Of the many challenges facing media companies, the biggest is the increasingly enlarging digital landscape. Nowadays, to produce great journalism, media companies have to use more than text and photographs to satisfy readers. To create deeper, broader, smarter and more engaging news reports, media companies are looking to get their share of the growing digital audience.

The Washington Post just announced in March 2014 that it would begin to offer free digital access to its websites and apps to subscribers of a number of local newspapers around the country in an attempt to reach a larger digital audience. The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have developed and published news reading apps since a few years ago.

With newsrooms being customized for producing digital material, what can marketers learn from their best practices to develop and grow readership?

Liberal American online news aggregator Huffington Post and magazine-format app FlipBoard are winning the newsreader wars by driving the most visits and engagements to journalistic content. Not surprisingly, these two platforms have mobile-optimized visuals and high social sharing capabilities: two key components to a successful digital media site. 

Mobile packaging 

To focus on the reader’s experience, media companies have to strategize to have their staff truly prioritize and gravitate towards digital. Creating smartphone-optimized applications are ways to tap into readers’ free time in their busy, hectic lives.

According to a survey by the Media Insight Project, the average American adult uses four different devices or technologies for news. Among smartphone owners, 78 percent report using their device to get news.[1] The most common way that people get news is by going straight to a news organization’s website or app. Even then, the focus is on multimedia content: photo galleries, videos, infographics, and not merely the text in articles. 

Moreover, content is increasingly tailored to readers’ interests. Aside from showing relevant articles at the bottom of pages, readers can also opt for getting updates only on certain sections within a publication.

Making Creative Content

Instead of segregating the reader/customer experience unit from the newsroom/product development unit, the two should collaborate and be encouraged to work together to come up with new ways of showing content that would target a larger crowd of audience.

Aside from hiring talent with strong backgrounds in writing, technology, user experience, product and analytics, workers also have to be encouraged to play creative roles and not merely service roles. With creativity being ignited and maintained as a common vision of different departments, time and energy will be invested in the producing most innovative, focused and eye-catching content.

Contextualized Reach

To tap into the lives of audiences that are not avid readers of a media site, companies have to work on deepening their connection with them. In the digital age, readers expect a two-way relationship with media sources, so they can engage with the news and news writers. 

CBC.ca is taking the reins in pursuing user-generated content, including combining tweets concerning hot topics into their standard articles. This way, even mobile phone users tweeting from their devices could feel like the news organization takes into account their opinions and views.

During the Oscars 2014the New York Times tweeted a 161-year-old story about Solomon Northup, whose memoir was the basis for ’12 Years A Slave’. It went viral on social media, which led to another online media site, Gawker, fashioning a story based on excerpts from the Times article. It became one of their best-read items of the year. The Times succeeded in this case because they gave readers crucial contextual information to a live event, the Academy Awards, giving relevance and exclusive insights.


Point taken:

In a new generation of technologically inclined and empowered readers, marketers have to learn from successful media companies: put digital first and develop contextualized content.


[1] The American Press Institute. The Personal News Cycle: How Americans Choose to Get Their News. (2014) 


Want a demo on creative mobile apps that would promote your industry insights and contextualize them to the new digital frontier? Contact our Chief Experience Designer at pyan@genesisxd.com or call 416-595-9823.


GenesisXD, an Experience Design firm, helps our clients stay ahead of the curve with interactive mobile apps for marketing communications.