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Executive Report - By Thomas Baekdal - March 2020

How important is audience engagement for publishers?

One of the weirdest things I have ever come across as a media analyst is the way publishers talk about audience engagement. While a few publishers do embrace this, many publishers think about audience engagement as a separate function, some only do it as a special project, and there are also those who think that audience engagement is detrimental to journalism. They think that if they start to listen to their readers, they will end up producing really crappy news.

What is worse is when I have discussed future focus or strategies with publishers, often those discussions never even mentioned the readers except as 'a market'. Instead, the focus would be on formats, platforms, or strategies.

Isn't that weird? Why is the reader such a secondary thing for many publishers? They should be the number one thing you think about every single second of every day.

And in this article, we are going to talk about why this is, and more importantly, how to do it.

I started with a brand

I want to start this topic by telling a personal story, which I have told many times before, because it has a big influence on how I think about things like this.

The story is that I didn't start my career in the media industry. I started in the fashion industry. First as a fashion designer, and later by being in charge of the digital media for one of the largest fashion companies in my country.

Why is this important, you ask? Well, it's important because, when you work at a fashion company (or most other brands), every single thing you do is with the customer in mind.

When the designer thinks about the next design, they are constantly thinking about whether this specific style will be something people would like to wear, what image it creates for them, and also how that reflects the uniqueness of the brand when they do so.

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What is Baekdal?

Baekdal is a magazine for media professionals, focusing on media analysis, trends, patterns, strategy, journalistic focus, and newsroom optimization. Since 2010, it has helped publishers in more than 40 countries, including big and small publishers like Condé Nast, Bonnier, Schibsted, NRC, and others, as well as companies like Google and Microsoft.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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