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Rethink your digital budget with these 3 tips

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Reprinted from GateHouse Newsroom

Print is no longer the first place readers go for news. So why is it that some newsrooms are still planning coverage around print, and posting to the web as an afterthought?

It's time for newsrooms to restructure their planning processes with digital at the forefront so that news is ready for readers when – and where – they want it. Rethinking entrenched newsroom processes can be daunting, though.

Last week, GateHouse Media News & Interactive held a training to help newsroom leaders figure out where to begin. Did you miss it? We've got you covered – read on for three of our favorite pieces of advice from the training, or download the whole presentation here.

Plan for the where, not just the what

Figure out what your big stories will be, and plan to give those pieces centerpiece treatment as the most visible stories on your site. These are the articles that should be decked out with elements like video, photo and interactive graphics.

Here's an example pulled from the StarNews' digital budget for Monday, June 6. Notice that although there were close to 60 stories posted to their news site that day, they used this column to plan out which of these stories would get star treatment on their site.

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Don't let social media go unplanned

If you're like most news outlets, social media is an important part of driving traffic to your site. Treat it like the key part of your digital strategy that it is by planning out your social media coverage in advance. Plus, when you plan for social, you enable yourself to spend less time throughout the day staring at Facebook and trying to figure out what to post.

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When you're planning out the social aspects of your digital budget, pay attention to your social insights and analytics to make informed decisions about what stories play well for your audiences. Make note of the times of day that your followers are most active on each particular network, and plan to get the most important or engaging news up accordingly.

Finally, don't just plan out what stories you'll post to social media. Also plan for what hashtags you'll use, who you'll tag in posts, and what photos and videos you'll include. If a reporter will be live tweeting an event, keep that in mind while you develop your budget.

Follow the numbers

Get it in your newsroom's daily workflow to consult metrics through programs like Facebook Insights, Google Analytics and Parse.ly. These numbers will tell you exactly what it is that your readers value and want to read. Sometimes, you'll find that an important story just isn't getting the traction you think it should be. Take a cue from analytics and experiment with different ways to present the content until you can see that it has begun to resonate with readers.

Analytics also allow you to see if old stories are trending again. This can be a sign that there's been new developments on the story, and tells you where to start digging for follow-up stories.

Lizzie Jespersen is the content initiatives coordinator at GateHouse Media, where she works with newsrooms to implement industry best practices. Before joining GateHouse, she worked as a freelance writer and photographer for Texas-based news publications and nonprofits.

Jespersen, digital

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