What is BATTLE?
I've challenged myself to battle the management at my school's newspaper The Daily Orange with a new 'new media' topic every week.
I've been doing this for a few weeks now, and have a bit of a backlog of posts on the subjects we've been talking about. The following is a post that I just published at copress, that was originally intended for BATTLE. Expect to see more of these posts.
Bloggers are the anti-journalist.
Or at least that was the thinking at newspapers several years ago. Now that blogging has gained at least tacit acceptance among "true" journalists, newsrooms are encountering the very two same problems that have plagued bloggers since the dawn of... blogging: consistently producinggood content, and getting that content the exposure it deserves.
The good news, however, is that creating content comes relatively easy for journalists who are already used to having to meet a daily deadline. Once they accept the idea that a blog can be true journalism, they can adapt it as a less formal news article, a summary of their notes, sharing of a pitch that didn’t work out, a conversation with their readers, a series of relevant thoughts, or whatever gets ‘em blogging; most journalists seem to take to the new tool with gusto.
Look at me! Please?
Part of the problem with blogs is that they have developed a stigma among the public — very similar to the way journalists used to feel. Therefore, getting your audience to click to a new area of your site that doesn’t necessarily have the latest "news" can be a challenge.
Case in point: at The Daily Orange, we’ve recently relaunched our Sports Blog network. The sports department has not only taken to the whole blogging experience, but they’ve really embraced the platform as a way of publishing a ton fantastic content that just does not fit into normal news articles. See this great video post example. The issue here is that the blog network receives relatively few visits when compared to the main site. It also suffers heavily in the search rankings because it doesn’t have the Google juice of dailyorange.com.
What follows is a summary list of ideas that we’ve been brainstorming at The Daily Orange for getting our content noticed online. I’ve expanded it a bit to serve a general purpose audience.
Write for your niche audience. Don’t worry about entertaining the "average" viewer. Blogs are for the folk who want to know all there is to know about a singular topic. It is important to include your personal voice. The occasional post to let your readers see a "behind the scenes" view generates a lot of loyalty. College Publisher users will note that there is no blogging system built into the platform. The best way (read: only way) to make up for this is to run a separate blogging platform. The problem with this is that, as a separate website, you loose all the previously mentioned Google Juice that your main site has gained. There are ways to help with this:
- Link to the blog in the main navigation bar of the College Publisher site
- Put a tease for the blog (including links to the most recent posts) on the front page of the main website (this can easily be done with a widget)
- Link back to the main site on the blog
- Mention relevant blog articles in main news articles (with links, of course!)
Adopt Facebook. Love it or hate it, Facebook is the best platform to reach college students online. Positive steps include:
- Start a Facebook Page for your blog or news organization, and be sure the videos and blog posts auto-post to that page
- Have someone in charge of that page! You can rotate the responsibility if you like, but just as it’s important for your blog to have constant content so that it feels live, your Facebook page needs to have the same tender lovin’ care. All it takes is getting the status update changed a few times a week, or just sending out a message every week pointing people to a good blog post
- Be sure that all your relevant content reposts to your Facebook Page. This includes blog posts, videos and news articles. It’s also a good idea to link to content that you don’t generate. (Do what you do best, link to the rest.)
- Send out messages to your fans. Topics could include: a contest to ask for photos of some theme of the week (mid-terms, craziest fan costume, etc). Promise to run the top photo on the blog and in the print edition. You can also send out breaking news alerts via Facebook; the truth is that you’ll probably get more viewers on Facebook than on your main site.
Get on Twitter. If your newsroom is low on Twitter acceptance scale, (we’re at stage 1 at The Daily Orange), believe me when I tell you that will not, and can't last. Twitter has proven on three separate occasions (Mumbai, Plane crash in Denver, Plane crash in the Hudson) that it's a valuable news source. Welcome to the future. More importantly, Twitter is a hot-bed of early adopters right now. Want to get noticed? Want Poynter,Romenesko, CICM, and others to recognize your work? Twitter is a great medium for that. Twitter is much like your Facebook profile: it must be personable. This takes someone deciding to truly use the tool. Shoveling links on to it, is poor form, and really doesn't encourage people to follow. @latimes and @missoulianphoto do a fantastic job of using Twitter. Check 'em out if you wanna see how it's done. If you don’t want to manage accounts at Twitter and Facebook and [enter social network site here] check out Ping.fm. They can help make a lot of the status updating automatic. You've got great content, now be great bloggers. No matter how you feel about it as a medium, blogging is going be here for quite sometime, and it's got it's own rules and culture associated with it. Linking is key. I’ll go ahead and write that again so that you don’t miss it:
Linking is key.
You've got to fill up the glass of Google Juice with links. Bloggers figured this out a long time ago, it’s why we’ve got things like blogrolls and Technorati. Some of the best ways of getting noticed are to start commenting on other related blogs. Say something relevant (“nice post” doesn’t count) and perhaps point them back to one of your own blog posts.
If your local city paper covers the same content, leaving a comment there can make the local community aware of the fact that you even exist. Generating a conversation between blogs is beneficial for both parties, and serves the audience by inciting conversation. It’s a win for all involved (not to mention, good journalism). Visuals are not optional. People like pretty pictures. If your blog is pure text, you stand the risk of looking very user-unfriendly. You’ve got a photo department – use ‘em. Oh, and shooting video is cool too. A 3 minute recording of two reporters wrapping up a sporting event is easy, it’s something they do anyway, and will give a ‘behind the scenes view’ that your viewers will enjoy.
This has by no means been a comprehensive list of ways to get your content noticed, but at 1,200 words, I figure we’d better call it quits. If however, you’ve got a strategy you’ve used to get your blog readership up, please share in the comments on the CoPress blog.