It has never been more important for student media to have a strong digital presence. As you cut back on print, investments must be made to ramp up your online presence — on this page you’ll find some ideas for building up your capacity and infrastructure.
If you haven’t yet, we recommend you check out our page Student Media Financial Survival Strategies, where you’ll find financial strategies and tools geared specifically to high school and college journalists.
Build the team
Your annual budget may already include costs for things like an adviser position (and perhaps a general manager or other business-oriented job), student stipends, equipment replacement, print/distribution and rent/utilities.
If you don’t already have a business team or partnership with other departments on campus, you may want to make it a priority to map one out. Include stipends for business, advertising, marketing, design and videography students.
Every student newsroom has a different starting point as far as digital infrastructure, budget and capacity. Here is a (non-comprehensive) list of digital tools that may be worth investing in if you aren’t already. Send your suggestions to Diana Mitsu Klos
Note: SPLC is not endorsing any companies or service-providers, we encourage you to do your own due-diligence before hiring or partnering.
- Moving up to a premium plan for your content management system, which should include greater access to tech support.
- Paying for some customization to improve your website. This will include but is not limited to:
- Ensuring that the website is “responsive” and easily loads all platforms – most importantly, phones.
- Prominent “memberships” and donation boxes, if you pursue these income streams.
- Creation of pop-up pages that ask for email addresses for newsletters or podcasts alerts, donations, feedback, etc.
- Prominent placement of social media links – a key driver to your web pages. People are unlikely to visit your homepage daily, but social media will lead them directly to the content you select for them.
- Encrypted security on your website to receive and process donations and other financial transactions. If you’re lucky, your website services provider can help you set up the technical and security software. It’s not an easy process. Or, it might make sense to use a third-party provider.
- Pro plans for Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or similar systems to fully integrate social media strategy into your publication.
- MailChimp, Constant Contact or other newsletter tools.
- A text messaging service to deliver headlines.
- Improved audio equipment and distribution channels (iTunes, Spotify etc.) for Podcasts, if you can monetize via find sponsors/advertisers.
- Pro plans for Zoom, Microsoft Teams or similar online meeting tools so you can host events, student focus groups, and more. Of course reporters and ad reps will want to use it for their work as well.
- Web/digital analytic and content optimization tools like Parse.ly, which tracks where and how your visitors get to your website, and measures engagement with text, video and audio.
- A password manager, such as Lastpass or Dashlane.