Rising Star: Alexandra Smith, Content Strategist for The Coloradoan

“Why won’t you read this great story? What can I do to make sure that it pops up in your Facebook News Feed or newsletter roundup? How can I make sure you will read it?”

These are some of the questions that have always run through Rising Star Alexandra Smith’s head. Now, as a content strategist for The Coloradoan, she tackles them on a daily basis.

Alexandra always loved to read and write, which led her to study journalism at Rutgers University. After a short period of time, she realized she wasn’t interested in reporting. So, she explored her options through multiple internships outside of the industry including record labels, theater, marketing and public relations work.

Despite not wanting to be a reporter, Alexandra still joined the news media industry. Managing content on a website and social media platforms provided her the opportunity to tackle a challenge she loves: engaging people with news content.

She is involved daily in this engagement. She explores metrics for each platform and determines the reasoning behind them.

“I look into what has happened and how people are responding,” Alexandra says.

She revisits content promotion, the reach of the target audience and how to capitalize on successful social media content. Alexandra also keeps a pulse on the industry trends.

She spends other parts of her day working with people on her team. They spend time brainstorming and planning areas from promotions on podcasts to valuable events. She works with reporters for things like story ideas and video edits. Collaboration for newsletter strategy is also a part of her job, as is content presentation across each platform.

“One of my favorite parts of my day is working with leaders on the engagement team,” she says. “I love to help coach and teach. I love that one-on-one time.”

Aside from her team, the current state of the news media industry keeps Alexandra motivated. With evident distrust and fake news labels, she wants to help promote transparency in the industry. She looks for ways to illustrate how The Coloradoan came to a conclusion on each story, the lengths it took to get there and behind-the-scenes moments. The Coloradoan also showed its efforts to restore trust in news media when it joined

At only 27 years old, Alexandra has worked through a few positions prior to becoming Content Strategist at The Coloradoan. After graduating from college, Alexandra remained in her of New Jersey as a digital producer for the Asbury Park Press. Here, she worked with quick response projects such as breaking news and social media updates. After a promotion, she added reviewing engagement statistics to her list of tasks.

“On average, a reader spends less than 30 seconds on a piece,” said Alexandra. “This was really disheartening to me.”

This is when she decided she wanted to work in audience engagement. She wanted to help produce content that the audience could relate to and make people want to read the full story. From here, she started at Gannett training other newsrooms on community engagement.

“I was able to get a feel for how journalism worked in different places and how to improve on connecting with audiences,” Alexandra said.

Initially hired as an outreach editor, Alexandra moved through a few internal positions before she became a content strategist for The Coloradoan in 2015. Here she leads the engagement team on production, social media, events, newsletters and podcasting.

From her role in the news media industry, Alexandra believes that there will be a shift in the way consumers will be engaged.

“I think it will be more important than ever to make sure people are delivering the news towards where people spend the most time,” she says.

She sees platforms such as Instagram Stories and Facebook Live as being a part of the new alternative revenue streams.

“For traditional business and advertising models, off-platform work can be scary,” Alexandra says. “But, there will be different ways of monetizing than there are now and a shift in how we are paid for what we do.”

Alexandra finds her young age to be an advantage in the news media industry. Specifically, in her realm of work her age helps her with audience engagement perspective.

“Some people tend to equate the tactics we try to use with millennials,” she says.

Alexandra acknowledges challenges as a younger-aged person in the industry, but she works to establish her credibility and show what she has to offer.

“Take the time to explain what it is you do, or the way you think, that is uniquely different from what the organization is already doing,” Alexandra advises.

“Uniqueness is a really good quality to have.”


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