. When you’re juggling multiple stories at once, the ability to quickly update information without jumping from platform to platform will become invaluable.
Photos and Captions
Finally, consider posting images to Instagram and using the caption as a way to spark conversation about your story. Instagram doesn’t currently offer an easy way for users to click a link from their feed, but that doesn’t mean that you should ignore it completely. Outside of using Instagram’s video and live stream functionality, you can encourage community engagement with captions and the comment section.
Post images from your story with interesting captions that ask questions of your audience. Use pull-quotes from your story or shocking data to create buzz around your post. As engagement continues to rise on your post, Instagram will consider it a popular post and feature it on the Explore page, thus increasing your potential audience.
Make sure to include relevant hashtags on your photo posts as well to be found by a broader audience on Instagram as well. Limit your hashtags to only a handful per post to ensure that you don’t appear as a spam profile to people unfamiliar with your work.
It is not enough to simply post, no matter where you publish or what kind of content you use. A modern journalist must also engage with the comments. Make a practice of returning to each publishing platform to read what the audience is saying about your work and respond thoughtfully. People want journalists they can trust, and the fastest way to earn that trust is to become familiar and accessible. Show up to the platforms where your audience is and prove that you’re grateful for their support and thoughtful responses to your work. It goes much farther than you can imagine.
5. Network and Build Relationships with Social Media
On the topic of creating a community around your work, modern journalists should use social media as a tool to create a bigger network and stronger relationships with people in the industry. Don’t limit your potential by using your social profiles as a one-way conversation. Act as an audience member on each platform for other journalists in the industry.
Create a list of journalists you admire or publications you want to submit work to and make a habit of engaging with their posts in a thoughtful way. Inundating them with likes and generic comments won’t get you the kind of attention you’re after. You need to prove that you read their articles and were moved, in some way, by what they created.
Ask questions to the authors, comment on a particularly powerful section or create parallels between their topics and stories that you’ve also investigated. The more frequently you champion other people’s work, the better. You have to be a participant in the space as often as you are a publisher if you want to build strong relationships.
Editors often use social media as a place to request pitches from writers and journalists. Follow the editors you admire and keep an eye on their updates. You might find they are in search of a new story that aligns with your current work. Even if they don’t ask for something similar to what you’re working on, you’ll get a sense of the topics they prefer. You can use that information to inform the next story you investigate.
All these efforts will help grow your influence and earning potential. You will have people in your network who will advocate for you, hire you, volunteer their time and skills to your story or simply tell you they enjoyed what you created. These are the people you want in your virtual corner if you’re interested in a sustained career in journalism.
Navigate The Modern Journalist’s Guide to Success:
- Rewind, back to Ch. 2: New Media Tools for Journalists: How to Leverage the Modern Digital Toolbox
- Keep reading, head to Ch. 4: Personal Branding for the Modern Journalist: Building Credibility
- See our journalist survey including the New York Times, Forbes, and more: Journalist Survey Results