San Francisco Public Press: Project Summary

San Francisco Public Press produces local public interest news daily online and in a quarterly print newspaper. It focuses on civic life in San Francisco and also covers issues with regional or state-level implications.

Community Connectors is SFPP’s engagement initiative to broaden the reach of public policy journalism by leveraging relationships with community groups and key influencers.

Public Press will apply classic organizing tactics and social influence marketing in new ways for its publications. SFPP leaders will reach out to 40 neighborhood, professional, religious and political interest groups, making presentations and holding conversations at their meetings.

SFPP will target groups active both in areas where it has experienced high newspaper sales and those with low newspaper distribution — the latter generally low-income areas or ethnic enclaves with poor penetration by other paid publications, in effect urban news deserts. After short presentations to groups, Public Press street ambassadors will distribute newspaper, brochures, donation envelopes and signup sheets and use tablets to demonstrate the website.

This proposal builds on previous learnings from SFPP’s Innovation Fund project, The Bicycling Street Ambassadors program, which developed audience directly at the individual level via in-person public contact. The influencer-based project is expected to build membership, audience and editorial sources at a larger scale. It also will lead to a one-day conference on a key news topic, funded through sponsorships and admission.

Judges felt this was a smart approach, adopting organizing tactics and leveraging influencers to gain stature, visibility — and support. It will be easily applicable in many city-focused newsrooms, though not necessarily on a large geographic scale. It is a strong example of building on one success to extend its impact and use the skills developed from that project in a new way.