It’s that time of year when we’re all thinking about goals, aspirations and priorities for the new year. It’s a blank slate and an exciting time to reset.
So, what does your to-do list look like for 2024?
When it comes to audience and revenue growth, there are lots of paths you could take this year, but here are the six areas I would spend the most effort and focus on.
1. 🔍 Adjust your SEO strategy
You simply have to make changes to your SEO strategy this year — if you didn’t last year — after Google rolled out a variety of adjustments that place a priority on personalization, experience and authority.
What to do: Make adjustments to your content strategy that aligns with showcasing your expertise and whenever you can, share personal experiences. This is especially important for things-to-do content. Create boxes that explain how you covered a story or how you built a list for someone. In addition, invest effort in keyword research and optimization. This will not only help your content get better search results, but many of the tools can provide you with new story ideas.
Bonus thing you should do: If you invest in one tool in 2024, make it one like SEMRush that provides unique data around keywords and search insights.
2. 🛠️ Build a digitally-focused content plan
It’s critical that your content isn’t being driven just from your legacy products like what’s in your newspaper or on your broadcast. Yes, you should be optimizing that content for the web, but you need a content plan that speaks to what your digital audience really wants. This isn’t a plan that just reacts to breaking news but one that has pre-planned features.
What to do: Establish the topics (using your data) that your audience wants digitally and create a weekly calendar of content you can consistently do. But also use your creativity to brainstorm areas that you aren’t spending time on that could generate more audience. Examples could include real estate, education lists and food and family guides, as well as answering reader questions.
3. 📹 Go all in on vertical video
I recently wrote about why vertical video is so important in 2024 but let me reiterate it again: If you focus on video, put your eggs in the Reels and Shorts basket. Social media companies are going to continue to prioritize this form of content.
What to do: You have to plan for vertical video. So, the same way you might plan art for the cover of your magazine, you should do the same thing for vertical video. Vertical video doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can be really fun. But it takes some planning to get a reporter thinking about what video they might capture for a Reel or a Short, before they head out on their assignment.
4. ⚙️ Get your workflow right
It’s hard to really do any of the things above if your workflows are broken or aren’t supporting the right things for your media company. Improved workflows can often mean new technology, but they don’t always have to. Ask yourself (or an expert, hint hint) if there are smarter or more efficient ways to operate. AI will be a real game changer in this area.
What to do: Document your current workflow (AI can help here), talk through why you are currently set up the way you are and discuss changes that could be more progressive. Often workflows exist because they just have always been that way. This is the time, especially with all of the tools available, to make a change.
5.🔥 Do more than experiment with AI
2023 was really about playing around and getting comfortable with AI. 2024 should be about how you actually apply it to your media company. Everyone has to find the right approach for them when it comes to AI, but if you aren’t actively pursuing ways to use it, someone else in your market is going to.
What to do: First, ensure you have standards that will guide what you will do and not do and the checks and balances that should be in place. Look at AI by products and processes and decide what will be a standard operating procedure and what you still need to test. There is some low hanging fruit (headlines, social media, process documentation), so do those first across your organization and then decide how to tackle the larger ones. But AI should be viewed as an opportunity to supplement the great work newsrooms are doing and make all of our jobs more efficient.
6. 📊 Develop or improve your branded content program
If you don’t have a branded content program, what are you waiting for? It’s a huge opportunity that aligns so well with what a media company excels with. Branded content is a different kind of sale so you have to make sure you are set up to win with the right program, pricing, content and distribution. (Hint hint we can help you).
What to do: If you have a branded content program, now is the right time to review all of the aspects of it. Put it under the microscope and talk to experts and those who do it well to update your approach, if it needs it. If you are new to branded content, work with someone who can help you get started. Yes, we can do this, but others can too, like the great folks at the Branded Content Project. The point is, use your network to figure out how to make what you do better or just get started.
7. 📧 Make your email newsletters great
Newsletters continue to be a critically important area for publishers and we were involved with a variety of inspirational projects in 2023 that greatly improved the reading experience and revenue opportunity of newsletters. We’re seeing interesting approaches with subscriber-only newsletters, many niche based approaches and products created around well-know journalists.
What to do: Take a step — or three — forward based on where you are at in your newsletter journey. If you’re just serving automated headlines, blend that newsletter with a mix of narrative storytelling. If you’re just selling banner ads, transition to featuring an advertiser’s marketing message (like a new product), sponsorship logos and creating products like display ad newsletters (and re-targeting of those) for branded content.
🤝 Let’s connect 💬
A new year is a refreshing and exciting time and is the perfect opportunity to think about what to focus on this year, whether new initiatives or improving what you already have. And yes, we can help in all of these areas above. Reach me at David@davidarkinconsulting. I’d love to chat.