Crisis offers news publishers chance to become essential to readers

By Shelley Seale

INMA

Austin, Texas, United States

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Editor’s note: This is a brief synopsis of content from the INMA Virtual World Congress, May 5-28. Attendees will have access to speaker presentations and robust follow-up reports.

Mario Garcia shared his favourite publisher stories of inspiration and innovation during the COVID-19 crisis to date on Tuesday, during the first module of INMA’s Virtual World Congress. He also offered a challenge to news media companies.

“I believe that the COVID-19 epidemic offers news brands a tremendous opportunity to become essential,” Garcia, CEO of Garcia Media, said. “You can offer service information that will stay with the readers, and it will be a reminder of what your brand can do.”

Dr. Mario Garcia encouraged attendees at INMA's Virtual World Congress to look for opportunities in the crisis.
Dr. Mario Garcia encouraged attendees at INMA's Virtual World Congress to look for opportunities in the crisis.

This crisis is a golden opportunity to:

  • Package through visuals: Users/readers will be able to locate helpful virus content across platforms instantly and easily.
  • Develop a strong social media component: Social platforms can market COVID-19 content extensively.
  • Become and stay essential: In the lives of readers, content and packaging are the keys.

“All over, audiences are very interested in getting this type of content, this type of service, from your brand,” Garcia said. COVID-19 opened the gates to let new audiences in, especially through digital and mobile.

Hindustan Times created social media cards on topics such as Frequently Asked Questions and Emergency Numbers.
Hindustan Times created social media cards on topics such as Frequently Asked Questions and Emergency Numbers.

Garcia shared with the 330 virtual attendees from 43 countries case studies from The Washington Post, Hindustan Times, The New York Times — all of which are offering impressive content and audience experience.

“When we emerge from this,” he said, “people will remember which brands serviced them best.”

Great time for real transformation

Transformation is the first part of Garcia’s book, The Story.

“That is even more important today, because COVID-19 has, in a way, sped up the process of why we need to transform,” he said.

The way a news story evolves today keeps moving through different platforms and as the story grows. It can be published and consumed via mobile, social media, push notifications, newsletters, apps, video, multimedia, and print.

“If your newsroom was not doing this a year-and-a-half, two years ago, you were behind,” Garcia told the audience. “If in the post-COVID era you’re not doing this, I have bad news for you: I don’t think you are going to survive.”

Time to be a storyteller

Before COVID-19 or after, the story continues to be the key, Garcia said. But there are now more platforms in which to present the story, along with a technology that allows more choices for journalists.

The Washington Post clearly marks its COVID-related content.
The Washington Post clearly marks its COVID-related content.

“I believe that this is a golden opportunity to take your brand, organise your COVID content in such a way that it’s packaged, and remember the oldest rule of journalism: Don’t write about the entire army. Write about Lieutenant Dan, who’s sitting down to write a letter to his mother. We need to do more stories about individual people coping with this because there are not enough of those stories.”

If you have a good story, people will read it, and that has not changed in 50 years, Garcia added.

“I think this is one of the best times to be a storyteller. If you and your newsrooms have not made changes to move more digitally, you skip the digital-first and go more mobile-first — because it will be a more mobile world when we get out of this.”

The Virtual World Congress will continue Thursday, May 7.

Banner image courtesy of Hero Image, cloudlynx from Pixabay.

About Shelley Seale

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