These days, you won’t find many newsrooms that don’t use data tools. What happens when you want to switch to another tool? It’s not always simple, and there are often objections or complicating factors.

We had devised a step-by-step plan to help decision-makers in newsrooms make the transition as smooth as possible, but we understand that it’s not a matter of 1-2-3 and you’re where you want to be.

Maybe you recognise your own reservations in the five common issues we hear about often. Usefully there are work-arounds.

The current tool does not meet expectations, but there’s still a contract to honour

It often happens that you are still bound by a contract. In such cases, the question is whether switching is a cheaper solution than waiting out the contract. Ask yourself if the tool you are still committed to is being utilised enough. If not, there are two options:

  • Invest in training and convincing colleagues to use it
  • Or make a strong case for switching to a tool that the newsroom seemingly needs more and fits better with the editorial workflow - and take the hit of paying for two tools until the contract expires.

Aleksandra Radivojevic, Coordinator of Support and Success at smartocto, frequently sees that a tool doesn’t fit the newsroom’s workflow. "A client of ours left a while ago because they found a cheaper tool elsewhere. They switched, but after six months, they returned to us. The data software they now had was hardly used. It didn’t fit the newsroom’s habits. In such cases, waiting out a contract is a waste."

The fear that the tool won’t be used enough

Suppose you’ve moved heaven and earth to get smartocto as your new data tool, and then it’s not used at all? A lot of effort will have been for nothing, and you’ll still be paying a hefty fee.

At smartocto, we aim to alleviate this concern by investing heavily in our onboarding process. That’s why we often work with POCs, or proof of concepts. This is a short test period in which you can check if the software resonates within the organisation. If it doesn’t, you can still opt out of a longer contract.

When you have your first onboarding call make sure you consider the following:

  1. Are all conditions present to make the adoption of this new tool successful?
  2. What are your growth-related goals?
  3. What’s the business goal?
  4. Are your managers on board and motivated?

The onboarding process with smartocto has gone smoothly for me. Once all the tracking integrations from DPG Media were properly configured, we were able to roll out the live dashboards effectively to our editors. We can communicate quickly with your team, and within DPG Media, we also have efficient data communication channels.

Twan Bovée editor-in-chief @, DPG Media

A newsroom is different from a tech or software company. These cultures might clash.

This can be true, so our advice is to get to know the people behind a tool well. A tool can look fancy, with numerous capabilities that seem fantastic at first glance, but ultimately the question must be answered: is it user-friendly and does it fit the way we want to work?

Smartocto’s founders are professionals from the media world, not the tech world. The author of this piece also worked in journalism for 12 years before settling here - as did several of our Sales and Success managers.

"In a kickoff call, we always try to first understand what type of journalistic organisation we are dealing with," says Aleksandra Radivojevic. "What is the newsroom’s rhythm? How do the key figures on the newsroom take in data dashboards? Do they have a daily standup where results are discussed, or is there only a weekly report circulated? The answers determine how we jointly set up the tool and thereby also determine the success of the collaboration."

Also read this client case: changing data analytical tools is hard, but doable

There is currently not enough budget for the tool we want

This is a common concern. Sometimes it’s just because there is tough negotiation, but sometimes it’s true because higher-ups impose budget cuts.

In today’s digital world, data tools are not a nice-to-have but a need-to-have. Your competitors are certainly keeping an eye on what the audience is waiting for and adjust their content strategy accordingly. If a newsroom does not know how to respond to data, it can harm the reach and appreciation of the work.

The more important question is therefore: without data-informed insights, what kind of loss will be expected?

We’ve seen conversion rates, engagement numbers, and attention time grow for newsrooms that have adopted our approach and started using smartocto’s capabilities. Based on our data, we know that reach could grow by up to 16% and subscriptions even by up to 39%. You’ll find more about it in the PDF below.

There is already so much changing in the newsroom. There’s a concern that employees can’t handle more change.

This concern could be partially alleviated by ensuring that any reports or dashboards are presented in a way that the newsroom is familiar with, suggests Aleksandra Radivojevic. "When people get something they’re used to, the resistance will be lesser. There’s a period to adapt."

Additionally, she points out that smartocto is not a tool that is thrown over the fence and left to land. "We conduct training for key users and then hold Q&A sessions. Bear in mind that not every tool can offer this because some tools are used by many clients - also outside journalism."

Notifications are also set up collaboratively. Clients can adjust dashboards and suggest ideas for notifications themselves. If it’s still too risky to have everyone in the organisation use the tool, sometimes it’s suitable to appoint a group of people who enjoy working with data. This can already add tremendous value. Once the initial ambassadors are convinced, the rest will follow naturally.