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How Canva empowers USA Today to break news at speed


  • USA Today teams work together within Canva to deliver breaking news, information, and analysis in visually compelling ways to millions of people across their social channels and digital sites.
  • Canva’s Brand Kit means journalists can consistently publish digital assets in a way that strengthens their trusted news brand.
  • In the last 12 months, USA Today's Instagram account has seen followers grow by 18%, and TikTok has exploded by one million followers.
  • More than 100 Instagram accounts across the USA Today Network use Canva to design social media graphics. The main USA Today and sub-brand accounts including News, Sport, Politics have collectively seen over 100% YOY audience growth on the platform.

About USA Today

USA Today delivers the news to millions of people daily across hundreds of digital platforms. What began as a national newspaper in 1982 now reaches more than 100M people globally every month. Across dozens of newsrooms, USA Today’s large team of reporters, videographers, and editors must work fast to bring the most impactful stories of the day to their audience through unique visual storytelling.

The Challenge

In today’s fast-paced visual economy, modern media brands and publishers face a crucial challenge: how to capture consumers’ attention amid the evolving digital landscape and non-stop news cycle.

USA Today’s Creative Director for Audience, Elizabeth Shell, oversees the production and distribution of digital assets for the news network across all social platforms. A highly visual, social-first strategy, Elizabeth says, is essential to delivering the news to modern audiences at speed.

“One of the biggest shifts that I've seen in how consumers engage with news is they are looking for the news in places they're already on — in their social media feeds, in text messages, in newsletters,” she says.

“And so we want to make sure that we're meeting our audiences where they're at, and a lot of times, that's on their phone.”

For Elizabeth’s team, operating in a 24/7 newsroom demands visual-first digital storytelling at speed and scale. Ensuring brand consistency across every piece of content published is also critical to safeguard the masthead’s reputation.

Canva's Brand Kit offers allows USA Today teams to confidently create on-brand assets for their channels.

The Solution

With her background as a graphic designer, Elizabeth adopted Canva in 2021 and the design platform has been rolled out across dozens of newsrooms for the USA Today network as well as the parent company, Gannett.

“I switched to using Canva once I saw the ease of use. The barrier to entry is very low, it's easy to train, and it's terrific for collaborative work that other tools just don't have. For us in the newsroom, it was the right tool to use,” she says.

As a centralized design and publishing platform, Canva for Teams empowers USA Today newsrooms and journalists to break news and deliver breaking stories in visual ways on multiple social media platforms.

Crafting must-know information in simple, on-brand visual formats is proven to quickly engage audiences on multiple social platforms.

Quotation mark
“Canva has revolutionized the way that we do work across the team."

Elizabeth Shell

Creative Director for Audience, USA Today

Delivering the news at speed

Speed is currency in news, and Canva for Teams helps USA Today newsrooms deliver news to the audience as it breaks. With instant access to USA Today branded assets in Canva, reporters can publish information in real-time in a way that strengthens, rather than jeopardizes, the brand. There is no need to cut corners on brand consistency in order to meet a deadline.

“News really does move very quickly, and we need to move quickly with it. We're able to build all sorts of templates within Canva, whether we're building something for Instagram, or a vertical video and adding captions,” Elizabeth says.

“Our colors, logos, fonts — everything is right at our fingertips. So it really helps us have a strong, cohesive feel and look to what we're building and designing with Canva.”

Canva’s Brand Kit feature has made this possible across the news network and sub-vertical brands, such as Sport, Opinion, and Travel. Each team has its own Brand Kit under the main USA Today umbrella and can confidently create on-brand assets for their channels. The same applies to special event coverage, whether the Olympics, or elections. Designers can plan and design bespoke templates, saving these within Canva folders ahead of time, ready to be deployed in time for editorial coverage.

“My goal is when you see something from USA Today on social media, that it has that consistent style. It has that trusted brand, and it is giving you the information that you need now,” Elizabeth said.

Collaborating in a 24/7 newsroom

USA Today journalists are spread across the US and the world, in newsrooms, in the field, and working from home. This hybrid, national workforce needs to collaborate all day and night, especially when news breaks.

Canva’s real-time collaboration tools empower USA Today teams to work on designs simultaneously, adding images, feedback and approvals instantly, no matter their location.

“We could not do what we do without the really robust collaborative abilities across Canva,” Elizabeth says.

“This is the way that we are able to tell sometimes some of the most heartbreaking stories in the news.”

Elizabeth raises the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in May 2022, which saw USA Today Network teams operate as an efficient, collaborative team amid a fast-moving breaking news story. On-the-ground teams shared timely information and images directly from the event with newsroom teams. The content was uploaded into Canva and visually communicated via social channels.

“We were able to use Canva to collaborate to help tell that story,” she says.

“Some of these stories that we are telling, and some of the news of the day can be extremely heavy. And sometimes one of the most impactful ways we can tell the news and share it with our audiences is through visual storytelling, bringing together photos, the videos, what people are saying, design, all of that together into a cohesive package. So the collaborative nature is definitely one of the most important things to me in terms of just being able to work together, especially in a virtual [workplace],” she said.

USA Today reporters can publish information in real-time while always remaining on brand.

Designing for every platform

USA Today’s digital-first, visual storytelling approach enables the team to keep millions of people informed every day, and expand the brand’s social footprint at the same time. There are more than 8.2 million people following USA Today across the Network’s Instagram accounts for daily news information.

“One of my driving principles as a journalist is, ‘How do I get the news into the hands of the people who need it?’ We are thinking about designing the news for the mobile space and what that looks like for people who are on the go,” she says.

The rise of vertical video on TikTok and Instagram Reels has also been a boon to USA Today teams, who use Canva to create quick captions, text straps and graphics for their speedily published videos.

“The ease of which you can edit and caption the video at speed has been incredible with Canva,” Elizabeth says.

More than 100 Instagram accounts across the USA Today Network use Canva to design social media graphics. In the last 12 months, USA Today’s Instagram audience has grown by over 18% to 3.1 million people, and TikTok has exploded 40% year-on-year to 1.4 million followers.

“The collaborative nature, and the ease of use of Canva allows us to meet the news needs, but also be able to package our stories in a visual way for readers and meet them in the places where they're at.”
Elizabeth Shell
Creative Director for Audience, USA Today

Content sponsored by Canva. USA Today has not received any compensation in exchange for its endorsement.

Features Mentioned

Brand Kit

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Real-time collaboration

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Team Folders

Save, tag, share, and store assets safely


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Canva Video

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