To tell a multifaceted story, it makes sense to use multiple platforms. But the more different media and platforms you use, the harder it can be to measure what effect your story had on your intended audience.
Jessica Clark, media strategist with the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR), has learned to measure story impact through her work on interactive projects like Localore, which blends on-air, screen and street media stories.
Clark offered advice for measuring impact at StoriesLab, a recent event in Washington dedicated to innovative storytelling organized by Pride Collaborative and the Center for Social Media. IJNet attended and had these takeaways:
- Find the “beating heart of your project.” What makes people excited about your topic and what inspires people to interact? Ask yourself, “So what?” or “Why does this story matter?”
- Think about impact and set specific goals from the beginning. Think strategically and in concrete terms about your design. What platforms will you use to carry this out, and who is your audience? “How are you going to engage your audiences early and often?” Clark asked. You can reflect on these goals during the evaluation phase at the end of your project.
- Impact isn’t always measured in numbers. The type of impact you seek will differ depending on the project. While you may need to draw a certain number of website visitors with certain stories, other projects may have audience engagement as their primary goal. Clark suggests keeping “what constitutes success and how you’re going to tell that story over time” at the forefront.
- Prototype your project. Prototyping means creating a rough draft of what your project will look like, before you get started. It often only takes a pen and paper. “If you’re not prototyping, you’re not learning,” Clark said. Once you create the project and start evaluating its effectiveness, don’t hesitate to make changes to your original concept based on what works — and what doesn’t.
IJNet Editorial Assistant Margaret Looney writes about the latest media trends, reporting tools and journalism resources.
Image: Feedback capture grid from D.School Bootcamp Bootleg, featured in Clark's report "Designing for Impact."