For years, local news organizations have been leveraging a central powerhouse for national content. This entity has many names: National Content Desk (NCD), Digital Content Center (DCC), or any other similar moniker. Its goal is to take the weight off your strapped local stations by creating national + regional content and pulling things from the wire services.

If you don’t have a national desk, what they do maybe a bit murky. If you already have one, you are likely facing some challenges. Regardless, there are many benefits to consolidating work.

Some things that a national desk may be able to do :

  • Pull wire service content and make it available in the CMS for stations to publish.
  • Create national content that every local site may need. This eliminates the need for stations to duplicate efforts on major national events like, for example, the presidential election results. 
  • Create multimedia content and make it available for station use – videos, infographics, etc.
  • Alert stations to trending content opportunities – pulling trends from Google, Crowdtangle, Twitter, etc. can save stations a ton of time when sent directly to them via e-mail.
  • Send alerts for trending content that may be valuable in other markets are alerted via e-mail, Slack, or any internal communication platform you utilize.
  • Provide recirculation opportunities leading up to holidays or weekends. Chances are there some of your stations missed successful content throughout the week that can still work for recent recirculation.
  • Suggest social post opportunities when relevant
  • Share tons of information! This one gets missed sometimes, but there can be a ton of value in distributing information, whether social media tips, tech training, content ideas working in other markets, etc. 

If you’re at a local station, how can a national desk help you?

Is the national content relevant for your market? Publish it! If it’s something that you already covered or can cover in a different way for your DMA, then skip it. It’s that easy!

You can use it on social media to fill evening and overnight gaps. Maybe they got to a breaking news piece faster than you – push it out! Use it as if it were your content – they’re creating content to help you.

Sending content straight to your CMS.

Make sure you work with your national desk to set up a system that works for receiving content. This process can be complicated, depending on your CMS capabilities, but it’s the most crucial part. If your editors still have to copy and format a post after pulling the piece, that’s not all that helpful.

Here are things that may be helpful to receive from your national desk:

  • National wire stories
  • Original national stories
  • Original regional stories
  • Trending stories from other markets

Offering guidance on what’s working for other stations.

If you’re in Baton Rouge and something happens in New Orleans that is striking a chord with a local station, chances are it will work for you too! Your national desk can help you not miss an opportunity to pull a story from a sister station in another market.

Maybe a daily/weekly e-mail of suggested content from other markets would be valuable. Have them pull links and send them around. Share the wealth!

Giving them feedback helps refine the process.

Once you’ve ironed out those details, the most important thing you can do is provide (kind!) feedback! Let them know what is the most helpful. Keep in mind that – just as you have limited resources – so does a national content desk. They’re trying to do what’s best for all of the stations!