Collaborations are an important tactic in any digital news strategy, especially around election season.
Public media outlets in St. Louis are using that tactic for their election coverage in a project called "Beyond November." St Louis Public Radio, the St. Louis Beacon and Nine Network officially launched a “one-stop-shop” website this summer, and are in the midst of the collaboration that will continue, yes, beyond November.
12 Tips From Public Media Election Collaboration in St. Louis
1. Start Planning (and Hiring) Early
The planning for the project included months of establishing how it would work, who would contribute and who would be hired to take on a manager role. A collaboration like this is a marathon that needs a lot of check-in points, Raack shared.
2. Be Specific
The team involved has a written-out mission, focus and objectives. Nine Network established key metrics and outcomes to measure as the project happens so they could make changes as they went.
3. Say No to New Social Media Accounts
Use your time wisely. Instead of spending it promoting a new Facebook page or Twitter account, use the ones that already have fans and followers, Proud said.
4. Use the Strengths of Each Organization
Beyond November has a mix of reporters with political expertise and different media. Every organization and reporter has something unique to offer, making the sum greater than the parts.
5. Be Clear
Establish who does what and who has what responsibility. This also applies to nights that will have special coverage, such as a debate or election night. Put it on paper so everyone knows what they need to do, and no efforts are doubled.
6. Sell it Internally
Make sure your staff understands what the project is, what the goals are, how they'll be involved and how it will help their work.
7. Don’t Rely on Your Homepage
Homepage space is nice, but it is no silver bullet. In reality, increasing numbers of readers and listeners are coming to us "sideways" to specific stories through search and social media. A logo on a homepage is fine, but make sure you also aggregate and share resources on specific stories and social media.
8. Link Generously
Rely on your already established sites, social media and radio to link your work together.
9. Leave Your Desks
Beyond November and St. Louis Public Radio often go out into the community or hold events. In-person reporting and engagement are key to make a lasting impact in local news.
10. Get Local
It might be tempting to cover national races with the extra resources available. Instead, make sure to choose your battles and stick to your local mission.
11. Be Unique
There's a lot of election coverage out there. Beyond November's partners work to provide unique, deeper coverage that follows the facts. Readers and listeners can't get that elsewhere for much of the local politics coverage, Raack shared, so the collaboration is really standing out.
12. Be Flexible
There is a lot of planning, but when metrics show something or news changes, flexibility is key. The Missouri-based project couldn't guess that they would be reporting on a local story with great national interest, but they jumped on it and are a key news source.