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.
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.
The reason callouts work is because they follow the fundamental loop of audience engagement, according to Blanchard. In practice, this looks like:
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.
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 [email protected] to let me know. 🙂
Ashley Neal joined the Sidecar team as Community Coordinator in March of 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic began to shut down life as we knew it. Having to adapt, overcome and predict the changes needed to survive in the new normal, Ashley now has the skills needed to juggle any obstacle thrown her way. A soon-to-be graduate from Southeastern Louisiana University in the field of Strategic Communications, Ashley spends her days balancing her work and education with her love of dogs. Taking her three dogs — Scooby, Pipsqueak and Moose — to restaurants, hiking trails, vacations and even participating in dog shows and sports is the highlight of her weekends.
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