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Engaging the community in real and meaningful ways to become the go-to place for everything relevant.

GOALS

Become the go-to site: Aggregate the most relevant information, regardless of source. (this includes Patch and Gatehouse).

BUILD BLOG NETWORK for breaking news.

Accept it’s better journalism than can be produced on our own.

Geo-target content – deliver relevant hyperlocal information to attract local advertisers.

 

Embrace power of social media and crowd sourcing,  using Twitter, Facebook, four square, and other tools.

BENEFITS OF ENGAGEMENT

Improve news-gathering capacity – those living in the community know it better than we do.

On-the-spot reporting

Expansion of coverage area by building contributor network

Increased onsite contributions via feedback, comments, polls, etc.

STEPS

1. Build community network of bloggers

Research local bloggers and get good ones to join.
Put blog feed on sites, divided by category (Local plus special interests – biking, gardening, pets, etc.
Sell advertising for blogs and split revenue.
Link to them aggressively and put them in our geo-coded feeds – this exposed them to relevant audiences.
In-person meet-ups around the region to get to know local bloggers.
Office hours in the field for staffers to meet periodically with local bloggers.

2. Expand Your Town homepage

Post best stories of day
Include Blog roll and live Twitter feed
Live traffic feed of 95, 128, 495, 2
Use metrics to determine when traffic is heaviest and update page to coincide. The most important metric for hyperlocals is saturation in a community, which leads to ad sales.
Dropdown to particular sites.

3.  Minimize busywork

Ask all event-holders to post to EXTRA
Enoiucrage those who regularly send material for posts to create blogs (e.g. politicians) we can link to.

4. Build real Facebook pages updated by interns.

Examples:
 
5.
Advertisements

AGGREGATION

We wanted  to be the go-to stop for local news.

Linked to all members of our community network/linked to all other local news sources
– BE THE TRAFFIC COP / save people time finding the news

Managing RSS feeds/Points Local has to be done by real people – not automated – on the choice sites so the best stories are posted.

Aggressive use of Twitter, Facebook, to not just get the word out, but to gather information for potential stories.

The NYT recently discontinued automated Twitter feeds: http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/media-lab/social-media/133431/new-york-times-tries-human-powered-tweeting-to-see-if-users-value-the-interaction/#storify

All reporters and editors should build Twitter feeds, using tools such as hootsuite and tweetdeck.

Here is Somerville feed I built on hootsuite:

BUILD MOBILE APPS 

By 2014, half of users will be getting their news on their phones.

Start with a simple, useful app with less focus on local news and more on weather, traffic. MBTA, nightspots.

BEATS

Pick few coverage areas and throw all resources behind them. Get routine coverage of meetings from other sources.

Potential concentrations that would encourage public participation: Watchdog (budgets, taxes, overrides, campaign spending, etc. ) and Transportation.

PRODUCERS

Change work flow on copy desk to free up more editors to concentrate on updating sites.

ROADBLOCKS

To succeed in a print legacy operation such as the Globe, we need:
Management support – let us experiment with innovation and experiments
Dedicated sales staff for local businesses
Convince print reporters this is the future and they should jump in now. Consider more regionalized stories and front-paging Drive, 128, etc. to free up more time for posting and social media

RECOMMENDATIONS

Pick a test site to experiment (Somerville); once we have figured out what works best, expand to nine other sites that have active blog and social media communities.

Figure out best way to automate the other 40 sites.  Stale content is our worst enemy;  Can we widget top two stories, sending fresh content 3 times a day?

GOOD READS

5 small steps journalists can take to build a bigger, more engaged audience

Getting beyond just pageviews:  Philly.com’s seven-part equation for measuring online engagement