DPG Media focuses on user needs for the head and those for the heart

By Amalie Nash


Denver, Colorado, United States


DPG Media has had user needs since 2018.

“The most important thing is, it’s a conversation starter,” said Roy Wassink, insights manager at DPG Media. “It’s just the answer to the question: What’s the best way to tell this story? What’s the best way to make it valuable for our readers?

Continuing our discussion about the user needs modelDPG Media — like Berlingske Media — uses six needs, which they have divided into two categories: for the head and for the heart. It looks like this:

For the head:

  • Update me.

  • Give me context.

  • Help me.

For the heart:

  • Touch me.

  • Make me feel connected.

  • Surprise me.

An important overarching insight: Journalists were writing too many stories for the head and too few stories for the heart.

“We started very carefully on a small scale and we started manually, labeling the user needs. We used it as a conversation,” Wassink said. “We found that journalists were very positive about the user needs. They were less interested in the fancy data around it.”

After successful testing, DPG Media began building dashboards, Wassink said. The company also started training its own AI model to automate coding content based on user needs. It’s 81% accurate, he said, allowing articles to be automatically updated by user needs.

Building a common language around user needs is essential, Wassink said. He offered three practical applications for user needs:

  • Use user needs when pitching topics. Let each pitch consist of topic, audience needs, and angle.

  • Create a follow-up with the user needs. See which news generates a lot of reach and then think of a valuable follow-up in a different user need.

  • Determine together which needs you want to meet in an average edition. And use that as a guideline in your daily schedule.

The next application: Using AI and user needs to suggest headlines and intros.

“We have a model, we have a dashboard, we have a training programme, and now we’re in the next step — tooling,” he said.

One tool: “The Headline King,” a headline tool based on user needs. It offers 10 headlines in the correct user needs.

“Every user need has specific headlines,” he said. “Every journalist can use it as an inspirational tool.”

Wassink’s advice for those considering user needs:

  • Discuss the model; make it your own.

  • Score every article (using a LLM).

  • Integrate user needs in dashboarding.

  • Train (and retrain) editorial teams.

  • Provide practical applications for everyday work.

  • Integrate user needs in tooling.

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About Amalie Nash

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