Interview with Mistral Höltzcke: New formats are needed to reach new target groups
Mistral Höltzcke, assistant to the management at the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung, is not only a digital native, but also committed to trying out new ways of reporting that are intended to appeal to younger target groups in particular. For the booming social media platform TikTok, he has established a completely new format: the RNZ News Rap.
In the form of concise news presented as a rap, he summarises local news in a concise and modern way, thus turning news into an attractive short video that is completely tailored to the methods of TikTok. In the interview, he explains to us what experiences Mr. Höltzcke has already had and what the background to RNZ News Rap is in more detail.
Silke (alfa Media): Hello and first of all, thank you for giving us some insights into your work and allowing us to learn from your experiences. But before we get into the topic: Can you introduce yourself in your own words?
Mistral (Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung): Hello Silke. My name is Mistral Höltzcke, I come from Heidelberg and have been working for the family-owned company Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung GmbH for just over a year. Here, I mostly take on tasks in the area of digitalisation. Before that, I completed my Master’s degree in Crossmedia Publishing & Management at the Stuttgart Media University.
Silke (alfa): You have launched a new format on TikTok, namely RNZ News Rap. Please tell us briefly what it is about?
Mistral (RNZ): The RNZ News Rap is a short rap (including video) that covers a few topics – usually four to seven local topics – from the past week. I produce the RNZ News Rap (rap + video) once a week.
Silke (alfa): How did you come up with the idea for the News Rap? Was it a spontaneous or a strategic decision to try it out?
Mistral (RNZ): News Rap was more of a spontaneous idea. Of course, strategic points in the field of digitalisation, such as addressing target groups on social media, contribute to the fact that such ideas can arise in the first place. Since I like to produce my own beats and rap/hip-hop songs in my private life, I thought about how I could incorporate music into my work at the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung. The RNZ News Rap is the result. The format of a News Rap is not necessarily new either, see bigFM.
Silke (alfa): What has been your experience with this so far? As far as I have seen, you publish the News Rap on TikTok and meanwhile also on Instagram. Can you tell us something about the numbers and reactions?
Mistral (RNZ): So far the experience has been pretty good. For the most part, I get really positive feedback and also already relatively high numbers of views (Instagram). Of course, our account “rnzonline” on TikTok still has to grow at this point. This also depends on the intensity of posts. Posting something on TikTok once a week is still far too little. Of course, some “hate” is not completely out of the question. But that is unfortunately normality nowadays, especially in social media.
Silke (alfa): What do you hope for from the innovations, or rather, which of your goals do you pay attention to?
Mistral (RNZ): First and foremost, I hope that News Rap will ensure that we reach new and also younger target groups. Even if the music is not necessarily to everyone’s taste or the rap is sometimes not exactly on beat or perfectly mixed, it is another way of bringing news closer to people. It would be nice if it helps the younger generations in particular to engage more with the local news, and maybe some of them enjoy learning some new news from the region through News Rap.
Silke (alfa): How do you see the potential of social media in general in the context of newspaper publishers? Do we meet the right target group here? Or in your opinion, what conditions would have to be met in order to tap into a new target group?
Mistral (RNZ): In my opinion, the potential of newspaper publishers in the area of social media is very high. From my point of view, there is no right or wrong target group here, because the news is available to everyone. In my opinion, the most important prerequisite is the right approach for the respective target group. If we assume a younger target group, it should be a funny, casual or cool video in which the news is conveyed. In the best case, this video is based on a current trend. Of course, this is not always easy to implement. I think many publishers can still improve a lot in the area of addressing the respective social media and thus the different target groups (age groups).
Silke (alfa): Do you see a conflict between serious, independent reporting and the use of new formats like News Rap?
Mistral (RNZ): I don’t see a conflict here. Serious, independent reporting still remains. Newspaper publishers are losing more and more print subscribers and sooner or later the classic newspaper as it is now will either no longer exist or will be a small (very small circulation) expensive niche product. In the end, only the medium is changing. A newspaper publisher is also a media company. So why should a media company not be represented with its consistent reporting on the respective media channels? After all, only the format or the approach changes, and such changes are completely normal.
Silke (alfa): If you wanted to give other publishing houses an insider tip on new formats, what would it be?
Mistral (RNZ): Unfortunately, I don’t have a real insider tip. But I can only say that every publishing house has to try out new formats and channels (media) with its news. One example would be a stronger focus on video content in social media! Here, of course, you have to be brave! What kind of videos – something with music, a funny interview, explainer videos etc. – basically doesn’t matter. The main thing is to use the possibilities and potentials you have and dare to do something new.
Silke (alfa): Thank you very much for your time and the valuable insights. I am already looking forward to seeing more of you on Insta and TikTok.