Kevin Anderson has been working in the digital space for two decades, holding managerial roles at the BBC, the Guardian and Gannett. His online network is one of the foundations of a must-read daily email newsletter rounding up developments in the field. In a special guest post for OJB, Emily Lowes speaks to the freelance journalist and digital strategist about email newsletters and his advice for others looking to get started.
Kevin Anderson has been publishing a daily email newsletter on Nuzzel — an online service which offers news discovery and curation based on users’ interests — for over two years now. He says that Nuzzel newsletters “can help journalists build their profile and intentionally serve their audiences better”.
“Working in the media means you need to maintain your profile otherwise you’ll disappear into obscurity, you need to find some sense of your place in the profession,” he says.
“Ten years ago blogging was the way to build your profile, but the newsletter introduces you to the idea of what your audience is really interested in.
“In the past we used to go on what we thought, now people can implicitly let us know what they are interested in and that allows us to reach our audience better.
“This is important in a commercial context and a public media context, so I think getting into the habit of looking at your metrics, sign ups, what people are reading and clicking through… This starts that development about audience development and audience engagement which is key in building a career.”
Promoting reader engagement
Anderson, a specialist in audience development and commercial strategies, began blogging over ten years ago but in recent years began to notice a lack of engagement from his audience.
“It’s been challenging to gain attention with blogs, everyone who has one has seen a dramatic fall with it.”
Instead, he found that the personal newsletter he ran through Nuzzel was gaining more attention, which he believes is partly down to the metrics that the site provides in order to help serve the users.
“Nuzzel tells me each week which stories seem to be getting the most attention among my readers, so there are things I will share on there based on what people are interested in.
“I will also read through subscribers from time-to-time and see where they’re based, so I can make sure the newsletter is relevant.”
He says that the industry is using newsletters because the idea that you can build a business purely on scale, such as the number of readers or followers, simply no longer works.
“It’s more important to have a loyal, engaged audience that comes back to you on a regular basis.”
Filtering news consumption
Another way Anderson believes Nuzzel helps journalists serve audiences more effectively is because it allows people to tune in to and out of what they want to read.
“What I am always aware of is how I consume news as a professional and non-professional. I am constantly tuning my filter.
“One thing that is consistent with news readers and professionals is that we feel slightly overwhelmed. And so I think the general public is finding ways to filter out news, maybe that’s social media or maybe that’s just turning off.
“We’re always looking to figure out ways to be more efficient in terms of getting the news we need to do our jobs. So for me, Nuzzel is really valuable as it provides me with a filtered view of topics that are relevant.”
Similar, he says, to the way that Twitter lists provide a filtered flow of tweets to suit our purposes, newsletters like this are growing in popularity. The New York Times, for example, is now implementing newsletters on their website which you can sign up for depending on which content you view on their site.
“I think also when you look at apps and the fact you can decide which topics you get notifications on: that’s another thing in terms of filtering your news flow, and it’s another way to engage members of your loyal audience around certain topics.”