A project like this cannot move forward until audience research has been conducted; that’s what the Local Fourth team has been working on the past few weeks. Talking with audience members is important when creating any new media product, but it’s arguably more crucial when dealing with the hyper-local space.
But how do you get in touch with as many Evanston residents as possible in such a short amount of time (and while taking into consideration the diverse group of people that live in our city?)
Here’s what my audience co-leader Jason Shough and I have been heading up the past few weeks.
Step #1 – The entire Local Fourth team hit the streets with a set of questions to see how well they tested with audience members. What questions generated insightful responses? What questions were answered with confused, puzzled looks?
Yes, for a few hours we were those people who approach you on the street begging for help with a graduate student research project. We didn’t like doing it any more than you liked being approached! In the end, however, we had an idea of what to ask and what not to ask, which brought us to…
Step #2 – Test the second round of questions. Similar to the first round of research, but with a more focused approach. People who were particularly helpful were asked for contact information and added to our list of people to follow-up with.
Step #3 – We created an online survey and linked to it with a Facebook advertisement. We designed the questions so they weren’t too personal but still gave us helpful information. The Local Fourth team also used various social media to drive traffic to our survey, and Bill Smith put up the link on Evanston Now’s website.
As of Thursday we had 81 responses. As of Monday afternoon? Close to 125 responses. And they’re still coming in! The online survey has been a significant contributor to our audience research process.
Step #4 — Perhaps the most interesting research component has been our in-depth interviews with Evanston residents. These were done over the phone or in person and took approximately 30-50 minutes (and sometimes longer!) These conversations – about 35 of them – gave us very intimate information about Evanston residents’ concerns and media use. Are they passionate about local news coverage? Are they simply news grazers? Maybe they don’t care one bit about Evanston news – whatever the answer, we wanted to know.
Step #5 – Once we had all of the information, what did we do with it? Analyze, analyze, analyze. We identified patterns and looked for ways we could intervene and make the local news process easier and more beneficial to Evanston residents. This lead us to…
Step #6 – Development of personas: the final step in the process. For more about this last stage of the process, stay tuned for Jason Shough’s post.