When I was the editor of a small daily newspaper in Massachusetts, we had monthly reader advisory board meetings.
A dozen or so readers -- picked carefully by our team based on demographics and engagement with the newspaper -- literally came to our office, and I greeted each one at the door. We had a targeted agenda, maintained a lively discussion and produced action items.
The result? Story ideas for my staff, rotating columns in our editorial section by advisory board members and some brand recognition in our four small communities.