The Arizona Republic is a daily newspaper based in Phoenix, Arizona, that serves the greater metro Phoenix area in print and online at azcentral.com.
As a digital producer for The Arizona Republic, my main focus was ensuring our headlines online were clear and focused for our audience, and our stories were optimized for SEO. I also led project management around specific projects and longforms as they came up.
Reaching our audience through search
During the 2018 election season, I spotted a good story for search that led our website traffic for most of the week after it was published.
In Arizona, people who vote early by mail can check online to see if their ballot had been officially counted. During the 2018 election, Arizona’s Senate race was so close that early ballot counting continued for almost a week after Election Day. I had a hunch that Arizonans would want to know how to check if their ballot had been counted.
So I checked search trends. Terms like “ballot counting,” “track ballot” and “ballot status” were spiking. A related term was “how to check if your ballot was counted.” I decided that it was likely our audience was looking for this information and we could easily provide it to them.
I pitched the story to the appropriate editor and we wrote it up. The story stayed at the top of our Chartbeat metrics for most of the next few days while counting continued. My hunch was proven right and, as a result, we were able to reach our audience by connecting them to the information they needed.
Building a following around Arizona politics
I revived The Republic’s quiet politics Twitter account (@azcpolitics) because I saw an
opportunity to reach people in Arizona who are interested in the topic. Twitter is a platform people tend to go to to talk about politics, which made it the perfect place to inform our audience about Arizona political issues.
I started writing and publishing posts of all types in October 2018. I posted links to articles as well as polls, videos, audiograms with audio clips of our politics podcast and photos from behind the scenes of the show. I crafted threads around specific topics, like border wall construction. We posted live updates on election results and even had a reporter live tweet the State of the State address from the account.
With a little experimentation and hard work, it all paid off. Throughout 2019, the account grew steadily from around 3,300 followers to almost 5,500 by December. We even received a few good questions from readers on the account that we’ve been able to incorporate into our coverage. Reviving the politics Twitter account built the beginning of a relationship with our audience.