Internal comms ‘crucial to successful launch of online paywall’

Internal comms 'crucial to successful launch of online paywall'

March 28, 2014

Bosses behind the launch a Norwegian newspaper’s online paywall believes internal comms were the key factor to the project’s success.

The paper – Fædrelandsvennen – launched its digital subscription service in 2012, placing more than half of its content behind a paywall.

News editor Christian Stavik told the Digital Innovators’ Summit in Berlin this week that clear internal comms were a central factor in getting staff on board with the change.

He said: “Internal communication was key in our transformation,” adding the paper hired communications experts to come into the business and help foster a “feeling of togetherness”.

This approach helped colleagues overcome initial hesitancy about moving content behind a paywall, reports Journalism.co.uk.

Indeed, Mr Stavik stressed that project leaders never claimed to have “all the answers” but instead were “open and said we’re looking for the answers”.

The move was a huge change in culture. The ‘one package, and one price’ approach sees readers charged for content, regardless of the platform they use.

Mr Stavik added: “You can call us and say you don’t want print, that’s fine.

“The price stays the same. You pay for content, not platform.”

Fædrelandsvennen saw a drop of 17 per cent in reach when the paywall was first introduced but has now seen traffic levels return to “pre-launch numbers”.

Interestingly, senior leadership have been visible in the newsroom, showing their support for the project particularly on social media.

Mr Stavik said the 24/7 presence of the senior leadership team was essential: “[It was] important that editors and CEOs did get their hands filthy. Saturdays, Sundays, day and night.”

Additionally, the paper stopped ALL staff print subscriptions.

This decision was made to ensure colleagues fully understood the digital product and helped them understand the needs of a digital customer.