The need for information related to the current pandemic is bringing more audiences to news sites across the board — but through new distribution opportunities, nonprofit news outlets have an extra opportunity to gain new readers, insights into their audience and even earn additional revenue
Over the past few months, INN has been able to offer members new opportunities for third-party distribution through partnerships with Smart News, Patch, Spotlight, News Break and, most recently, Nextdoor. These platforms range in function, though all share member content through aggregation by location to connect readers to stories in their area.
“Our goal at INN is to strengthen the nonprofit news ecosystem, and one of the ways we do that is by helping members get their high-quality content in front of new audiences,” said Jonathan Kealing, INN’s chief network officer. “All of these distribution deals seek to help members bring in new audiences who, hopefully, will help them become more sustainable over time. And we’re always especially excited when we can pair a distribution opportunity with a revenue stream, to reinforce members’ business operations.”
One partnership in particular has helped members generate substantial revenue. According to statistics provided by Patch, the five most successful publishers on Patch have generated over 515,000 page views, combined, via Patch distribution in the first three months of the year. Because Patch pays INN members $0.01 per page view, those five publishers have generated a combined total of over $5,000 in just three months. Only about 20 members have signed up with Patch so far, but the five most successful publishers so far truly span INN’s membership: Chalkbeat, CalMatters, IndepthNH, Texas Tribune and Maryland Matters.
IndepthNH editor Nancy West lauded the Patch arrangement and said her publication had seen big benefits.
“I am thrilled. I took a few minutes to sign up with Patch.com. It was the only effort I had to put out, besides opening their check every month,” said West. "The total for the first three full months that I worked with Patch.com was almost $1,200, and I believe that will increase as readers look for in-depth reporting. Patch.com has a good reputation in NH and we have found new readers who then come to our website. It has been great — and I highly recommend the partnership.”
News Break and Smart News refer traffic back to member sites, exposing new readers to members’ sponsors, donor messaging, newsletter signups and more. News Break also provides an analytics dashboard, which members can use in their funding reports to showcase the additional scope of their reaching.
Spotlight, which also provides compensation to publishers directly, is further helping INN members by aggregating all COVID-19 coverage automatically. INN members can republish any COVID-19 story on this page for use on their own platforms. Spotlight has also been marketing INN members on their platform and amplifying INN members’ content across social media.
The Nextdoor partnership came together quickly and, for now, is limited to a subset of members who publish content relevant to a specific geography. Over time, INN hopes this partnership will grow to include more members and more Nextdoor communities.
The early results, however, are promising. INN member Voice of San Diego started working with Nextdoor recently and has already seen success.
“Having our content shared in Nextdoor’s local news feed has been a great way to engage with our community,” said VOSD engagement editor Megan Wood. “We’re interacting with new readers that we may not typically reach on other social media platforms.”
With Nextdoor and News Break, INN staff was able to add members to the platforms automatically, providing members the ability to opt out, rather than devoting staff time to signing up with a new platform, Kealing said. This was especially important with newsrooms stretched by the current pandemic, but future opportunities may also come this way as well, he added.
The process has been simple for them — provide an RSS feed and Nextdoor automatically injects the content into the platform.
INN members who are interested in any of these content distribution opportunities can reach out to Kealing at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more or get connected.