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Engagement editor: a crucial role in today's newsroom

As high-quality, relevant content has become an increasingly important engagement tool, we've heard the same thing time and again: established brands need to follow the model of large scale publishers.

An inverse pattern of sorts is also emerging within the traditional publishing world, where publishers are now needing to think more commercially. The ability to produce high-quality, relevant content is these organisations' bread and butter. However, old print-based models have now fallen into obsolescence due to the rise of online and mobile media consumption: in the age of Twitter, anyone (not just professional journalists and news outlets) can break a game-changing story. Writers can self-publish, and lone bloggers and vloggers can command audiences of millions.

The democratisation of information has presented serious challenges for the publishing world – it's no longer simply a case of printing papers and relying on a loyal reader base and stable circulation. In today's newsrooms, there's a need to consider which stories will resonate with the audience, which channels will generate the most clicks, likes, and shares, and which topics will stir up conversation and debate in the comment sections.

A critical skills gap has become apparent within 21st century newsrooms: the ability to create and leverage two-way engagement. Enter the "Audience Engagement Editor". A recent article from Mediashift offers an interesting overview of this increasingly common role in the media world:

Audience engagement once meant fielding reader complaints, publishing letters to the editor and creating reader polls – responsibilities often split among several editors... News outlets came to recognise that they weren’t doing enough to engage their audiences and could do so with increasing ease given new digital platforms. Engagement editors are tasked with determining how and where to reach readers.

An engagement editor straddles a number of editorial, marketing and community management disciplines in order to oversee (and optimise) audience engagement activity. The many varying, yet related, tasks of an engagement editor boil down to three key areas:

  • Social media management: Using social channels as key platforms for promoting and leveraging editorial content to drive conversations.

  • Converting analytics into insights: Using analytics data to identify key behavioural trends and refine the digital content offering for maximum engagement.

  • Editorial strategy and planning: Feeding data and insights into wider areas of the business – turning user data into innovation, or to inform and shape future editorial strategy.

As Mediashift suggests, the engagement editor is just the latest example of a role that has been created to plug the gap in an industry-wide skills deficiency when it comes to data analysis, community management and online marketing.

While the role of journalists and editors has traditionally revolved around sourcing, researching and writing stories, there is growing demand for a more multi-faceted skillset that incorporates marketing, social and data analysis proficiency – as well as the ability to write compelling editorial. That's why we can expect to see digital-savvy engagement editors playing a crucial role in newsrooms for the foreseeable future.

As this trend demonstrates, audience engagement is becoming an urgent priority for both brands and publishing houses. At censhare, we're helping businesses to plan, manage, create and distribute content efficiently and cost-effectively across multiple channels. To find out how our communications solutions helped Migros, Switzerland's largest retailer, to centrally manage its print, social and website activity, see our case study.