Events are a natural fit at news organizations because of their strengths and their role in their communities.
Local news organizations have three major assets when it comes to producing events.
The first is market penetration. Few organizations in geographic areas can claim to reach people in the way a local news publishers’ circulation does. Few organizations have the ability to deliver a message across print, mobile and social platforms. Fewer organizations have relationships based on information relevant to people’s lives in the community.
The second is brand recognition. With market penetration comes general awareness of your existence and credibility, even in the eyes of someone who doesn’t subscribe. People often know the name of the local paper, will recognize the logo and approach it with what most other brands would consider an enviable level of trust.
The third is staff skills. Local news publishers already have staff that greatly benefit the execution of events. These include people with skills in sales, graphics and marketing, writing, and technology. Staff can contribute to the events as part of the jobs that already exist. Producing effective events likely requires some people who focus solely on logistics, but some work may be done by current employees, too.
These three assets give news organizations a head start over competition when it comes to embarking on a strategy to earn revenue with events. Competitors such as think tanks, trade shows and universities are generally missing at least one of these major assets.
If a local news organization is seen by local residents as a “public square” – meaning it brings together differing views to facilitate public dialogue and encourage progress – stepping into this space seems logical, too. Events can be an extension of the editorial page, the comments section, the letters to the editor, and more.
Large organizations are seeing how events mesh with their more modern and expanded modern definition of community connector as well. “Connection” was one of three areas for improvement highlighted in the New York Times’ leaked innovation report (emphasis added):
Our readers are perhaps our greatest untapped resource,” the report read. “Deepening our connection with them both online and offline is critical in a world where content so often reaches its broadest audiences on the backs of other readers. And many readers have come to expect a two-way relationship with us, so they can engage with our journalism and our journalists. This means the newsroom as a whole must take the reins in pursuing user-generated content, events and other forms of engagement in a way that reflects our standards and values.