4 things to know about GateHouse Media’s Choose Your Own Adventure audience growth tool

Summer Moore
Published in
3 min readAug 8, 2018

Like everyone in the industry, we at GateHouse Media have been working on training tools for our newsrooms to analyze their traffic and improve it in a meaningful way.

After some brainstorming and some discussions with newsrooms, we kept getting stuck on the same things that we always struggle with: How do we provide something useful, that’s fun and engaging?

We kept coming back to those Choose Your Own Adventure books we read as kids. Those were so engaging because you had to keep reading to find out what happened based on what you wanted the characters to do.

In that vein, we developed Choose Your Path, an interactive tool for our newsrooms to capitalize on strong traffic days and improve when it’s slow.

Here are 4 things you should know about our new tool.

  1. It was made for newsrooms.

When we thought about creating a tool that newsrooms could use to make small changes and think more digitally, we knew the tool had to be easy to use, interactive and engaging. Much like our readers, getting important information to our newsrooms can be a challenge with the ever-mounting pressures put upon them. We kept thinking: We need one step at a time. How do we create something that takes editors on a journey? That’s where the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books we all read as a kid came in?

2. It emphasizes analytics.

The first page of the game guides you to look at your own numbers with a very basic question: Is your traffic down or up today? You can’t move to the next step without answering that question. We provide reports that are very user friendly to figure that out. The reports also have access to other properties so newsrooms can see how they are doing against other properties their size.

We use a Google site that populates as soon as you put in your Google Analytics information.

3. It’s full of real-world examples.

One of the biggest complaints we hear about training is there are never good examples of those that are doing it well. So in this game, we made sure to include multiple examples from different size newsrooms. The game also links to training documents and has strategy suggestions. Plus it has tools. A lot of real-world tools for newsrooms. One example is a reporter checklist for their stories. Is your headline SEO friendly? Did you add related content? Did you add video or audio? Those are the types of tools that really help drive culture change. The game is built in WordPress, so we can constantly update it with best practices or other cool examples as they come up. We want this to be something newsrooms find value in over and over.

4. It’s fun.

We are so serious in this business. Why can’t we have a little fun? This tool plays on our reporters’ and editors’ nostalgia and hopefully reinforces the point: GateHouse supports its newsrooms.