The New York Times is exploring multiple new ways of engaging with readers as part of its ongoing efforts to recruit and retain new subscribers, including joining the dots between its journalism and how that affects the wider world.

“I think that subscribers definitely understand the value that The New York Times brings,” Tracie Lee, product design director at The New York Times, told a SXSW 2019 audience in Austin, Texas.

“They think about the mission – seeking the truth, and that we’re helping people to understand the truth – and they really value that,” she said.

But that’s not necessarily the case for those who aren’t paying, Lee added, admitting that “the Times, for a long time, has taken for granted that people understood … the value and impact that we make on the world”.

The challenge then is to get this group of people to understand why the Times is different and why they should pay.

“In the past few years, we’ve really changed the way that we deliver that message,” she said. (For more details, read WARC’s report: : How The New York Times views news and ads in the digital age.)

One way is to seek to connect a piece of breaking news to subsequent developments and encourage a better understanding of the effects of the newspaper’s journalism.

“When you read an article, how did it actually break through in the end? And did that article actually make an impact?” Lee proposed.

“I think we need to do a better job of closing that loop, [and] of saying, ‘Here’s a piece of journalism, but what actually happened in the world?’ I think that isn’t quite there; it’s missing a little bit.”

A simple demonstration could be to flag up content in fuller ways. “It’s having native messaging that’s paired with that content to really say, ‘Hey, you’ve read this story. There’s more here. There’s more that we provide,’” said Lee.

“I don’t think it’s advertising; I think it’s [building] a relationship with subscribers. It’s really differentiating who we are.”

Sourced from WARC