Howard Owens has a nice thought piece (if only I had thoughts like this) about the difference between push and pull.
He came up with his Seven B’s of pull.
- Be relevant
- Be frequent
- Be complete
- Be diverse
- Be easy
- Be friendly
It’s not just your site. It’s your community’s site, too. Let them participate in it. Let them make friends with you and their neighbours.
- Be reliable
Don’t forget the traditional journalistic values of fairness, honesty, diligence and looking out for the interests of everybody in the community. One of the key findings of the Readership Institute is that people want to know their news source “looks out for my interests.” These things are a big part of your brand, and brand is a big part of pull.
I’ve reproduced the detail of his last two points because they contrast, or perhaps compliment, the thoughts of another media exec Frits van Exter, reported in Journalism.co.uk, speaking at the World Editors Forum.(video of his speech there as well)
It doesn’t start well for the web
There is a thing about interactivity; it actually means that you run an open sewer system. The readers, your audience, those who use your site are using it to throw all their garbage through your lines 24/7.
But later on he offers ways to keep the sewer clean.
Registration, there are several papers in Europe that use registration and you can decide yourself how high the barrier should be.
Moderation, it’s a matter of resources but you can decide what to accept on your site. Some will call you a censor but others will feel more at home. Think about the long-term strategy here. Who are you catering for? Do you want to give your audience a home on the site, do you want to interact with your audience or do you want to interact with everybody?
Communication, we’re in the communication business but it’s always a problem to communicate, inside our newsroom and with or audience.
Make clear what you ethics are, stick to them and be as transparent as possible about them. Put them up for debate. When you link, if you think it’s relevant to link to the hanging of Saddam, warn your audience in case they are not used to that type of graphic image.
Delegation is also a useful tool. Your audience can help you keep up standards, they can police your site and they can help you to set up a reputation system.
Are we making life easy and being friendly when we ask our readers to register and then wait for their views to be heard when we also want to make them responsible for the quality of what we do?
A difficult balance to strike.