Digital Game-Changers

Make your issue-focused websites and online newsrooms snack rooms for viewers who can munch on chunks of information designed to win hearts, quell fears and redirect a public conversation.Websites, microsites and online newsrooms have become ubiquitous, but not always as useful as they could be in helping to manage a tough issue.

Here are six ideas to make your digital platforms matter — with more relevant, engaging and persuasive content: 

Make your site a "linkable asset"

That requires developing content of interest to your target audience. Dense backgrounders or self-serving fluff won't pull viewers or keep them engaged very long. But solid, credible information will — especially if displayed in visually accessible ways with charts, videos and well-packaged text. Providing valuable information, which is updated regularly, will convince people to bookmark your site and return. It even may lead to your site being linked to other sites, expanding your viewership and outreach.

Give viewers "information snacks"

Giving viewers good content doesn't mean trying to tell them everything you know about a subject. The concept of less is better than more prevails. Design your information as if people were eating snacks instead of a 7-course feast. Yes, provide details —in layers that the most interested and devoted readers will click to find without bogging down the more casual, quick readers. Here is a great example of snack-size information in a CNN post about a host of developments in the Boston bombing case.

Create a "content panorama"

When people enter a room, they scope it out to see who is there and where the bar is located. The same holds true for websites and online newsrooms. Online viewers start with a big view to see what's available before diving in to read specific content. Your job is to make the panorama fetching with eye-catching visuals, snappy headlines and content that gets to the point. Don't forget to make your design clean and your content clear so scanners can find what they are looking for without squinting or searching. This is a perfect assignment for an online newsroom, which can be home to a wide range of content that tells your story in many different ways. 

Integrate your "digital platforms"

Have a purpose for each of your digital platforms. That can mean, for example, putting more personal or playful content on a Facebook page, visual assets on Pinterest and creating strong links to each on a website and online newsroom. Don't forget YouTube for videos, which is a great way to drive clicks to your website, not to mention show off your creative side. And self-publishing an e-book offers opportunities to serialize your content and engage viewers. Clicks, shares and likes all add up to a growing audience of fans and followers.

Emphasize "third-party validators"

You are dealing with a touchy issue, probably in the face of a skeptical, perhaps even angry audience. They aren't going to take your word as gospel. You need to find sources your audience sees as credible who can validate your claims. This can be a game-changer, redirecting a public conversation to facts instead of slogans.

Express a "point of view"

We are talking about issues management, after all. You have a point of view, so don't shy away from expressing it. This is an opportunity to tell your story, unfiltered by the media or anyone else. Of course, this doesn't mean ranting and raving like a lunatic. It means artfully telling your story in a way that wins hearts and minds, or at least quells fears and doubts.