Just prior to making my way back to journalism, I attended an intense two-week Executive Education program at Stanford Graduate School of Business focused on helping companies learn what their customers need, and then, hopefully, coming up with innovative products and services to meet those needs.
It sounds easy, but it is not so simple.
“Talk to your customers.” Our professors repeated the command like a mantra to participants from companies throughout the world such as Ricola, and organizations such as a world surfing association. Many of us shifted uncomfortably in our seats because we knew that in our busy day-to-day business operations we often neglect to communicate with the people who are arguably the most important catalysts to the success of our organizations.
When I left Stanford GSB to become the editor-in-chief at the San Francisco Media Company, I promised myself that I would heed the advice of my Stanford mentors, and do what too many companies – news organizations included – fail to do as often as they should.
This week we are asking readers of SF Weekly and The Examiner to fill out an online feedback survey. We want to know how you get your news, and what topics you are interested in reading about. We want to know what we are doing well, and what we can do better. We want to know if you trust our reporting. And, if you are not a reader, what can we do to make you one?
You can access the survey for The Examiner or by emailing me at email@example.com. We also will be sending it out in our email newsletters.
The 10-question survey will take only six minutes to fill out and we would really appreciate receiving your feedback. You will have the option of adding contact information should we want to ask more in depth questions, but that is optional, and we will never share your personal information with others.
These surveys will also help us sharpen our focus or expand it out.
I often tell my team that one of the most difficult parts of our jobs is figuring what stories not to cover. There is no shortage of things to write about in a city vibrant with cultural events, and challenged by maddeningly complex social issues to solve. But limited time and resources require us to make choices — almost by the minute — about where to devote our attention.
Please pass it on to your friends and colleagues, especially those who have yet to become readers of our websites, newspapers, apps, and email newsletters.
We can’t promise we will heed every suggestion or meet every need, but finding out what readers want is a good first step.
As always, you can write me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or suggestions about how we do our jobs and how we can do them better.
Deborah Petersen is the editor- in-chief of San Francisco Media Company which publishes The Examiner, SF Weekly and SF Evergreen.