Driving direct relationships with readers isn’t easy.

This past month in Berlin, 14 German-language publishers got together to dive into their digital subscriptions strategies. During the event, the second session of the Facebook Journalism Project’s Reader Revenue Accelerator Program, several basic steps toward a more cohesive digital revenue strategy emerged.

“At the end of the day, your data is what proves value and helps you point your compass,” said program director Yasmin Namini, an independent digital media consultant and former chief consumer officer at The New York Times.
Here are some other tactics that were discussed at the Accelerator session. 

  1. Get everyone on the bus by earning the newsroom’s trust in this initiative. “Our editorial team was asking ‘will a data analyst now tell me what to write?’ We reiterated the main point: You decide what you’re writing about. We’re here to help make that topic better and offer more value to readers,” said Jürgen Risinger, Digital Product at Augsburger Allgemeine (Mediengruppe Pressedruck).
  2. Survey your organization to inform your Subscriptions North Star, or the one top-level subscriptions goal that everyone across the organization rallies around. You want your North Star to reflect your entire organization.
  3. Create dashboards for the editorial teams — ideally right on the newsroom walls — with insights on what content is driving the most engagement.
  4. Develop an article score for the editorial team that takes into account subscriptions and reach. This article score could be on a 1-10 or 1-100 scale. As long as you have a consistent formula, your newsroom will learn their baseline scores and set their own goals over time.
  5. Set up regular cross-functional meetings between the product, business, marketing, and editorial teams. Keep an ongoing conversation going about data-driven content creation.
  6. Create a “War Room” that provides a dedicated space for increasing subscriptions. Make sure the editorial team feels welcome in the space and has a seat at the table when the War Room team convenes.
  7. Create optimization guidelines for digital content that the newsroom can follow when producing content. These guidelines should reflect the insights your data has shown your team.

The Accelerator Program

The Facebook Journalism Project’s Accelerator Program helps news publishers build sustainable businesses. Funded and organized by the Facebook Journalism Project (FJP), each Accelerator includes a three-month period of hands-on workshops led by news industry veterans, grants administered by non-profit journalism organizations, and regular reports on best business practices. The Accelerator’s executive director is Tim Griggs, an independent consultant/advisor and former New York Times and Texas Tribune executive.

For monthly updates on the Accelerator Program, sign up for the FJP newsletter.