Champions tapping into women audiences with engaging content

FINANCIAL TIMES UK, Global

In addition to tracking gender balance and raising awareness internally, the FT has also launched several content-related initiatives to boost engagement among women subscribers. With its Long Story Short newsletter, the FT targets women subscribers with stories that interest them in a format that they have said they enjoy. Tailored to be a catch-up newsletter for busy women, it is sent out every Friday and combines the biggest stories and best reads in one email. For each edition, a different woman journalist from the

FT handpicks the story, sharing her personality, expertise, and interests while offering a ‘behind the scenes’ look at FT stories and the reasons they have caught her eye. The choice of stories is also informed by data on what women have been reading during the past week and includes both news and features on a range of topics. The reason for broadening coverage areas features is that the FT heard from women readers that they perceive the brand to be ‘just about finance’. The tone of the newsletter is deliberately distinct

from that of the core FT brand, more informal and conversational.

It also differs visually from the core product, featuring a different logo and colour palette as well as a more diverse range of people in the images used. It is not, however, explicitly branded as a women’s product. So far it has proved successful among the FT’s women audience, while also engaging men subscribers. Data from the third quarter of 2019 showed that it has a bigger audience among women than the FT average, and has higher open and clickthrough rates, up 3.5 percentage points year on year and 1.8 percentage points, respectively.

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST Global

Another initiative that grew out of the SCMP’s Hackathon focuses on generating targeted content for women, finding innovative ways to distribute it and building a community around it through a diverse set of platforms. Last month, the SCMP launched Lunar. It showcases content from across the newsroom as a curated package “with news, interviews and in-depth features about women, by women and for women”. In line with the cross-departmental and collaborative approach that characterises the SCMP’s gender balance initiatives, the team in charge of Lunar also encourage newsroom staff to think about developing stories that suit the platform, and shaping them in a way that might increase engagement among women.

The SCMP conducted audience research in order to better understand what type of content appeals to women readers. Some of the topic areas that stood out were diplomacy, regional news and society, which covers a broad range of social affairs, including education, issues of equality and cultural trends. “Women are interested in a really diverse range of content,” Warne says. “We don’t want to limit this or be narrow in our approach. We’re looking at content that not only features women but that interests and affects them. We want to be very broad in our definition of this.” (See The Financial Times Deep dive P. 32)

LUSAKA SUN Zambia

Creating engaging content for women is also a priority at the Lusaka Sun in Zambia, a standalone publication targeted at the country’s lower income class, and launched by the Daily Nation in January this year. Rather than focusing on political coverage, which is common among other Zambian news outlets, the Daily Nation’s executive editor Mary Mbewe says The Sun set out to highlight topics such as social issues, injustice and trade. Some 70% of the paper’s staff are women and one of the publication’s main audience category are traders, the majority of whom are women. Having such a high number

of women employees was a deliberate decision. “I feel that women are more empathetic to what is happening in the areas that we are targeting,” Mbewe says. “It’s easier for them to talk to fellow women in the compounds, for instance, or at the market, and for those people to open up, and tell their story and their struggle, and how they are managing to make it.”

As part of one of The Sun’s policies aimed at increasing gender balance, they publish at least one positive and inspiring story per week which features a woman as the main subject. The initiative has generated good readership, according to Mbewe, and led to more women coming forward to share their stories. To further encourage women’s participation and visibility, The Sun also launched a platform where they can share their stories, images or leave their information to be contacted in the future. In addition to the website and an epaper, which is currently under development, The Sun is working on a platform for mobile which will make it easier for its audience to access the paper’s content.

ARA Spain

At ARA, a Catalan daily newspaper, three journalists launched ARA Feminismes, an initiative aimed at creating and distributing content with a focus on gender perspective. Wanting to find a broader audience for the gender balanced stories they were already producing,

the three journalists behind the idea, Lara Bonilla, Marta Rodríguez and Thais Gutierrez, started work in the months leading up to 2019 International Women’s Day on March 8 and timed the launch to coincide with the event.

Now, ARA Feminismes actively distributes its content on ARA’s website, a weekly newsletter and via a Twitter and Facebook page with some 3,500 and 7,500 followers respectively. The grassroots initiative has garnered support from management and the trio behind it, who are leading the project in an unofficial capacity in addition to their other work, offer advice to colleagues on how to write gender balanced content. They encourage the newsroom to submit stories that would fit the ARA Feminismes brand. As part of the project, the team also launched several calls to action on the website in a bid to solicit input for stories from women. One of these led to a successful interactive article about problems and issues new mothers are experiencing, giving them an opportunity to voice their opinion about a rarely discussed topic in mainstream media.

Having found that women experts are more hesitant to speak to the media, regardless of their competency compared to their counterparts who are men, they next want to put together a database with women sources which the entire newsroom can draw on. Another company-wide initiative includes an analysis of gender balance in the newsroom and content, conducted by an external company.

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