Why asking readers to share content with you is such a good idea

By: David Arkin
April 8, 2024
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How often do you ask your audience to share content with you? It’s a question I ask a lot of the companies I get the chance to work with as part of our engagements with newspapers, magazines and TV stations.

The answer is usually pretty consistent: We’re inconsistent.

There are times when it’s pretty obvious to ask: Photos from a big weather event, back to school and holiday lights.

But I want to break down why it’s a good idea to be consistent with call to actions, how to get content and how to work with organizations.

First, let’s talk about why you should do this regularly

Media organizations get a lot of content sent to them every day. That includes press releases, letters and requests for coverage. All of those avenues are helpful because they help you cover your community in meaningful ways.

But seeking the things you really want — not just what is important to an organization — can have a lot of upside for your media company. It can help get content into your products that you believe will have a lot of audience interest and potentially add to a niche or a product that is already popular with your readers.

If you treat it correctly — meaning you use as much of the content as possible — you’ll win the hearts of your readers, too.

Build a calendar of content you can use consistently

One of my favorite approaches when it comes to call-to-actions is to build a regular calendar of content you can use throughout the year. This means that you are asking for content at different times of the year.

In April, I would seek things things:

• Photos of Easter celebrations

• Family spring break photos

• Little league and youth soccer photos

• Why Earth Day is important essays

I like these approaches because they offer variety and give your community so many opportunities to engage and provide your company with the chance to create galleries and special pages showcasing so many local faces that may not typically make your site.

Tip: The ideas above could really work in any community, but anything that is very hyper local, like photos from a local festival, works even better.

Don’t just expect to get content. You have to work for it.

While asking for content is the first place to start, you shouldn’t expect magic to happen overnight. It takes some effort and work.

This means that you not only have to promote the call to action on Facebook, but have it on your website, in your newsletter and featured as a notification alert. But the thing that always seems most important is to reach out to groups that could partner with you around a specific call to action.

Here are some examples:

• Reach out to a school and ask kids to draw photos of their mom for Mother’s Day.

• See if a veterans group would participate in a “what does my country mean to me” short essay write up for Memorial Day.

• If there was an Easter event over the weekend, ask the organization to allow you to use their photos as a way to spur others to share for your own Easter callout.

The effort is worth it because it not only gets readers involved with your news organization, but it highlights more faces and voices from your community in your products.

David Arkin is the Founder and CEO of David Arkin Consulting. Contact him at david@davidarkinconsulting.com

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