Behind the Scenes at The Washington Post

IPREX Visit Shows Newsroom Growing — Not Shrinking

How does The Washington Post remain relevant in a world of struggling newsrooms? A recent behind-the-scenes tour of the news giant showed me that it’s equal parts innovation and insight. Bill Mattern and I visited the newsroom with dozens of our PR agency partners from around the world as part of the annual IPREX Global Management Conference, and the experience was truly staggering.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Post in 2013, and since he took the reins the organization has grown exponentially while other newsrooms shrink. Leveraging the power of online analytics to target their readership, The Post is duking it out in an extremely competitive media market.

The key? Innovation. The Washington Post’s staff isn’t afraid to take risks to reach their audience. They are always on the lookout for the next big social media platform, engaging users in case it turns out to be the next Twitter. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes not, but it’s better to take the risk than miss out.

The Best Weatherman Ever

One success they shared is the unlikely tale of an Alabama TV meteorologist and the online discussion forum Reddit. While the forum has the possibly undeserved reputation as a harbor for internet trolls, users showed their softer side when praising meteorologist Alan Sealls of WKRG in Mobile, Alabama, for his calm and collected hurricane coverage.

Redditers dubbed Sealls the Bob Ross or Mr. Rogers of weather and launched a YouTube video of Sealls to Reddit’s front page, showing that even in a fast-paced online news world people want what they’ve always wanted in the face of danger — a comforting voice.

The Washington Post took notice. Through its official Reddit presence, the news giant reached out to Sealls, whose station had recently given him a “Best Weatherman Ever” trophy, and arranged an Ask Me Anything, a special Reddit Q&A session, for him. The event was a huge success, with some sites ranking it among the top Ask Me Anythings of Reddit history. And while Sealls was in the spotlight, the Washington Post got kudos, too.

Paying Attention

This story may not have the earth-shattering impact of hard news, but it did serve to increase The Washington Post’s collateral in the eyes of its readers, showing them that The Post is paying attention to their preferences, no matter what those are.

My visit to The Washington Post showed me an organization turning empathy and insight into action, finding innovative ways to deliver news and reaping the rewards. This is just one reason why Ripley PR is proud to be an IPREX partner. The organization gives us access to top professionals and thought leaders, allowing us insight into the communications industry to better serve our clients.

At Ripley PR, we put our knowledge and expertise to work for our clients in innovative ways every day. If you would like to learn more about partnering with our innovative agency, contact Ripley PR online or call (865) 977-1973.

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Heather Ripley, Founder/CEO

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