Connecting with readers isn’t just a suggestion anymore — it’s a necessity.
In order to maintain its relevance and evolve to meet readers’ expectations, a yearbook must be part of a year-long experience rather than a product limited to one-time delivery. The sooner yearbook staff members step out of isolation and into the realm of social media, the more quickly their publication can evolve.
This session, “Involving your audience,” presented at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in April 2013, is designed to help all high school media students make progress in using social and digital tools for crowd sourcing and interaction with readers.
A few key takeaways:
- This focus on audience involvement requires new thinking. It pretty much destroys the traditional yearbook model of a static page ladder and students reporting on the topics they decide, shooting photos all by themselves and designing spreads for publication. Involving readers in the process means they help determine content, they lead to sources, they respond to polls and surveys, they contribute photos and they weigh in on likes and dislikes.
- It’s hard to measure. Sure, metrics exist for studying the reach of a social media post, but’s hard to tell the extent to which “being seen” or even a share or retweet actually affects — let alone benefits — a reader’s experience.
- It changes constantly. Just when we got a handle on best practices for Facebook, for example, kids stopped using it. New social tools emerge daily. Students must be willing to learn new tools and make strategic choices.