With much happening overnight, Nine metros the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age found readers needed to catch up on COP26 news and break down the detail.
Deputy digital editor Sophia Phan tells in an INMA Digital Strategies blog how plans were made to best showcase and present news leading up to and from the climate talks.
“The Herald and The Age’s product team built a special index page for the topic so editors could curate the key articles, and a daily COP26 newsletter was launched,” she says.
Among features was a documentary-style video produced for all platforms, showing “how the world got to the state it’s in”.
Templates similar to those used for the Olympics were also mocked up for Instagram. “Climate is often a difficult topic to navigate, especially with younger readers and readers off-platform, so we made sure we had a strategy to best engage with these audiences,” says Phan.
The first iteration of COP26 social media templates.
“We knew we wanted to make our summit coverage visually distinct from our regular news posts, and we ended up taking cues from the visuals for the summit itself and our on-site coverage.
“When creating designs, we were thinking about certain story commissions: explainers, a glossary of key climate terminology, reader Q&As, and a climate quiz.”
A glossary was written with the social rollout in mind, with technical stats and jargon removed, making sure people understood certain climate concepts before the two-week summit began.
A climate quiz served as both an interactive element within climate coverage, as well as summarising key facts ahead of the summit, and special templates were also created for Instagram stories to exhibit this.
Content was created to engage audiences.
Phan says quote card templates “for both short and long sentences”, as well as deep etches of world leaders in attendance were also prepared. “This allowed us to turn around content much quicker.”
A callout box in all climate stories in the lead-up asked readers what they would like to read or have clarified, and helped inform decision-making. “We wanted to write stories that best served our audience,” she says.
A wide selection of graphics were made available and were featured “as much as possible” in each article, with a form of “charticle” compiled to group together all the relevant graphs.
Graphics were a big part of the content strategy.
She also says the concept of “at a glance” content or article summaries came up often in Why Not Pay research. “Readers wanted different formats for articles, especially if the content was long or complicated or both.
“Since the capability already exists within our CMS, we just had to make sure it was front-of-mind for both reporters and editors when producing copy.
Talking points were used to make a dense subject more accessible.
“These talking points also made it easier for us to create the social card equivalent as all copy was readily available,” she says. “They served as a good entry point for readers into both our COP26 coverage and our journalism more broadly.”
Talking points included links to in-depth articles.
Phan says learnings from COP26 “can definitely” be applied to upcoming events and special coverage. “It’s not about making more content but making the content work for our goals.”