4 ways the Trinity Mirror brands are increasing audience engagement

From data layering to introducing new metrics, take a look at how Trinity Mirror regional papers are growing their engagement.

Alison Gow, editor-in-chief (digital) at Trinity Mirror spoke about how the 240 regional newspapers have adapted their strategy to grow a more engaged audience with less resources, at the International Newsroom Summit in London.1

Let’s take a look at how Gow is helping newsrooms find focus and optimize newsroom resources...


1. Redefining ‘the audience’

Back in 2008, Trinity Mirror regionals predominantly focused on pageviews. However, this strategy failed to provide a bigger picture as to what content was working.


The audience are not a flock they are individuals. The more that we can hold people’s attention and really understand what they are looking for, the easier it is to target the content

This attention has now shifted and the teams use a greater variety of metrics including:

  • Local audience reach
  • Social sharing & engagement
  • Active reading time
  • Focus on evergreen content

2. Mindful listening

Trinity Mirror Regionals use a variety of tools to tap into local conversations, including Google Trends, CrowdTangle and Tweetdeck.

A smaller audience often means a want for niche questions to be answered. This was the case during Storm Ophelia, which hit Britain in October 2017.

In Newcastle, the journalists at The Chronicle Live originally covered the storm with the headline: “Why is the sky a weird colour”. However the article failed to gain traffic until the journalist discovered on Google Trends and social media that their audience were actually asking, “why is the sky red?”.

Speaking of this case study, Gow said: 

The data can tell you so much more than you think. Let the data inform your journalism. Don’t let it lead your journalism but it definitely can inform

3. Data layering

Data is helping regional journalists tap into new content that meets their audience needs.

For instance, the Birmingham Mail, in the past, would focus a large amount of their coverage on the M6 motorway. However demographic data uncovered that a significant amount of the paper’s audience actually used public transport. This has led to a push for more content that serves a wider variety of commuters.

“The data can tell you so much more than you think. Let the data inform your journalism. Don’t let it lead your journalism but it definitely can inform,” Gow said.

Additionally, the newsroom workflow has adapted to incorporate data. Gow said, “Reporters now need to pitch with data to show there is an audience that is waiting to be reached.”


4. Giving the people behind the story a voice  

Content that is personal and relatable to the reader drives more engagement. That is why Trinity Mirror regional journalists are actively taking a step back from stories and giving platforms to the people behind the story.

Gow said, “People really connect when they can read stories directly. We get a longer reader time.”

An example of this is how Wales Online spent a year creating a digital tribute for the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster, which killed 144 people in south Wales. The tribute provided a platform for the people affected by the disaster and proved a success for the paper with the average reading time being 7 minutes.

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1. The International Newsroom Summit was organised by WAN-IFRA & took place at Reuters in London.

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