richmond times dispatch   
︎ brand strategy, user experience, product innovation 


project background 

this work was part of a live client project for the richmond times dispatch.





the challenge

help the richmond times dispatch become a news source that millennials are willing to pay for.





the solution

the circle - an arm of rtd that’s dedicated to breaking down questions the community wants answered and reporting on the solutions that work.





the situation 
like most local newspapers, the richmond times dispatch is struggling to survive. their readership has been steadily declining over the last few years, and they want to rebuild their audience by targeting 18-34 year olds.


the problem
gen z and millennials regularly pay for their news, just not the richmond times dispatch.


the realization 
rtd isn’t connecting with a younger audience because it’s not representing a younger audience. 
consumer truth
when 18-34 year olds read local news stories, they either 1) feel informed about issues in the community but they walk away with unanswered questions, feeling powerless and confused about how they can actually help solve the problem, or 2) the news doesn't relate so they forget about the issues altogether.



category truth
the newsroom controls all of the reporting, making local news consumption a passive process.


the opportunity
connect with readers by making news consumption more active and involved through a solutions based journalism approach to local news.


the solution
the circle - an arm of the richmond times dispatch that reports on not just the problems in the community but also possible solutions.









brand pillars


big picture reporting

the circle reports on issues that are effecting the community and provides multiple perspectives on those issues.



community engagement

topics are suggested and voted on by the community. the circle empowers people to be a part of the solution by focusing on the issues that matter most to them. 

membership vs subscription model

readers are considered members of the circle, rather than subscribers. the goal is to build a community of engaged proactivists.





solutions journalism 
the circle takes a solutions jornalism approach to news reporting, which means reporting on not just the problems in the community but also possible solutions, giving people the complete story.

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the prototype

01 - learn
circle topics are covered for a period of 2-3 months. This encourages readers to follow stories and not forget about issues once they are consumed.
02 - join 
the circle is made up of a community of enthusiastic like-minded members versus disconnected subscribers. 
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03 - act
readers can vote on the kinds of topics they want the circle to report on.

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user validation






user testing

we measured how many richmond times dispatch and circle headlines users were able to generally recall or completely recall.

tasks | richmond times dispatch

1. read the headlines of top stories
2. visit the “about page”
3. find how one might submit a story idea
4. recall top headlines

score 2/4


tasks | the circle

1. introduce the circle’s homepage
2. read solution journalism approach
3. complete story selection process
4. recall top headlines

score 4/4





the team
marnie abraham (strategy)
joe mrava (experience design)
lauryn goodlett (experience design)
payal pereira (strategy)


my role
category and competitor research, social listening, brand audit, deck narrative, client presentation