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One of the greatest tools in any content creator’s bag of tricks is the callout. Callouts are simple questionnaires or polls, and they’re a great way to connect with your members and discover what really interests them. Typically used by journalists and reporters, callouts have high potential for any organization making efforts to engage and retain new and existing members.

What are callouts?

Bobby Blanchard of the Texas Tribune shared an excellent thread with specific examples on how his organization uses callouts to connect with their audience and inform and strengthen his reporting. In many of the Texas Tribune's COVID-19 and sever weather reporting, callouts were a main source for inspiration and sources. 

In fact, many of the sources cited within many of the Texas Tribune’s articles were found through the company’s callouts. For example, “Texans running out of food as weather crisis disrupts supply chain” and “How to help and get help in Texas as the winter storm causes power outages” were based on callout questions like “What immediate help do you need most?”

Similarly, if an organization asked its members to share their struggles and triumphs, the content produced would be much more engaging, time-sensitive and appropriate for the conversations at hand than simply guessing what members immediate needs are. 

Related: How a middle school lesson can increase member engagement Learn More >

The audience engagement loop

The reason callouts work is because they follow the fundamental loop of audience engagement, according to Blanchard. In practice, this looks like: 

  • You ask your audience for help
  • Your audience answers your questions
  • You use those answers to empower and inform your content
  • You report back out to the community that helped you 
  • You use those responses to ask a new question

While callouts are often used in journalism, the basic idea can be applied anywhere. Many organizations can take advantage of this simple formula to utilize member engagement and feedback to further the value of products, services and content produced. 

The speed and ease at which members can input their two cents is beneficial to both them and their organization. The more your members answer callouts and engage with the content at a foundational level, the more it will apply to them and help out.

Related: 3 technologies associations can use to connect with members and grow their audience Learn More >

In the name of practicing what I preach, here’s my own small callout: What’s the #1 thing you’re struggling with right now? Email me at to let me know. 🙂

Ashley Neal
Post by Ashley Neal
May 28, 2021
Ashley is a marketing and communications professional with expertise in sales conversion, copywriting, and social media.