News analytics helps digital PR

News outlets are paying attention to analytics in an effort to learn more about what their audiences read and watch – and why. A recent report about a project conducted by the American Press Institute (API) reveals some interesting insights into what kind of content works, and why.

The main issue with news analytics is not, as many feared, that people only want to be entertained and don’t pay attention to serious issues anymore, but rather that the quality of data is not showing the true picture of news audiences and what they respond to. “News outlets mostly measure the wrong things,” writes Tom Rosenstiel, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution and Executive Director of API. He points out the difficulties with counting unique visitors and page views and says that for journalism to understand and extract usable insights from the data it must learn how to turn bad data into good.

The API conducted a project of content tagging by topic with 55 news publishers. Here are some of the key findings:

Major Enterprise Stories

The biggest payoff for news publishers would be to produce more high-value major enterprise stories. These stories generate 83% more page views, 39% more time spent reading the content and 103% more sharing activity than other topics. Currently only 1% of news content is about major enterprise.

PR lesson: If your client or brand is a major enterprise, look for newsworthy topics to pitch to the media. If not, pitch stories that have a major enterprise angle or hook. Find a way to tie your story into a major enterprise news item or trend.

Take an Original Angle

News stories that are unique, not just the facts of a breaking story that can be seen in many outlets, attract readers and viewers. However, it has to be original, not just another “take” on a story that is being covered elsewhere. These unique stories capture 30% higher engagement: 62% more page views and 101% more shares.

PR Lesson: Invest the time and energy to produce original, unique content that no-one else is covering. Do the research and produce excellent, original work. Make sure it will resonate with your audience. Currently only 5% of news content is an original initiative story.

Go Long

Contrary to idea that attention spans on the web are shrinking and you should keep your content short, this study revealed that people are reading longer news content – even on a mobile phone. They respond to quality and depth. So a 1200-word article with real substance will get 23% more engagement and 11% more views.

PR lesson: Take the time to produce content of real depth and value. Instead of dashing off ten 250 word blog posts with not much meat, research and write quality long-form content on your blog or newsroom. Provide journalists with the material they’d need to write and publish such a story.

The Power of Visual Content:

Stories with one photo scored 19% higher in engagement than stories without visuals. When you add more than one photo the engagement score jumps to 43% more. Audio and video also increase engagement by 36%, which translates to 81% more views and 84% more shares. .

PR lesson: Always include original images, video and audio in your content. And when you pitch a story to the media it’s essential to offer original, compelling visuals (not stock photos or talking head videos) that extend and enhance the viewers’ experience of the story. People want to feel part of a story and the right visuals give them that.

Either train your in-house team to research, write & publish quality content with powerful visuals, or find a Digital PR partner who can support your team and help them produce this kind of engaging content.