Case Study: Ladue News in St. Louis, Mo.
It is only because I am featured in a current article in the Ladue News that the publication’s use of its online presence caught my attention. I worked in PR in St. Louis for more than 12 years; I have worked with the staff at the Ladue News on behalf of clients and employers. They didn’t ask for it, but I’m providing some advice to help them maximize their use of their website and their presence in social media. The advice applies to any small newspapers or primarily print publications that have incorporated an online version.
1. Don’t simply use the print version of an article in the Web version of the same article. Use hyperlinks in the content and in the print version, supply the URLs. For the article about mom bloggers, I supplied several links for the reporter to use, and it was disappointing to see key blog posts referenced without a link to them for readers to easily follow.
2. If you’re mentioning a local business, provide the URL in print and link to the company’s website online. In the current article, my employer was mentioned only as a St. Louis-based PR firm — an interesting approach for a publication with a St. Louis readership. Leaving out the name Standing Partnership was disappointing, and a missed opportunity for the publication to continue to develop relationships with local PR firms and their clients. As a blogger, it’s also true that I write quite a bit for Where Do You Stand?, my firm’s corporate blog, but again there was no link to that blog supplied.
3. Reformat page links. The URL for the article is: http://www.laduenews.com/articles/2010/04/22/living/special_features/doc4bd0b4deae4b9669028191.txt – this is not an optimized link. As an example of a properly formatted link/URL, take a look at my buddy Jay Baer’s link: http://www.convinceandconvert.com/integrated-marketing-and-media/information-as-theater-the-power-of-humanized-description/ Jay (an expert in social media and public relations) does his the right way.
4. Make it easy for people to share articles. Currently the Ladue News has the option to e-mail an article to a contact. But since the publication has a presence on Twitter and Facebook, and so do many of their readers, it would be beneficial to offer a Share This option. With this tool, readers are encouraged to share what they like on social networks, exponentially increasing the reach of your content.
5. If you have a social network, respect it and use it. Now Ladue News is doing a pretty good job with their Facebook presence; it’s fairly new but has more than 600 “fans” or “people who like them” as is the current structure on the site. On Twitter however, the publication’s presence is weak. There are very few followers and LN is only following one user (as of this writing). It’s clear that no one’s managing the Twitter presence or responding to @ replies. This is something I hate to see in companies or publications using social media tools — an account that’s been set up, then left to languish and die. It’s like setting up an 800 number for customers, then never answering it or responding to voicemails. That’s just bad business.
Great stuff MJ. You would think, given how important online traffic is to most print publications now, that they’d have the basics figured out. It’s not that tough, is it?