How Local Publishers Should Post Each Issue Online & Engage Your Print Audience (Video) - Updated August 2019

in Community Content Engine, Local Publisher Processes

You're a local print publisher and your publication just went to print, now what should you do?

This is the position a lot of local publishers find themselves in. You know you need to post content online and that you should probably schedule some sort of email newsletter and Facebook is beckoning you to post something.

Our In-This-Issue (ITI) Approach is the key to getting maximum value out of your print content online. If you're posting your print articles, want to rank better on Google, make your content searchable and generate an ongoing archive - continue reading!

So where do you start?

Follow this plan to engage your audience, work smarter and grow your revenue.

Follow the In-This-Issue Approach

Once you've completed your print edition (with your CTA's and business basics page) and shipped it off to the printer, it's time to post your content online.

How you go about doing this will have a significant impact on traffic and engagement. 

The common inclination is to simply post a digital edition (aka a flipbook) and call it a day but there are several reasons why this alone is a bad idea.

First, most digital editions aren't searchable by Google so not posting each article as an individual article will have a significant impact on your traffic over time.

Second, generally digital editions are hosted on a 3rd party's website which again will affect your search rankings.

Third, it makes it difficult to thoughtfully incorporate your online-only content.

Our suggested way of posting content is called the In-This-Issue (ITI) Approach and it goes as follows:

  • Post your print content online as actual articles. The extra couple hours of work it will take to post each article as text will yield tremendous long term benefits.
    If that seems daunting, try starting with only your featured articles and then adding other articles as you get comfortable posting content online. 
  • Post any online-only content that is complementary to your current issue.
    In the case of the "cutting" room floor type of content, it may make sense to simply include it along with the original article or, if there is enough content to justify a separate article, you can post it as such and link out to it from the end of the print article.

  • Create a new article that introduces the issue (kind of like a publisher letter) and links out to all related content from steps 1 and 2. This is the ITI post. It's also a great place to embed your digital edition if you are so inclined. 
  • Add the ITI article to your home page and place a sidebar graphic prominently in the sidebar to drive traffic and attention.
  • Update your archives page to include the new ITI post
  • In our Community Content Engine, the archives page updates automatically and simply adding an issue-specific tag to each article such as "August 2019" enables you to include every article on the ITI with an image, title, description and links - automatically!

    Each print issue should have its own hub on your website, the ITI approach consolidates content and grows engagement.

    Implement the Print-to-Web Strategy to Get Even More Value

    It's not enough to just post content online, you have to let people know about it.

    Each print issue should incorporate thoughtful calls-to-action (CTA) in print to encourage your print readers to go online for related digital content and to continue their experience.

    We call this the Print-to-Web approach because the simple act of including thoughtful (prominent and visual) CTAs can extend your readers experience beyond the page and get them interacting with your brand in a positive way.

    Think about it this way, if they want to know more when they've finished reading an article and you don't offer them a way to do so then you will lose them to the Googleverse. A lost opportunity...

    You should also include a page in every issue that highlights your website, email newsletter and other social profiles. We call this the business basics page.

    When growing your audience why not start with your current readers?

    Engage the Community

    Now that you've posted all your content online, it's time to promote it!

    Start by crafting an email to your loyal readers/email subscribers. The email should highlight the print and digital content from the issue (hint: reuse the copy from the ITI post by copying and pasting it into the email.

    It may require some basic formatting but it will save you from having to retype everything) and should link back to your ITI post.

    Including your top stories in the subject line is also a great way to increase your open rate.

    It's also a great opportunity to remind business owners and event hosts to post events and claim their business on your website (assuming you offer such services). Remember, many of your readers are also business owners which is a dynamic that is unique to local publishers.

    You should also make sure to share the ITI post to Facebook, Twitter and any other social profile you use regularly.

    You can also share individual articles, events, and business profiles over the next several weeks giving you a way to continually drive traffic to your site between issues.

    Make sure to let any individuals or businesses know if they were referenced in print as well and encourage them to share it with their customers/audience.

    Download the Print Publisher Checklist

    This checklist will prepare you to post your next issue online and help ensure every issue makes an impact.

    Download Now

    Identify New Opportunities & Plan Ahead

    Review your print lineup before going to print and identify extra content that got cut from print and could be used online such as extra photos, recipes or unused sidebars (the "cutting" room floor).

    Additionally, you should evaluate each story for opportunities to expand them online via contests, Q&A with a local expert, videos, a list of upcoming events, etc.

    Just like in print, you should begin planning these online extras at the same time as you print lineup and they should be included in your editorial calendar. When the issue is being planned, you can promote the online-extras to your print audience.

    This way you can ask writers, photographers and even business owners to provide extra content as your having the original conversations about each article.

    Looking for a little help executing your digital strategy? Talk with us about our local publisher technology and programs.

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