The spotlight was on Tampa in August for the Republican National Convention. The news team at WUSF ran full throttle with on-air and online coverage, from the days before the convention, through the hurricane scare and the week of the convention itself. The result? The station broke all its previous website records.
WUSF News Director Scott Finn says his team of reporters and editors produced more than 100 stories and videos for the website. Those stories attracted more than 38,000 pageviews from more than 30,000 unique visitors. On an average day, the WUSF News site gets about 1,000 pageviews; that number climbed to 6,000 on August 29th.
Some stories getting the highest traffic:
- Two RNC Attendees Ejected After Throwing Nuts at Black Camerawoman
- Sarah Palin Stripper Talks Politics and the RNC
And it wasn't just the stories. WUSF online streaming the week of the convention was 37 percent higher than the same week one month earlier. The station's YouTube channel got more than 14,000 views of RNC videos. Thanks to news training from NPR Digital Services, Finn learned how to use Storify, and during the convention, he and his team created nine stories, which got more than 2,200 views.
Obviously, this was a watershed moment for WUSF. Finn and the team were ready for it, they had a plan, and they executed, with great results. Is there a long term benefit to all this success? Yes, again and again, we see that stations that do a good job covering major breaking news stories enjoy a "halo effect" of higher than usual traffic that persists, even after the event ends, as some of those visitors come back to the site to check out more stories.
Of course, the pressure is on to continue to produce great content so that audience will be satisfied and will come back yet again. But that's the pressure we face every day in this business of creating quality content for radio and online: meeting audience expectations, increasing audience, building loyalty and support.
We don't get the luxury of planning all of the breaking news stories we cover. But WUSF News made the most of the opportunity, and likely acquired some new fans in the process.
Looking for ways to juice up your election coverage? Check out our Procrastinator's Guide to Digital Election Coverage.
Hear more from Finn about WUSF's politics coverage in a webinar on how-to-use Core Publisher to cover the election on Oct. 18. Register here.