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Community Blogs 2.0 GateHouse Media News & Interactive DIAL IN: 888-398-2342 ACCESS CODE: 585-200-4058 *6 or Mute button NO HOLD.

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Presentation on theme: "Community Blogs 2.0 GateHouse Media News & Interactive DIAL IN: 888-398-2342 ACCESS CODE: 585-200-4058 *6 or Mute button NO HOLD."— Presentation transcript:

1 Community Blogs 2.0 GateHouse Media News & Interactive DIAL IN: 888-398-2342 ACCESS CODE: 585-200-4058 *6 or Mute button NO HOLD

2 Agenda Why blogs? The survey Recruitment Retention Frequency DIAL IN: 888-398-2342 ACCESS CODE: 585-200-4058 *6 or Mute button NO HOLD

3 Why blogs? From the newsroom handbook: “Community blogs add another layer of local content to your website. When you pick the right bloggers or content, you add to a portfolio of local experts who can speak on relevant issues, furthering your site as a destination for your community to visit.” DIAL IN: 888-398-2342 ACCESS CODE: 585-200-4058 *6 or Mute button NO HOLD

4 Why blogs? EMPHASIS ON: > You’re not just fulfilling an Inner Circle requirement – you’re offering new, interesting, informative, entertaining local voices to your roster of writers. Think of community bloggers like reporter stringers. And treat them that way. Don’t set them and forget them.

5 Why blogs? Blogs aren’t dead: There are more than 76 million WordPress blogs in the world, according to WordPress. Over 409 million people view more than 13.1 billion pages each month on WordPress. There are lots of other blog platforms where readers follow topics and people they connect with.

6 The survey From the horse’s mouth About 40 bloggers from Massachusetts were sent a survey regarding their experiences and concerns writing for us. 28 bloggers responded (70% return rate) It was clear people appreciated the contact and opportunity to give feedback.

7 The survey Some takeaways: Most people started blogging with us because we asked them to. Half had never blogged before. They continued blogging for us because of the positive community feedback they’d received, as an outlet for their writing bug and exposure the paper affords them. Most bloggers self-promote on social media.

8 The survey Some takeaways: The best things about blogging with us: a built-in readership, easy, far-reaching, reaction, relatable because they’re local The worst things about blogging with us: Lack of editor feedback, no stats, little promotion, technical problems, not paid

9 The survey Feedback Overwhelmingly, bloggers want feedback, not only from their readers, but from their editors. They want: editing ideas for improvement blog post ideas promotion statistics to show how many people are reading their blogs

10 Recruitment ID blog topic openings Audit the blogs you currently offer Identify gaps in the topics you think your community would respond to

11 Recruitment Sample blog topics Travel Photos Fashion Pets Finance/business Real estate Shopping Music Crafting/DIY Arts/entertainment Technology Books Movies Religion Causes (such as cancer, autism, adoption, etc) Politics (local or national) Health/fitness Food Parenting Schools/education Humor Sports

12 Recruitment Look for those bloggers Post callouts on your site, social media and in print asking for specific types of bloggers. “Are you a stay-at-home dad who has lots of great ideas for keeping young ones busy? Blog for us!” “Fancy yourself an expert on fashion? Blog for us!”

13 Recruitment Look for those bloggers Vet the responses to pick the best of the bunch. Ask for writing samples Ask for blog post ideas Have they ever written a blog? – read it for quality and note frequency of posts Do they respond to you in a timely manner? Pick the best of the bunch and let the others off the hook or give them an opportunity to blog about something else.

14 Recruitment Look for those bloggers You can go one of two ways: Rather than flood your readers with a ton of these callouts, spread them out. Once you’ve picked your dad blogger and gotten him going, you can post a callout looking for the fashion blogger, etc. OR promote all of the bloggers you need at once and handle the (hopefully!) barrage of responses.

15 Recruitment All hands on deck Editors shouldn’t be the only ones looking for bloggers. Ask all staff from all departments to actively seek out new bloggers. Launch one initial push – give a deadline Follow it up later in the year with a less aggressive push to bolster ranks

16 Recruitment All hands on deck Tell your staff to consider who they deal with every day. Who is their go-to person for real estate stories? History? Education? Who are the local experts? Every staffer should submit at least one possible blogger to an assigned point person (e.g. digital editor, managing editor). If the editor agrees the person is good, the staffer will approach that person about possibly blogging.

17 Recruitment All hands on deck The staffer will be the initial contact with the potential blogger because they already have a relationship with the person. The staffer will ask the potential blogger if they’re interested, using an intro PDF that explains what would be expected of them and how to start the process. All materials will be emailed to you after the presentation and available at

18 Recruitment



21 All hands on deck If the person agrees, they can contact the designated editor who will get all the info they need to get the blog started (submit a blog form): Blogger name Email Blog name Blog description Bio Headshot List of blog post ideas

22 Recruitment All hands on deck The editor will then send the new blogger: a “congratulations note” a blogger contract a welcome packet

23 Recruitment Sample congratulations note:

24 Recruitment Sample welcome packet:

25 Recruitment Welcome packet The 3-page PDF includes: “Your First 20 Days” Step-by-step game plan to get started Blogging resources How to attract more readers How to find time to blog How to improve your writing Other blogs to read How to promote

26 Recruitment Welcome packet The 3-page PDF includes: Blog rules & expectations Posting frequency Accurate and attractive copy, headlines Terms of use Contract All community bloggers must sign a contract, which you keep on file.

27 Recruitment Blogger contract

28 Recruitment Other platforms If someone is already blogging, we can “ingest” their posts on to our sites. Make it clear that WE get the traffic But they get more readers Fill out a blog form, but indicate that this will be a blog feed.

29 Retention Why do bloggers leave? Their life gets too busy. They can’t keep up. They think they have to write more than they do. The blog is a burden. They don’t have very good traffic. This is discouraging. They never get feedback – via comments or from us. This is disappointing.

30 Retention Their life gets too busy. Sometimes there’s nothing we can do about that except thank them for their time, ask them to write a farewell post and remove them from the blog directory. But make sure they know: They only need to post two times a week. Posts should be short and to the point. They can delay a post to go up later, so do it the day they have time and delay it.

31 Retention They think they have to write more. Bloggers are often writers looking for an outlet. But a blog is not a novel. In general, online readers want shorter. They’re often consuming the blog on their phone, on the go. Remind your bloggers they don’t have to blabber on. Maybe they can kill two birds with one stone by breaking up a long post into two posts, one delayed for later in the week.

32 Retention They don’t have very good traffic. First, they need to know what their traffic is. You can set up a Google Analytics report to automatically email the blogger each month (ask your content team manager or digital editor if you don’t know how). You can compile the top 5 or 10 blog posts each month and email all your bloggers. This gives them context (compare to other bloggers) and encourages a little healthy competition (“Next month, I’m going to try to get the #1 most read post!”) By the way, do you have all your bloggers’ email addresses?

33 Retention They don’t have very good traffic. Don’t expect people to find a blog on the directory page. Although our new templates are helpful. The editor and the blogger should both be mindful of promoting the blog.

34 Retention They don’t have very good traffic. The blogger should: … give the editor a heads up when they have something timely, interesting, catchy. The editor can post a link on social media and can add a homepage taxonomy to that specific post. … add a link to their own social media accounts for all posts. (visual blogs should also be on Pinterest and Instagram) … include the blog URL in their email signature, in their social media profile/about pages … visit other blogs and comment, including a link to their own blog post on the same topic

35 Retention They don’t have very good traffic. The editor should: … post a link on social media and add a homepage taxonomy to good blog posts throughout the week. … promote bloggers in general by encouraging readers to check out the directory page and find a topic that interests them. … add to an article an internal link to relevant blog posts e.g. add the weather blogger’s post about an upcoming storm to your story about the storm

36 Retention They don’t have very good traffic. The editor should: Identify bloggers who have national appeal and recommend they be syndicated across the network (email Lisa Glowinski). Not only does this attract more traffic, but it rewards solid bloggers. It can be used as a carrot for the more motivated among your bloggers.

37 Retention They don’t have very good traffic. Help Google find the post Be sure the blogger is using SEO-friendly headlines, especially for topical posts (town, name, keyword) NOT SO GOOD: Managing Travel Mayhem The Getaway GOOD: Gregory Campbell is Bruins' tipster Beers from Boulevard, Victory and the Spencer abbey reviewed

38 Retention They never get feedback. To get the commenting ball rolling, especially for new bloggers, newsroom staff should comment on posts. Hopefully this will motivate others to join in the conversation.

39 Retention They never get feedback. Encourage your bloggers to post a call to action at the end of their post to get the conversation going.

40 Retention They never get feedback. Perhaps more importantly, bloggers would like feedback from us. When asked in the survey what the worst thing about blogging for us was, many bloggers cited lack of feedback. “There is not a lot of feedback so I never know if anyone reads my blog other than my mom. “ “Hard to tell if I am being read.” “I NEVER get any feedback.”

41 Retention They never get feedback. Your bloggers consider themselves part of the team and want to be treated as such. We need to stop thinking of our bloggers as Inner Circle burdens. You don’t have to hold their hand through every post, but occasional contact will be appreciated. Come up with a communication plan.

42 Retention They never get feedback. Communication ideas: Monthly emails per blogger, with an “attaboy” about one of their posts and that month’s blog stats One monthly email to all bloggers with the top 10 blogs of the month and some highlights that the group can learn from e.g. “Hey guys, not sure if you caught the food blogger’s latest post. She decided to poll her readers using PollDaddy. Here’s how.” Create a Google Group for your bloggers to have a forum to talk to each other.!creategroup

43 Retention Remember that welcome packet? Not every blogger was “onboarded” thoroughly. Share the new welcome packet with them, too. This is a good way to re-open the lines of communication. “Hi Sam! Thanks again for blogging with us for the past couple of years. I just wanted to share with you a new welcome packet we created in case anything in there is helpful to you. I also wanted to let you know I’m going to start sending out monthly emails sharing stats and tips. So keep an eye out for that.”

44 Frequency Twice a week Make sure your bloggers understand WHY we require this. By all accounts, frequency matters. Anything less than once a week, and you may as well not blog at all. Some believe you should blog daily. We know that is a lot to ask of volunteers. We think twice a week is a reasonable expectation to keep readers coming back.

45 Frequency Keep an eye on them At the end of the first month of each quarter, do a quick audit of your bloggers to be sure they’re posting twice a week. Contact them and remind them of the expectation and talk about ways they can hit that goal (shorter posts, delay the post).

46 Takeaways Reinvest yourself in making your community blog offerings a success. Recruit bloggers by seeking out specific topics and by asking your editorial staff to identify experts in the community. Provide a welcome packet to new and existing bloggers to help them get started. Keep the bloggers you have by offering them feedback – through communication and stats. Make sure your bloggers are posting at least twice a week.

47 More information If you have questions or suggestions, contact New England Regional Digital Editor Nicole Simmons. 508-626-3923 @Digital_Nicole Instagram: WickedLocalPix

48 Community Blogs 2.0 GateHouse Media News & Interactive

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