How USA TODAY provides live trial coverage using Subtext

A host making history. We’re talking USA TODAY and their latest Subtext campaign— State of Minnesota v. Derek Chauvin. The story that started 10 months ago and spurred nationwide protests on racism and police brutality, has made its way to a Minneapolis courtroom and these reporters are on the front lines. 

Through this campaign, the team is providing their audience with key updates from the courtroom where Derek Chauvin is on trial for the murder of George Floyd.

For the first time ever, a full criminal trial in Minnesota is being televised and though we naturally crave live access, some of us aren’t able to tune in all day. USA TODAY National correspondent Tami Abdollah confirms that for us.

“There is a real hunger for facts and answers about the details of the trial. It's been wonderful to be able to provide that. I have enjoyed receiving people’s feedback and learning about how much they value the details of our reporting. It's been really gratifying to receive instant feedback on each text message, including how our coverage enables them to track the trial since they don't have the ability to watch it, especially during the workday.”

In just a week, the campaign has grown to thousands of engaged subscribers.

Here's what they're doing right: 

1. Ask for feedback and apply it

We say it time and again, audience feedback is the best tool to measure the effectiveness of a campaign. Tami told us that checking in with the audience has helped inform her outreach approach.

I probably got the most responses when I asked them specifically for questions or feedback. When I asked whether we were messaging too much, I received double the amount of existing feedback telling me no, that they wanted more, in fact."

2. Use in-line links with a compelling CTA

They have been including CTA’s in all trial related articles. In fact, we learned a ton about their growth strategy when we caught up with Lindsay Deutsch, USA TODAY Loyalty Editor.

 “USA TODAY's articles have such a wide reach, both on its platforms and with partners like MSN. Our growth strategy is to put in-line CTAs with compelling, topical language in articles that are getting a large number of page views. These page views spike when there's a breaking news event, so timing is key. We also promote on all of our editorial social channels with similar attention to relevance and timing.”

Example

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 3. Post on social media, a lot

Since the campaign launched last Friday, several members of the team as well as the official USA TODAY twitter handle, have posted the campaign and urged followers to sign up to receive live updates on the trial.

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4. Promote across Subtext campaigns

USA Today runs multiple Subtext campaigns, so they did what our friends at CNET proved before. The team reengaged their 2020 Election campaign audience of over 6k subscribers by texting them to sign up for The State of Minnesota v. Derek Chauvin. That day, the campaign grew by several hundred subscribers.

 Lindsay shared how that made her feel “It was heartening because it shows people had a good experience with our texting. Several thanked us for providing the service again.”

5. Send supporting article links with updates

The team has been great about sending accompanying article links to support their coverage too. They’ve seen about 35% of the audience click on a link they’ve sent, which is an exceptional click rate.

Through this comprehensive approach, USA TODAY continues to provide need to know news to their audience in a very personal way. 

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