Email for Newsrooms: A Research Summary

Email for Newsrooms: A Research Summary

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January 16, 2019, 11:17 am

In 2018, Fast Company declared that email is “the next great media platform.” Yes, 2018, not 1988. And this after, in 2008, The Wall Street Journal  had pronounced the death of email as the core communications vehicle of the digital age.

After nearly a decade of decrying email as a rusty old relic of the early internet days, journalists and media outlets are coming to rely more and more on the email newsletter as the backbone of their audience engagement and growth strategies.

Ultimately, monetizing digital news requires capturing, retaining, and converting audience attention – and nothing does that more reliably than email.

Over the last year, the Single Subject News Project, part of the News Business Models team at the Shorenstein Center, has been looking at how small nonprofit newsrooms are using email, and specifically email newsletters. They’ve:

How much attention is your email audience giving your email products? Can you convert that attention to dollars? In November the Shorenstein Center’s technology team rolled out the beta version of a new benchmarking tool for newsrooms that use MailChimp to send and track their newsletters. The tool helps newsrooms track repeat audience attention over time and provides benchmarks against peer groups.

Now, we’re excited to launch the next phase of our team’s work on email for newsrooms: NewsletterGuide.org. The newsletter guide is a comprehensive summary of all of the research we’ve done on email for newsrooms, including:

  • Why publish a newsletter?
  • What kind of newsletter is right for your goals?
  • Workflows for producing quality newsletters
  • List growth for newsrooms
  • Email as a revenue stream, and
  • Evaluating your email metrics

We’re thrilled to be publishing this guide with help from the Lenfest Institute, which has also done significant work on the hows and whys of email for news. And thanks to Yellow Brim for building the free, open source email newsletter templates that you can download and adapt for your own newsroom’s newsletter.

We can’t wait to hear what you think. Please share the guide (we’re using #EmailGuide on Twitter) with folks who work on email for newsrooms, or use it to make the case for new or different kinds of audience engagement at your outlets.

Long live the (effective) email newsletter!