Distribution & promotion
Exeter Observer’s publishing and promotional activities are aimed at new and existing audiences, contributors, supporters, members and investors as well as civil society actors and communities of interest across the city. A key aim is the development of relationships with all these stakeholders in order to inform, refine and transform the way Exeter Observer fulfils its mission.
Exeter Observer’s website is its primary publishing platform. Its design is intended to communicate the masthead’s editorial standards and value propositions while avoiding the clutter, interstitials and noise which crowd out content on other local channels.
It was designed and developed by core team members and uses locally-executed code to enable access to a global content delivery network which integrates page caching, certificates and analytics. Compared with server-based publishing this approach is low-overhead, secure and resilient, providing fast page load times and enabling high search engine rankings.
Its design is continuously evolving as new content formats are explored and incorporated in its information architecture. Recent analysis of presentation patterns used by successful peer publications have prompted updates including masthead refinement and revised calls to action with increased use of high-impact colour, more legible typography and better use of images on handheld devices.
Twitter is Exeter Observer’s principal social media channel. It has been key to audience development, enabling leverage of positive network effects while demonstrating engagement and impact in a pseudo-public sphere. It has facilitated productive connections with community organisations, civil society stakeholders and other local networks, however recent changes following the company’s sale have prompted a review of its use.
We also post to Exeter Reddit and a recently-created Mastodon channel. We do not use any Meta services including Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Messenger because its adverse impact on democracy and the public interest is incompatible with Exeter Observer’s values.
Email newsletters help reach readers who are not regular social network users. Exeter Observer began publishing The Exeter Digest in April 2021. It initially included short-form content in addition to links to stories published on the website, then a twelve month review prompted a format change so all content is now published on the website and promoted in the newsletter.
This change significantly reduced newsletter production overheads, enabling more frequent publication and bespoke composition to showcase high value stories and promote calls to action to subscribers.
Printed promotional materials also help reach audiences and stakeholders who are not regular social media users. Two formats have been explored: an A5 promotional flyer and an A4 page gatefold presented as a four-page A5 booklet containing recent story summaries.
Either can be distributed door to door or left in bundles at selected pick-up points. The former has a longer shelf life while the latter can be delivered door to door in areas in which highlighted stories are relevant, while having higher production overheads.
Resources are accordingly now focussed on distributing an updated A5 promotional flyer via a regular restock route that covers 30 selected locations which have been reduced from a longlist of 100 in trial drop-offs.
More about Exeter Observer
- Independent, investigative, in the public interest
- Journalism with community benefit at its heart
- The story so far
- Distribution & promotion
- Democracy doesn't work when people don't know
- Legacy local news
- Exeter media in perspective
- Local news that matters
Exeter Observer is published by Exeter Observer Limited, Community Benefit Society No. 8435 registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014.
Our registered address is St Sidwell’s Community Centre, Sidwell Street, Exeter EX4 6NN.