Friday Buzz: Analytics Annoyances

Analytics are essential to understanding how things work, but the editorial world generally doesn't have good analytics, a new Brookings Institution report argues. Plus: how to write an amazing nut graph for your next news release.

In the publishing world, analytics are vital in understanding how people read, access, and consume content. But some data only provides the facts and not necessarily the “why” behind them. Take page views, for example: The metric tells how many users visited a page but not why they visited.

New research from the Brookings Institution aims to fill that gap. Tom Rosenstiel, a nonresident senior fellow at the think tank, recently studied “journalism’s hidden problem: terrible analytics.”

Rosenstiel is also the executive director of the American Press Institute, which partnered with 55 publications and looked at more than 400,000 stories in the project. The research examined what drives reader engagement [PDF], including the following three features:

In-depth enterprise reporting—like the work portrayed in the Oscar-nominated film Spotlight—costs a lot of money to create, but it also drives much stronger results. Despite that, major enterprise stories make up just 1 percent of all content.

Photos, audio, and video contribute to higher success in getting something viewed online. An article with a single photo is 19 percent more likely to be clicked on than one without, and an article with multiple photos is 43 percent more likely to be viewed.

Longer stories get more traction. Long-form pieces that average 1,200 words garner 23 percent more engagement—clicks, shares, and time spent on the page—than shorter pieces. This goes against traditional thinking that shorter pieces do better online.

Check out Rosenstiel’s study [PDF] for more ideas.

Nut Graph Priorities

Every news release needs one thing: a nut graph.

A staple of good journalistic writing, a nut graph cuts to the chase. Organizations pitching a news release to the media need to get to the point quickly.

“If you can quickly and concisely identify why the story you are pitching is important, you stand a better chance of convincing the reporter that it is a story worth telling,” nonprofit marketer Kivi Leroux Miller writes at her nonprofit communications blog. She shares five questions to ask yourself to help strengthen your nut graph.

Links for Your Day

Is mobile marketing on your mind? The team at the SocialFish shares several tips on mobile tools, app development, texting opportunities, and mobile site optimization to boost mobile power.

Your brain doesn’t have to deteriorate. It’s still possible to grow, learn, and create. Tracy Leigh Hazzard, CEO of Hazz Design, writing on Inc., describes three ways to train your brain to think in new ways.

We’ve all been there: We’ve procrastinated, we’ve missed a deadline, we’ve sent in weak work. Courtney Seiter at Lifehacker says productive failure can be an opportunity for improving our learning capabilities down the line.


Patrick deHahn

By Patrick deHahn

Patrick deHahn is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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