11 Ways You Can Support Publishers Amidst Coronavirus (Beyond a Donation!)

Now, more than ever, we’re relying on content to keep us sane.

We depend on the news for updates on all things pertaining to the virus. We depend on reporters to immerse themselves into the action to paint the most realistic and informative picture possible. We depend on journalists to serve as watchdogs throughout the chaos, keeping the government and the private sector accountable for their actions. We depend on more light-hearted, feel-good stories to boost our spirits during this time of uncertainty. We depend on silly photos and quizzes to distract us. We depend on cartoons to make us think about the situation from a different perspective.

Millions of essential workers are on the front lines every day — protecting our safety, nursing us back to health, delivering our home needs… and keeping us informed throughout this globally-spanning pandemic.

At Outbrain, we’re eternally grateful for all front line employees and volunteers — from nurses and doctors to journalists and newsrooms — and we put together this video as a small token of our appreciation.

Wondering how you can show your support for all the news sources keeping you up-to-date? Here are 11 easy ways you can thank the publishers that you love for all the tireless work they do. Spoiler alert — more than half of them are free!

  1. Sign Up for an Email Newsletter
  2. Read More Than Just the Headlines
  3. Turn Off Your Ad-Blocker
  4. Share the Content You Enjoy Most
  5. Download the App
  6. Buy Products Through Publisher Affiliate Links, When Possible
  7. Follow the Journalists and Publications You Love on Social
  8. Pay to Subscribe to a Premium News Site
  9. Gift a Subscription to a Loved One
  10. Check Out Your Favorite Publishers’ Digital Stores
  11. Send a ‘Thank You’ Note


Sign Up for an Email Newsletter

Show your loyalty to the sites that you read up on the most by subscribing to one of their email newsletters. Publishers leverage email newsletters for a wide variety of reasons: to better understand their audience, connect with readers on a more personal level, increase site traffic, A/B test headlines, secure advertising dollars, and more.

Especially if you’re working from home, email newsletters can be a great way to break up your work day and consolidate the stories that you’re most interested in, all in one place!

Read More Than Just the Headlines

When time and attention are limited, which they almost always are, the human brain naturally lends itself to skimming rather than reading. This allows us to absorb as much valuable information as possible with the fewest amount of resources.

As the majority of us are quarantined at home right now, living at a much slower pace than normal, I challenge you to make a conscious decision to click into a few of the headlines you’re in the routine of skimming, and fully digest the article.

Doing so has multiple benefits, for both you and the publisher: gain a deeper understanding of a given subject, verify the headlines you’re consuming are not spreading false information, appreciate the time and effort that went into producing that piece of content, improve on-site metrics for the news organization, and so much more.

Turn Off Your Ad-Blocker

It’s easy to take free content for granted, but important to remember that it comes with a cost for the publishers producing it.

While we consumers rightfully find the typical pop-up and display ads distracting, these ads (in combination with more engaging and less intrusive native placements such as Outbrain feeds) are often large contributing revenue streams for publishers creating free content.

Even just allowing these ads to load on the page usually reaps positive benefits for the publishers who host them, so if this is your only form of payment for unlimited free content, I’d consider it a pretty good deal!

Share the Content You Enjoy Most

Fifty years ago, if a great article came out in the newspaper, everyone in town would see it, read it and discuss it. Today, in a digital landscape, where the options are virtually unlimited and personally-tailored, there’s a good chance your friends and family will never come across that piece of content organically.

So, this one’s easy: spread the love! After reading an amazing story, send it to a friend or share it on your social media accounts.

Boosting the eyeballs on the content you love benefits publishers and ultimately benefits you, as shares are frequently taken into consideration when brainstorming future content to produce!

Download the App

While the difference between reading an article on a mobile web browser vs. on a publisher’s app may seem miniscule, the difference to the publisher is far greater.

Often, publishers monetize their app traffic completely separate from their web traffic. Not only are in-app ad formats typically less intrusive to the reader’s experience, they’re also able to leverage more data signals, making them significantly more relevant. It’s a win for the publisher, and it’s also a win for you.

Buy Products Through Publisher Affiliate Links, When Possible

Ever search what to get your family and friends for birthdays and holidays every year? You’re not alone. Next time you’re reading through an article about the Best Father’s Day Gifts, Top Smartwatches of 2020, or Presents for People who Love Cooking, consider purchasing the product directly from the article you found it in. There is usually no difference in price, and a portion of the sale will go to the publisher.

Follow the Journalists and Publications You Love on Social

Following the publishers and writers you love on social media allows you to stay up to date on their latest content, no matter where it is published across the web. It also allows them to build and promote their brand, connect with their fans and, ultimately, receive more content views and interactions.

Considering how much free content these people and platforms are providing you, a social media follow is a great method of payment that will go a long way and doesn’t cost you a dime.

Pay to Subscribe to a Premium News Site

Ever see a super interesting headline and click on the article only to find out that the content is paywalled, roll your eyes, and close the tab? We’ve all been there.

Since there is so much free content out there, when we see a price tag attached to an article, our first reaction tends to be annoyance. However, the reality that we often fail to consider during this process is that publishers need money to do what they do. Some leverage traditional advertisements, some create sponsored content, some garner revenue from affiliate links, and many do a combination of these things and more, yet still struggle to make ends meet.

A paywall is simply a more direct way of funding their endeavors, and is typically no more expensive than your Chipotle order, or sometimes even a cup of coffee!

If you have the financial means, I highly recommend testing out a subscription to your favorite premium publisher, and really assess the cost vs. the benefit. Especially given the current state, a lot of publishers are offering extended free trials and/or one-of-a-kind deals on their subscription services. See how the user experience is different, if the quality of the content is better, if there are any additional perks that come with a subscription, and then make the decision. Most often, it’s a lower price to pay for a higher-quality product!

Gift a Subscription to a Loved One

Not sold on the idea of subscribing yourself? Well, a subscription makes the perfect gift for a friend or family member, who might not think of treating themselves to one.

Especially for an annual celebration like a birthday, a yearly subscription is the gift that keeps on giving, all the way up until the next one.

Check Out Your Favorite Publishers’ Digital Stores

I don’t know about you, but since retail shopping is not currently an option, my online shopping addiction has been in full swing. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve almost run out of sites to browse.

Feeling similarly? Next time you have the urge to shop, consider seeing if any of the publishers you love have online stores; to my surprise, a lot of the ones that came to my mind actually did.

Even more of a pleasant surprise to me was that they don’t just sell cheesy t-shirts (though there are certainly a plethora of options if that’s what you’re in the market for). I found gadgets, subscription services, online courses, and a ton more.

Definitely a great way to pass a few hours and come out of quarantine with something you never knew you needed!

Send a ‘Thank You’ Note

If you came across particularly inspiring, thought-provoking, or well-written coverage during quarantine, make your appreciation known.

Most publications have a “Contact Us” page, which lists an email address, social media details, or embedded form where you can share feedback with the editorial staff.

Take a few minutes and let them know that their hard work during this difficult time has not gone unnoticed. You never know who might read it, and how much of a positive impact it could have.

In such unprecedented times, it’s more critical now than ever that we show our appreciation to the people and organizations who are helping us through.

While a lot of the acts mentioned throughout this article may seem like small gestures, together, I believe we can truly make a difference in the trajectory and prosperity of journalism — every little thing counts.

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