The community outreach team: A progress report

First published at the Missourian’s Transition blog.

In August, I wrote to Missourian readers about what I hoped my new community outreach team would do. Now I’d like to share some of what we’re doing day to day.

Here’s a running list of the tasks we’re assigned, beginning with some routine ones and leading up to some exciting experiments. Many of these come straight out of the community engagement discussion guide I published as part of my fellowship at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. Many are also inspired by or directly borrowed from what I learned through a series of interviews.

Daily and weekly newsroom duties

  • Monitor and, when appropriate, participate in comments on
  • Take charge of and strategize for the Missourian’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • Monitor email that comes to the newsroom for story ideas and for posts for our citizen journalism site, MyMissourian.
  • Attend daily news meetings at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., as well as individual beat meetings, looking for ways we can contribute.
  • Review the daily news budget for stories that would benefit from discussion about audience, in terms of collaboration, online conversation, comments, etc. — or in terms of finding the right audience and taking the content to them. Suggest to the reporters and editors how the community might help us report or share the news.
  • When appropriate, tweet out reports after the news meetings of what our staff is working on.
  • Search social media for what people are talking about. Report back about what you’re hearing. Monitor Google alerts and Twitter searches for the newsroom, and see if any beats or topics would benefit from having new ones set up.
  • Be ready for breaking news. Be prepared to help find sources, solicit community content, live-blog and use social media to report to the community, hand out fliers door to door — whatever makes sense for the situation.
  • Look for chances to share the story behind the story, by doing a podcast, Q&A or video interview with the journalists.
  • Look for archive coverage or CoMoYouKnow posts that could be relevant to users today. Consider adding them to our coverage online and sharing them on social platforms.
  • Look for ways that content being produced today will be relevant or could be repacked in the future, and for ways that content in our archives might be useful today.
  • Leave the newsroom. Find a place to listen, and report back about what you’re hearing.
  • Compile weekly analytics reports for the Missourian. Share highlights at a news meeting.
  • Aggregate the best of Missourian comments, for Web once a week and print twice a week.
  • Look for opportunities to create Twitter lists to help people follow or digest the news.
  • Look through plans for event coverage for opportunities for live blogs or live chats.

Longer-term project ideas

  • Assess whether the Missourian should be offering an email subscription or text message service.
  • Update and improve our about page, contact us page and staff bio pages.
  • Craft or update newsroom policies for social media and for contributing to comments.
  • Come up with new ways to share analytics information, both internally and with our users.
  • Make a list of all the ways users can get in touch with the newsroom and individual journalists — all of them, from online comments to letters to stopping journalists on the street. Figure out which ones we want to encourage, and turn that into a list for publication and for internal use.
  • Make a list, with descriptions, of campus and city media, blogs and other information sources, and figure out how to make that a community resource.
  • Determine if there’s a Columbia or Mizzou network of people on social media sites such as YouTube, Quora, Google+ and LinkedIn. See if there’s a way to share that information with our users.
  • Create a Facebook welcome page. Assess what we’re learning and could be learning from Facebook Insights (the analytics tool).
  • Come up with a plan for introducing users to each other. Should we feature a Facebook fan, Twitter follower, frequent commenter, blogger, etc., each week?
  • Think about what we’d like to enlist our community to help us cover, from sharing photos of JV basketball games to live blogging community meetings.
  • Brainstorm how we could bring more users into the newsroom — for budget meetings, story help and special events.
  • Brainstorm how we could use our photo archives to interact with the community.
  • Brainstorm how we could share information about Columbia’s history or Mizzou’s history. Could we do an oral history project? Or ask people to share memories about a specific time, place or event?
  • Figure out how the Missourian could take news tips and photos via text message — and promote that.
  • Consider creating a Twitter account just to retweet interesting things from campus — or the whole city.
  • Consider how we could steal an idea from video stores or bookstores and create a “staff picks” or “what we’re reading” section.
  • Brainstorm ways to make our staff of editors more accessible to the community. Stories? Videos? A Facebook album?
  • Brainstorm ways the Missourian could be using check-in platforms like Foursquare and Gowalla to interact with the community and add a location-based element to our information.

I know we won’t get to all of this, and I truly hope it’s just the beginning of our experiment.

What are we missing?


2 thoughts on “The community outreach team: A progress report

    1. Two large Supermarket cnhias stopped distributing their flyers with the local paper. That says alot about circulation. I’ve also noticed that coupons are now coming in the mail, and not in the Sunday paper.

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