Friday, June 12, 2009

Community newspaper survival guide

"Ten Things Local Newspapers Need To Do" is an interesting article that ran on this morning.

Here are some of my favorites:

"3. Out with circ staff, in with SEO: This one will be hard for newspapers to follow, but Glaser says to cut the circulation, printing, print production side and supplant them with more tech, SEO, community managers. Your readers are online and it’s time to cultivate that readership."

OK, for selfish reasons, I really like No. 3, but I do believe community newspapers should invest more money in their online staffs, both editorial and advertising. Community newspapers should also help small companies create a better Web presence for their business. If you can help little guys like Nick's Good Times Tow -- (Aside: That's a real business, and I always imagine having my car towed by them and being handed a beer or something.) -- improve its Web presence, it's only going to help your ability to sell local online advertising.

"6. Find a better reason for multimedia: Just because anyone can use a video camera, doesn’t mean you should run clips for the hell of it. Find a good reason to use video or audio—and if you don’t have one, don’t use it."

At the same time, don't assume you have to use a lot of expensive equipment and know a lot about video production in order to use video on your site. A cheap digital camera, YouTube and a basic understanding of Windows MovieMaker is a good place to start.

"9. You’re in the directory business: Newspapers missed out early on by not broadening their advertiser mix to include plumbers and pizza places. Online directories snapped up those dollars when the space was still growing substantially. Still, better late than ever, a number of newspapers have been turning to local businesses they previously ignored. And given newspapers’ continued brand advantage, they can set up their own local directories and beat the interlopers at their own game."

Creating directories are a great way to attract new readers and encourage readers to come to your site for more than news. For each directory, you should create a separate page for each business or organization that you list. This will help you rank for each business or organization and will also increase your average page views per visit (stickiness).

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