This is our third newsletter, and after introducing the founding team in our previous edition, this week, I wanted to offer a quick summary of the problems we are trying to tackle at Qurio.
It all started at AthensLive, around 2016, when I had to run a newly founded non-profit supported by 600 individual donors from all over the world, and it took so much time to engage with them over email.
Today, despite the pessimist news about the local newspaper industry in the U.S., digital media & non-profit newsrooms across the globe are flourishing for various reasons.
Throughout my career I often didn’t have the headspace and energy to engage with my community; I wished there was a digital assistant so I could ask for help. A few years later, I saw the problem growing as the number of nonprofits, and digital media startups increased.
But platforms and big-tech companies are getting a large part of the ad revenue. Hence, journalists must explore and establish multiple revenue streams and, much more importantly, trust. And there isn’t a better way to build trust between newsrooms and communities than audience-driven journalism and engaging with communities and audiences.
When we started about a year ago, we had a vague idea about the problems but wanted to verify more the quantity and quality of the problems around audience engagement.
Are there enough problems to solve, and does it make sense to solve them, or is everyone happy with existing solutions?
So we talked to newsrooms in the U.S. about their problems with audience engagement.
We heard from every organization we spoke to that they are understaffed, audience engagement is laborious, and very rewarding when performed in a personal and direct way that respects community members and makes them feel heard.
And most of the organizations we talked to are listening to their community through emails, social media, and reader surveys or “call-outs.”
We can’t fix email or social media (yet), but there was a pattern. Reader surveys. We could give it a try.
Here's what we heard during these interviews:
“Reader surveys need a lot of effort and preparation; they are hard to do, time-consuming.”
“Reader surveys don’t touch a large part of the audience but only a small & highly engaged part of it.”
“Reader surveys are ugly, feel alien, and don't pair well with the main content.”
“There’s no centralized way to process surveys’ responses (too many forms & documents).”
And they are 100% correct! Reader surveys require a considerable amount of work to gather data. On the other hand, the provided data, because they are organized per survey participant, can be clustered in many creative ways and can be used to run statistical analysis that can lead to exciting results that can turn into actionable editorial insights.
Insights that help newsrooms produce more relevant journalism to the information needs of their communities.
Callouts is a method that grew digitally due to the free tools out there and the need for newsrooms to get a better idea of their communities. The era of publishers treating the public as an anonymous mass is long overdue. Newsrooms are spending time and money to listen to their communities because the future of journalism and the media is all about vibrant and engaged communities that make an impact.
Somehow, we are doing what we want our future clients to do with their communities—auditing their needs.
Talking to newsrooms is an everlasting process for us. So apart from the product side, we keep trying to talk to as many newsrooms as possible so we can understand their needs and build something that fits their needs. Problems keep piling up, and we are here to help solve them.
Do you work in a newsroom? We’d love to hear about your problems with audience engagement. Also, we offer pro-bono coaching because we’ve been in your shoes and know how hard it is.
Or, if you know someone whose role is an audience or product role, please let us know!
That’s all for this week, and please, get in touch with any questions simply by responding to this email.
Next week I’ll try to reveal a few hints about how we will -hopefully- solve the problems mentioned earlier.
And don’t forget, we need a few more hands-on-deck and are hiring full-stack engineers to help us build Qurio. So feel free to share this email if someone you know is interested!
Enjoy your weekend!
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