Credit: Jacqueline Munguía on Unsplash

"The generalist times in the media are over," wrote Dmitry Shishkin, the soon-to-be CEO of Ringier Media International, in his Nieman Lab predictions for 2024. And he knows what he is talking about - Shishkin has been pioneering the user needs model in the media for nearly a decade, starting at the BBC World Service.

Listen: Executing the user needs model 2.0 with Dmitry Shishkin

Why do you need to pay attention to user needs you may ask? The answer is simple: the internet is inundated with content. To stand out, you need focus and quality, or else you end up either being drowned by the noise or not creating the best content for your readers. In both cases, your users will simply go elsewhere because they can.

Creating a user needs strategy is less daunting than it looks. To help you get started, the content analytics company smartocto published a new playbook that breaks down the process into 15 steps.

The basics of user needs model

A media brand needs to identify user needs to understand why readers or viewers are consuming its content. Once you understand the why, you can start measuring how successfully you are delivering what they need.

There are four main reasons why the audience comes to your stories: they want to know something, they want to understand something, they want to feel something and they want to do something. smartocto then identified eight universal needs that the users have which sit under these four drivers.

But every news brand has unique content and users so you need to do some legwork to understand what your audience's needs are and spot the nuances.

The playbook takes you through a series of exercises that help you identify what makes your brand unique, complete with examples and tips from media executives who trodded that path before. Bonus points for guidance on how to enlist ChatGPT to help you write your mission statement and identify your target audience.

Join the club of media brands that already have their own user needs model, like BBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mediahuis, The Conversation, The Atlantic, Vogue, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Al Jazeera, and many more.

You can download the smartocto playbook for free here.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).