This entry-level program helps newsrooms develop membership programs tailored to their mission, audience and resources. This course is intended for news publishers that have no membership program but are considering applying staff and/or financial resources to building one. 

Participants will leave this five-week program with the following outcomes: 

  • Deciding whether to initiate a membership program
  • Which type of membership program is right for them
  • How to frame a program in a way that resonates with their audience
  • What is required of their organization to sustain such a program. 

Led by The Texas Tribune’s RevLab, in coordination with The Membership Puzzle Project, the course met weekly for 90-minute sessions between Nov. 6 and December 11. You can watch recordings of each session below.

RevLab is a grant-funded resource center that helps publishers expand revenue-generating capabilities. RevLab is based within The Texas Tribune and funded in part by the Facebook Journalism Project.  

Course Overview

Week 1: Is membership right for me?

This session defines news revenue models, of which there are many. It then guides participants to assess whether membership is right for them and what they need to put in place to implement a membership strategy that fits their organization and audience needs.

Week 2: Making the case for membership to your potential member

The key to designing a membership program that people actually want to join is knowing your audience. That means you need to conduct audience research. This session will provide an overview of audience research best practices and outline the type of audience research you should conduct to fill your knowledge gaps regarding membership. The second half of the session will walk you through the steps to identify your membership value proposition. 

Week 3: Setting objectives and developing memberful routines

If you don’t have measurable, mission-aligned objectives for your membership program, you’ll struggle to assess whether membership is “working” and whether it’s worth the investment. In the first half of the session, we’ll walk you through MPP’s step-by-step process for setting mission-aligned, measurable membership objectives.

Membership is a two-way exchange between a newsroom and its most loyal audience members. That means you need to find ways to meaningfully involve your members. The second half of the session will focus on identifying opportunities for audience participation that meet your needs and your audience members’ motivations. 

Week 4: Designing your membership program

Once you’ve articulated your membership value proposition, conducted audience research, and set membership goals, it’s time to design your membership program. This session will walk you through the decisions you’ll have to make and the factors you should consider as you design your program.

Week 5: Integrating membership into your organization

In the final session, we’ll break down the costs, tech, and staffing needs of a membership program, with a particular focus on the five most common staffing challenges member-driven newsrooms face, and how to solve them without making a new hire. We’ll also present a tested pre-launch checklist that you can use to get ready for your launch date.

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