Audience engagement and membership workshop in Cape Town

Grzegorz Kurek
Aug 31, 2019 · 3 min read
Just Cape Town

On 21–22.08.2019 Anna and Grzegorz from Outriders took part in a workshop organised by the Membership Puzzle Project and the Daily Maverick. About 70 participants from around the world were trained in audience engagement and membership. We discussed the ways to engage our readers more and were taught how to write newsletters and use technology and staff to run an audience revenue program. We met and had fruitful conversations with Ariel Zirulnick, a Fund Director in MPP, John Stupart, the creator of Daily Maverick First Thing, and Styli Charalambous, CEO and publisher of Daily Maverick. And it all happened in the beautiful settings of South African Cape Town, Atlantic Ocean and impressive mountains.

The workshop started with the introduction of the participants. Outriders were represented by Anna Górnicka and Grzegorz Kurek, who team up in preparing Outriders’ Brief — a weekly Newsletter Magazine. There were journalists and media workers mostly from South Africa and other African countries, but also representatives of media outlets and organisations from Argentina, India, France and, obviously, Poland.

Here are some bullet points from the presentations during the workshop:

  • Ariel Zirulnick gave an overview of the global state of membership in news, and what the Membership Puzzle Project learned from studying members of news organizations worldwide. Styli Charalambous dove in on Maverick Insiders, Daily Maverick’s year-old membership program.
  • The representatives of three news organizations described, inspired and provoked new ways of thinking about audience participation by presenting their projects.
  • Ariel Zirulnick helped to break down editorial projects to find entry points needed to bring audience members into the work.
  • The creators of Daily Maverick’s First Thing, Maverick Insiders, and Maverick Life newsletters walked the workshop’s participants through how newsletters get designed and produced and how they tie into a broader editorial strategy as e-mail newsletters are an excellent way to build a relationship with the audience and reduce the exposure to the whims of social media algorithms.
  • Daily Maverick’s membership team talked about the skills and tools needed to run an audience revenue program, with a particular focus on how they navigated hurdles in South Africa’s media and payments ecosystem.

We were writing a mission/values statement to show our audience what drives us, which is the key to gaining or regaining their trust — and that is key to building an audience revenue strategy. W also took part in a crash course in audience research and design thinking for journalism as well as three breakout sessions moderated by the Daily Maverick journalists. We also had an open discussion on the challenges that getting internal (team) and external (audience) buy-in presents, some strategies for dealing with them, and how to make your pitch to your community.

And we attended the Maverick Insiders anniversary celebration at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa — a lovely evening in a beautiful setting with the Daily Maverick crew.

The last sunset in Cape Town

To sum it up, the long trip to Cape Town, South Africa (five flights altogether, including two 12 hours flights from and to Frankfurt) was definitely worth taking and so fruitful. Not to mention unique views of the Atlantic Ocean, the coastline and the mountains nearby, great restaurants and vibrating life of that city, called by locals “the best place on Earth to live”. Well, I can’t say it ain't’ true:).


Original reporting.

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