The following quote should be required reading in every newsroom in the U.S. tomorrow morning.
Shortly after polls closed last night, my wife got a text message from Obama’s campaign. He was the projected winner of the South Carolina primary.
A few minutes later I logged into Gmail, where Obama had already sent me an email about the victory and where I could watch his speech.
About a half an hour later a friend in Washington sent me a text with the percentage breakdowns.
This morning I logged on to Facebook to see a notification from Obama, a simple copy/paste job from the email sent earlier.
Sometime today, I’ll watch his speech and Clinton’s concession speech on YouTube, since I was busy playing Super Mario Galaxy while he actually gave the speech.
Except for a CNN breaking update I got via Twitter last night (after Obama’s text message), I knew who won the primary without ever seeing a newspaper or TV site.
Only today, when I checked CNN’s excellent primary elections section did I go to an MSM site. News that I care about comes to me, despite the source.
I, like many other people, only go looking for news (on my days off) if something has first come to me to pique my interest. Then I find a site with valuable, contextual information laid out in a way that I can explore the data (in this case, exit polls). I can passively receive information I’d like to know.
If you’re not actively seeking out your audience, you’re doing something wrong.
Media organizations should be doing the same thing Obama does. It should be everywhere I am and it should provide valuable, easy-to-use added context and content if and when I decide to hit their sites.
There’s obviously one point to be made here — that news organizations need to make it a practice to push out their content to every available channel.
But the other lesson is: Your audience is also sharing what they know, either informally, or via special-interest sources. The big question is, when your audience wants more and trusted information, are they going to find it on your web site as soon as they want it?
Web-first publishing needs to become a newsroom habit. It’s the thing you do automatically, so that when any size story breaks, and your audience wants more and trusted information — and a place to discuss it — your site is ready for them.