You’ve probably been asked — or asked yourself — how do you measure success in your newsroom? I know I’ve spent a lot of time in newsrooms and in my current role answering that question.

Measuring success can be difficult. It can’t just be a raw look at pageviews, or single copy sales. It can’t just be state and national awards. Sometimes it’s just knowing you worked hard, dug deep and put out an exceptional piece of journalism that answered a question or pointed out an injustice.

I’ve invested hours defining what success looks like for my newsroom or my team, and determining how close we’ve come to those ideals. Last week, I began wondering if all that defining and determining was enough.

And I don’t think it is.

Jill Geisler is the Bill Plante Chair in Leadership and Media Integrity at Loyola University Chicago, and just an overall awesome journalist.
Jill Geisler is the Bill Plante Chair in Leadership and Media Integrity at Loyola University Chicago, and just an overall awesome journalist.

Jill Geisler, chair in Leadership and Media Integrity at Loyola University Chicago and author of “Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know,” has worked with GateHouse on training and leadership, and a metaphor she uses has stuck with me. She says you have to gift wrap your content for readers. It’s not enough to have a superbly written investigative piece. You have to have good photography, graphics that break down the details, a design that draws attention, etc.

That got me thinking, how effective am I, really, at communicating my department’s success within my own organization? Because I’ll tell you, my team does some really fantastic work. But how good am I at presenting it, both to my coworkers and my boss?

You showcase success to your readers in the form of enterprising content. But how do you report that success up, to your publisher? Again, beyond just the pageviews and single copy sales.

So here are four things I’m going to commit to, to better demonstrate my department’s success:

  1. Actually writing down goals for individual initiatives. What are the three or four things I really want to accomplish with this project? Can I demonstrate how they have been reached?
  2. Making my progress digestible. No one wants to read a long email detailing incremental movement. Try using a tool like project tracker TeamGantt, or organize your tasks into a graph.Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 2.51.06 PM
  3. Keeping it visual. I need to come armed with examples of good work, be they screen captures, PDFs, etc., to break up the text and keep my audience engaged.
  4. Communicating better. My team’s work needs to be more visible to my co-workers — and this can be as simple as setting up a few shared Google docs or a shared calendar.

When your publisher is evaluating your success as a leader, make sure she’s not simply evaluating a website and newsprint. You giftwrap your content — why not the rest of the work you do?

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