Data insights and analytics are essential to the modern newsroom for understanding what their audience is interested in. This applies to national newspapers, local journalism, magazines, digital publishers, and broadcast outlets.
For a news agency, it can be a bit trickier to understand what content is working and what isn’t when multiple news providers are picking up your work. PA Media have been working to address this issue and in a recent webinar, talked through the changes they’ve made and how Smartocto has helped to inform editorial decisions.
Exploring the data
PA Media wanted to understand the value of their content. They created a new section on their website called PA Media Explore, allowing customers to find all the articles that staff produced (last year, they produced over 100,000 articles). Through analytics and insight, they have been able to track where their content appears and also analyse and explore the usage of it.
In 2022, their articles were viewed 8.6 million times online, there were 150,000 print articles in national papers, and they had 2.3 million Explore article views as well. All these analytics and insight, plus customer feedback, is helping to inform their strategy going forward for both editorial and product development.
Checking on performance
The editorial output at PA Media is very much shaped by the data. They undertake a content review to see how articles are performing, what topics/keywords are being covered, and if readers are interested in it. This means they can focus on the lower performing content and decide if it needs to be cut or changed.
For example, the tennis coverage between major tournaments didn’t get as much engagement from readers as expected. The team decided to cut down on this content, giving the tennis correspondent more time to focus on other stories, which then performed better.
At the height of Partygate, a lot of related stories were covering the keyword ‘coronavirus’. The content performed well, showing that readers wanted to hear more about this issue. This validated a decision to produce more content around Partygate with follow-ups and interviews.
Enhancing editorial output
The editorial output at PA Media has been further informed by the work that SmartOcto do. They currently work with over 300 newsrooms across Europe and help PA Media by giving them different notifications on articles to advise them what they should do with it. These notifications include:
- Distribution – saying where articles should go (e.g. Facebook or Twitter) and where it will get more reach.
- Value – writing follow-ups to articles that have got a lot of attention or pushing an article higher up on the homepage if it’s helping to drive conversions.
- Press agency – stories about a certain section are being downloaded a lot, follow-up with different perspectives.
They are looking at bringing more notifications in, including corrections (if an article has had a lot of corrections made to it then maybe look at it in more detail) and updates (if an article has been downloaded by all the big broadcasters then maybe it needs to be updated now). There is then weekly feedback on whether the notifications were useful and any missed opportunities, plus a dashboard with pageviews, conversion rates, and more.
All of this data is beneficial to informing the editorial output, but there are some editorial decisions that PA Media have to make themselves. Well-known for producing House of Lords and House of Commons reports, the team will continue to supply this, even if the analytics and insights might show they aren’t performing as well.
Want to use data to inform your own editorial content? Consider what your brand is known for and what your audience may expect from you before making any drastic changes. Ultimately though, more information can help news outlets be both reactive to breaking news and proactive at adding in more to support the article, and audience, further.