Mastering Live Blogs: Strategies That Drive Positive Results


  • With the right features and applications, live blogs can help publishers enhance their content strategies. 
  • ClickOnDetroit created a Vaccine Hunter live blog that generated a significant amount of engagement: 50,000 views, over four million impressions and positive user feedback.
  • The Baltimore Sun’s live sports blog pulled Tweets in from several staff members to attract digital visitors to its site. 
  • The National Post provided a safe, trusted place to share important election information through various post formats.
  • The Morning Call’s COVID-19 blog featured short updates, which pointed to longer in-depth articles.
  • The Online News Association hosted a live blog to share key event takeaways for attendees. 

Viafoura’s live blog tools trigger increased content consumption, audience satisfaction and brand loyalty.

What kind of content experience will keep consumers informed and engaged online? That’s the million-dollar question that practically every publisher struggles with. 

Luckily, media companies have begun to notice that the live blog format can be a dependable way to share critical content and maximize the time audiences spend on publisher properties.

[2020] reminded publishers how valuable live news, updates and analysis can be to readers,” writes Digiday Senior Editor Max Willens. “The relentless bombardment of big stories gave publishers a fresh chance every month to break down what was going on for readers in areas ranging from public health to politics to sports to business.”

There’s no doubt that live blogs are loaded with perks. You just need to figure out what kind of live blog works best for your organization — and how your editorial team can implement it successfully. 

Get some inspiration to enhance your company’s content strategy by checking out some effective live blogs below.

ClickOnDetroit’s Vaccine Hunter Live Blog

When Ken Haddad, a digital content manager for a ClickOnDetroit, realized that thousands of people couldn’t find vaccine appointments, he launched a live blog to help. 

Haddad’s Vaccine Hunter-style live blog acted as a single place people could turn to in Michigan for critical vaccine updates and appointment openings. 

In addition, essential information was pinned to the top of the live blog to ensure that it stood out to page visitors. 

Haddad’s posts also engaged visitors by allowing audience members to upvote, downvote and share updates across platforms to their networks of friends and family.   

Since the project’s inception, ClickOnDetroit’s live blog has earned an incredible amount of attention, including over 150,000 views, four million impressions to Haddad’s Twitter account and positive visitor feedback.

The Baltimore Sun’s Live Sports Blog

Many journalists already Tweet regularly to keep their followers updated as newsworthy events and sports games unfold. So why not move that content away from the misinformation and social media trolls and ingest it right onto your company’s digital properties?

That’s precisely what The Baltimore Sun did. 

To give audience members real-time commentary and updates on a major football game in early 2021, The Baltimore Sun pulled in Tweets from several staffers into its live blog

As a result, the media company was able to attract and engage sports fans right on its website in return for ongoing, accurate recaps and content on the game.

National Post’s Election Live Blog

No national election is complete without an overwhelming amount of information and aggressive opinions on social media. And since 80% of people will turn away from news coverage near toxic content, posting live election updates on social media is counterproductive for any media company hoping to build a reputation as a trusted resource. 

For these reasons, the National Post ran a live blog to provide audiences with a reliable, safe space to follow the 2019 Canadian election.

The National Post also used Viafoura’s live blogging tool during the election, which gave them the ability to cover the event thoroughly using a combination of updates, social media posts and images.

The Morning Call’s COVID-19 Live Blog

In the spring of 2020, The Morning Call launched a live blog to help Pennsylvanians monitor COVID-19 and related restrictions in their region.

The media company cleverly used the live blog as a way to push readers to longer content pieces. This meant that writers didn’t need to continuously recap old information in new content since all background information could be accessed on the live blog. Plus, they could keep their updates concise, highlighting only vital information. 

The short updates, which can touch on a story from several different perspectives or angles, gives readers a good snapshot of a publisher’s breadth of coverage,” Willens explains.

ONA’s Live Event Blog

With many businesses hosting events to grow revenue or audiences, there’s a tremendous opportunity to engage people before, during and after these events online. And some organizations are now seeing the live blog as an appealing tool to build audience interest around their events.

The Online News Association (ONA), for instance, decided to leverage Viafoura’s live blog to engage attendees during ONA NYC, an event for media professionals. 

ONA published noteworthy takeaways from ONA NYC, offering attendees one place to return to for essential highlights and information. 

With the support of live blogs, publishers can satisfy audiences, boost content consumption, and encourage visitors to spend more time viewing and relying on their coverage. 

If you’re interested in learning about Viafoura’s live blogging tool, you can access a complete list of its features here.

Five Media Industry Experts Weigh in on the Great Paywall Dilemma of 2020

At the moment, many publishers find themselves at a crossroads. They’re unsure if they should monetize high-performing pandemic content or offer it for free to support consumers (especially in light of reduced advertising and event-based revenue). 

But the right path isn’t clear-cut. 

Bloomberg Media put coronavirus content outside of its paywall, and still grew subscriptions by 86% between February and March of 2020. Meanwhile, other publishers who have loosened their paywalls report major losses, with some even moving to put it back up.

It ultimately becomes an ethical question: Should publishers be prioritizing the well-being of their own companies or of their consumers?

To help your company work through a successful and ethical paywall strategy, we’ve rounded up some words of wisdom from media experts across the industry. Here’s how they’re approaching this dilemma, and what they’re observing throughout the media landscape: 


Managing Editor at Upsala Nya Tidning, Jens Pettersson

In Sweden, newspaper Upsala Nya Tidning continues to maintain a tight paywall throughout the pandemic, which Pettersson says is “a clear signal of the value of journalism.”

The publication will typically only lift its paywall for information on an inevitable and immediate life-threatening crisis.

“Our responsibility is to our paying customers,” Pettersson adds. “They are the ones making sure our journalists get their monthly paycheck.”

But not all media experts agree.

Executive Editor at The Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance

According to LaFrance, The Atlantic has adjusted its paywall strategy so that critical information related to the pandemic is available to all consumers.

“We’ve prioritized free access to the stories that can help people make decisions that keep them safe, physically and mentally, as well the stories holding officials accountable for failures related to the virus,” LaFrance tells NiemanLab.

In other words, there’s value in offering essential information to the public for free. However, the company is still monetizing its audience. Every piece of content on its platform includes a subscription prompt to help the company drive revenue.


Medill Local News Initiative Lead, Tim Franklin

“At the end of the day, we’re seeing many local news organizations prioritize keeping much of their coronavirus coverage in front of the paywall,” Franklin states. “That’s certainly a fulfillment of their mission to serve their readers.”

A handful of local news publishers are even seeing a rise in digital subscriptions without pandemic-related content behind their paywalls.

Since this solution provides audiences with essential information in a noble way, Franklin suggests that consumers will recognize this and feel encouraged to offer financial relief to publishers by subscribing.


Knight Innovator-in-Residence at Florida University’s Journalism Faculty, Howard Saltz

After holding high-level roles at various media companies, Saltz has learned that newsrooms have a duty to charge a subscription fee for content — including anything related to the pandemic. 

We have obligations to the communities we cover,” Saltz explains. “But we can’t fulfill those obligations if we don’t exist.”

In Saltz’s opinion, businesses that offer a public service should still charge for their services to stay in business.


Executive Editor at The Post and Courier, Mitch Pugh

In March, a local news publisher in California known as The Post and Courier lifted its paywall for all pandemic-related content. 

“We put a message at the top of those stories letting people know that we were doing it for free, as a public service, and we encouraged them to subscribe,” states Pugh.

Pugh notes that companies can still benefit from new, active users reading free content by requiring users to register on their platforms: 

“On April 8th, we put a registration wall on all of our COVID content, so it’s still free, anybody can read it for free, but they have to give us an email address. And in two weeks we signed up 30,000 registered users.”

Companies can further engage registrants, encouraging them to convert.

With so many conflicting opinions on what a proper paywall strategy should look like during the pandemic, it may seem impossible to decipher the best course of action. 

But media experts seem to have one thing in common. They all understand that, whether a paywall is maintained or loosened, publishers must be able to monetize their audience in some way or form.

This doesn’t mean that you need to choose between prioritizing the needs of your audience over the needs of your company — because one simply can’t survive without the other.

New Data Showcases the Public’s Appetite for Online Engagement

At this time, media companies are facing some of the most pressing challenges they’ve encountered so far: shrinking advertising dollars, a strain on resources, endless misinformation and a shift to remote work. Brands are slowly realizing that the only way to survive in this climate and keep individuals informed with trusted information is to build highly engaged communities of consumers.

So here’s the big question: How much does the public genuinely want to engage with media brands… especially during a pandemic? 

Viafoura’s data experts combed through millions of engagement data points based on the performance of our solutions across client platforms. And the results were jaw-dropping: the desire for audience engagement solutions online has never been as prominent as it is now. 

We’ve summarized the main takeaways from our report below to help you make sense of your consumers and how you can build a loyal community. 


Consumers’ Interest to Engage Online Has Grown by 53%

According to our data, the number of unique users interacting with engagement tools grew by 53% in March compared to February. This means that being able to interact on digital media properties is becoming more important to consumers during the pandemic. 

After surveying over 2,500 people, Unruly, a video advertising platform, confirmed that individuals are in fact craving more engagement through content, brands and ads. 

“The pandemic has resulted in rapid, unprecedented changes in consumer behaviors and their preferences,” explains Unruly’s VP of Insight Terence Scroope.

Scroope goes on to state that brands must now refocus their priorities “to maintain and grow connections with consumers, provide support and minimize disruption to performance.”

By satisfying the need for entertainment and social interaction, media companies have the power to support the public and build loyal communities through engagement tools.


Conversation Readers Have Increased by 50%

Some media organizations may find the endless selection of audience engagement solutions overwhelming. But with a growing number of people seeking out and reading conversations on media sites and apps, the value of conversation-based engagement tools is rising. 

This growing interest in online conversations shouldn’t come as a surprise though. As physical distancing standards leave people socially disconnected, major global organizations like the CDC are encouraging individuals to forge meaningful connections with one another in other ways.

Consumers are now turning to media organizations with conversation-based engagement tools (such as moderated commenting, live blog or chat tools) to feed their desire for human connection. And since comment readers represent the most active and valuable portion of your digital community, everybody wins. 


Building Interest Around Your Content

Engagement tools — such as content recommendation and conversation widgets — increased our clients’ page views by 24% between January 2020 and the end of March.

In other words, engagement tools can help to amplify interest in content. This is because offering consumers the opportunity to interact with brands encourages them to spend more time engaging with content.

“As the dust settles at the end of this period, people will remember how [organizations] have responded and that is the challenge,” writes Steve Impey, a SportsPro journalist. “How do you drive value in your community in this particular situation?” 

Media companies without engagement tools may miss the opportunity to enhance their content and add value to the overall consumer experience. 


How Engagement Tools are Being Leveraged During the Pandemic

To activate their communities, news and lifestyle publishers alike are working to improve the consumer experience through engagement tools.

While some publishers are running online chats and conversations alongside live-streamed shows or old sports games, others are relying on instant blogging tools for the majority of their COVID-19 news coverage

Media companies are also using discussion-based audience engagement solutions to run online webinars and events. The Financial Times, for instance, hosted an interactive webinar with thousands of people who took part in live polls and Q&As.

At the end of the day, engagement tools are being used as a way to bring people together even though they’re physically apart. 

Publishers are no longer just content distributors; they’re facilitators of social connections in an incredibly isolating and challenging crisis. By providing audience members with engagement tools online, media companies can make social isolation a little more tolerable for both consumers and brands.

Media Buyers are Blacklisting Coronavirus Content, and It’s Damaging the News Industry

Calling all fellow marketers: blacklisting coronavirus content for your advertisements is harmful to your business, your communities and the entire news industry. 

“News organizations are working tirelessly to provide reliable and trustworthy information to their communities; a life-saving service at this unprecedented time,” states David Chavern, CEO of News Media Alliance. “Keyword blocking serves to punish publishers for this very same coverage, with potentially catastrophic effects.”

One of these catastrophic effects is already taking form. The Interactive Advertising Bureau reported a recent drop in online ad revenue for publishers by a whopping 33 percent.

If we stand by and continue to block keywords, industry experts are concerned that the future of news will be a grim one and unfortunately, your organization and community won’t walk out unscathed. 


The Effect on News Organizations

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen that media organizations are suffering as advertising dollars grind to a halt. There have been hundreds of staff layoffs, significant salary cuts and hiring freezes across the entire news industry.

The reality is that, without the help of advertisers, publishers invest in coronavirus news at their own expense to keep their communities informed. 

But this type of business model isn’t sustainable, and will cause the quality and efficiency of journalism to suffer in the long run. 

“In the absence of your ad dollars, news organizations are losing journalistic resources,” says Dan Seaman, VP of product at Viafoura. “These organizations can’t step up and meet the demand for information if they’re unsupported.”


Protecting Consumers

In countries where governments can’t be trusted for reliable information, the survival of news companies is directly connected to the public’s well-being.

The Toronto Star’s CEO, John Boynton, turned to LinkedIn to send this message to advertisers earlier this month: 

“I also ask that you have staff speak to your ad tech supplier and have them stop “blacklisting” sites covering this COVID-19 crisis. It is very ironic/harmful that at a time when we need real journalism for safety purpose and we need to avoid sites that still carry fake news, that the advertising tech companies actually block sites that carry the facts.”

Information can save lives. And as the speed in which newsrooms provide fact-checked, critical information declines, marketers must act now if they hope to protect their communities. 

“It’s the support of businesses like yours that helps us continue to provide clear, accurate and trusted information to millions of readers through responsible journalism,” Boynton adds. 


The State of Advertiser Businesses

Based on data from previous recessions, Brand Consultant Mark Ritson describes on Marketing Week how companies that increased their advertising budgets during challenging economic times thrived both during and after a recession. In contrast, those who reduced ad spend during these times underperformed for up to three years following a recession.

Ritson also explains that marketers who keep injecting their ad budgets into campaigns right now will reap the rewards as competitors reduce or stop advertising altogether.

“Rather than pulling your budget and putting reputable brands out of business, you have an opportunity to get your brand in front of people and show solidarity and support to those who are living through this crisis,” Seaman stresses.

Plus, if you fail to support trusted news partners now, there may not be many left to run ads with in the future. 


The Solution

There’s a massive captive audience right now on news platforms. Marketers can use this to their advantage by adjusting their existing campaigns so they make sense in the context of coronavirus news. 

Ritson even suggests that one of the “strongest plays in advertising” is to actually increase your ad spend in this type of climate to help build your brand up. 

“If you are a brand with access to an advertising budget, you have a moral obligation to spend that budget on reputable news sources covering the coronavirus topic,” states Seaman. And the industry should be aware of which companies are punishing news organizations through their ad dollars.”

At the end of the day, we as marketers are largely accountable for the health of the news industry. So make a simple change to your business strategy that will keep newsrooms running and save the lives of countless people.

Here’s How Sports Broadcasters Can Keep Fans Engaged Amid the Pandemic

Protective measures against COVID-19 are currently in full force around the world, causing all types of events and public areas to shut down. Among the businesses affected by closures, sports media companies now find themselves in an unfamiliar space trying to earn revenue and engage audiences without in-person competitions to fuel fan excitement. 

Although many sports broadcasters are now relying on reruns and archived video to fill the gap, their ability to excite sports fans seems somewhat limited. But many companies are beginning to learn that there’s more to sports than in-person events.

We spend half our time watching sports, we then move onto digesting them, discussing them with friends and then preparing for the next game,” sportswriter Mike Wood states in a Forbes article

In other words, conversation and human interaction have the power to delight audiences. So in the absence of in-person competitions, here are a few simple ways for sports broadcasters to engage audiences, boost morale and build long-term loyalty virtually. 


Watch Parties

By now, you might have heard of the Netflix Party tool, which allows friends to chat together and watch content on the platform in unison. Not only does this tool allow consumers to socialize safely, but it also boosts their excitement towards the platform. 

Sports broadcasters can use Netflix’s audience engagement solution as inspiration to get their own sports fans chatting over videos. And with so much careful planning being put into which old games and events should run in place of canceled ones, fans will certainly be tuning in.

Just look at ESPN, which is airing old WrestleMania events. 

According to Burke Magnus, ESPN’s executive VP of programming, “WrestleMania is one of the most popular global events in sports and entertainment and the spectacular content it provides will be a treat for fans.”

If fans had a live chat to discuss programs like WrestleMania as they air, viewers would be able to do more than just watch: they would work each other up for matches and reignite the spirit of sports culture. 


Q&As and AMAs

Another reliable way to engage fans is by hosting live Q&As and AMAs that feature sports leaders and athletes.

For instance, a U.K. sports club known as Barrow AFC is currently keeping fans connected to team members through Q&As.

Since Q&As and AMAs can be conducted remotely and in real time, they’re effective ways for sports broadcasters to maintain healthy connections with consumers. Just imagine how excited sports fans would be to engage directly with famous players like LeBron James, Serena Williams or Lionel Messi.


Esports Games

While esports isn’t anything new for gamers, there’s been a surge in players due to the worldwide lockdowns caused by COVID19. With such a large consumer base already existing in the esport world, it’s the perfect place for athletes to compete and attract fans. 

Some sports companies have already started their journey into esports. 

In fact, Spanish soccer league La Liga ran a virtual FIFA tournament with nineteen professional soccer players on March 22 of this year, bringing in over one million viewers. 

NASCAR drivers also turned to a connected gaming platform to race virtually last week and engage audiences, and plan to do so every week until the pandemic ends. 

Will Hershey, the CEO of an esport investment company, explains that he “[expects] traditional athletes, many of whom are gamers, to look to [esport] streaming as a way to engage with fans and build their personal brand while leagues remain suspended.” 


Adjusting Podcasts

Many networks already rely on podcasts to connect with their audiences. However, sports broadcasters hoping to keep listeners interested must adjust their strategies in light of recent sports cancellations.

“Ninety-five percent [of sports content] now is about being creative and testing the waters of what the audience wants right now, taking liberties with your creativity,” states the host of TalkSPORT’s show Going Global.

Instead of focusing on sports closures and postponements, some media companies are getting creative by discussing the past sports world, athlete interviews and upcoming virtual events. 

As long as sports broadcasters find new ways to engage consumers remotely, fans will continue to rely on them for information and entertainment.

Five Breaking News Tactics to Help You With Your Coronavirus Coverage

The quick spread of the coronavirus is triggering panic all around the world. But by battling related misinformation and keeping the public informed, digital media is currently the one thing that can help ease this widespread fear.

Although most news media companies are covering the COVID-19 outbreak in some way or form, not all companies are positioning themselves as trustworthy sources for consumers.

In fact, the World Health Organization recently labeled the coronavirus as an ‘infodemic,’ which it defines as “an overabundance of information some accurate and some not that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.”

To help you become a trusted resource during this crisis, we’ve laid out some of the most effective ways to relay breaking news on the virus to the public. 


Test out Live Blogging

Through live blogs, media companies can offer consumers a single place to gather accurate information on COVID-19.

Take the National Post, for example, which ran a live blog when the coronavirus first began taking root in North America. Minute-to-minute updates related to the virus were posted on one page so individuals could access the latest details effortlessly.

Implementing live blogs for your breaking news is a powerful way to build trust with your audience, and stop them from going elsewhere for information. This can help prevent consumers from believing misinformation on social media or through news aggregators.


Benefit From Push Notifications

With government policies seeming to be more fragile now than ever before, people want to know what’s happening around the world as new information comes out. 

Push notifications allow media companies to ease this hunger for instant updates. Plus, they can eliminate your dependency on third-party platforms to deliver your content to readers.

And with push notifications generating click-through rates of up to nearly 28%, consumers can rest easy knowing they’re getting the latest and most reliable updates as they’re available.


Expand News Coverage on Streaming Platforms

The pandemic is changing the world as we know it, including the way people want to consume news. 

According to Christy Tanner, EVP and general manager of digital news at CBS, “what we have seen people want is the most up to date information about whether the virus is impacting their community and what they can do to protect themselves and prevent transmission.” 

To meet this demand for more information, news organizations like CBS and ABC have been using their video-streaming platforms to offer additional in-depth coverage, both live and on demand.

“Not only is there a regular outpouring of information, but people have struggled to ascertain what information is accurate,” writes Senior Reporter Tim Peterson at Digiday. “And that is why news media companies’ streaming services have become vital outlets.”


Host Ask Me Anythings

With so much uncertainty spreading like wildfire across the globe, hosting Ask Me Anythings (AMAs) can be an effective way to deliver trustworthy information to consumers. 

Consider inviting health professionals and political representatives to address audience concerns in real time on your owned and operated properties. This can engage consumers, provide accurate answers to their concerns, and solidify your reputation as a reliable news media company. 

Even ABC News recently hosted a live stream where audience members could ask their questions to the company’s health correspondent.


Involve Your Audience

One of the easiest ways to prioritize the needs and interests of your audience is by involving them directly in the content you produce. 

At ProPublica, a non-profit news company that relies on crowdsourced information to fuel their journalism, “the investigative newsroom has been using… online callouts and surveys to solicit tips, find sources, and identify affected communities since it launched in 2008.”

It’s worth following suit by creating content based on health tips and personal stories submitted by the public. As you engage consumers through questionnaires and idea callouts which can be used to produce content that other audience members may find relatable and interesting — you can build up their loyalty towards your brand. 

During this crisis, look beyond your normal breaking news strategies to connect with audience members and provide them with relief. What could be more satisfying to your business than that?

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