January 20th, 2009
An often-overlooked way to get quality user-contributed material on your site is to invite readers to blog about specific events on your news site using your software. It’s an excellent way to bring a new voice to your site, and perhaps even cover an event you would not have been able to attend otherwise. At the Statesman, we’ve had reader bloggers, through our Pluck reader blogger software, post from political conventions, a climate change summit in Bali and at Netroots Nation. During the political convention, one of our veteran reporters told me the reader blogger had a fresh point-of-view that made for some good coverage. High praise, indeed.
1. Identify your blogger. Reporters can usually identify, and even contact, some likely candidates. Generally, seek out someone who has a stake in the event. For example, you could find someone who is going to the South by Southwest Festival. Contact this person and explain that you’d like to have him or her blog and explain in detail what that will entail. If you can pay the blogger, great. Often, though, people will blog for free for the thrill of getting the online play. It’s OK if the person has never blogged before – as long as he or she is interesting and willing to share their thoughts, it will be good.
2. Call the person on the phone after he or she has agreed to go over what you expect, what might be fun, how often you think the person should post, etc. It helps sometimes to offer up some blog topic ideas. Be sure to listen to his or her concerns, and address them if possible.
3. Set up the blog for your reader blogger ahead of the event. If your blogger is a true novice, have him or her send in a picture and set it up, along with a nice header and “about” page.
4. Send your blogger detailed instructions on how to access the blog, how to post links, photos and videos, etc.
5. Once your blogger starts posting, give that thing some great play. If you did find a SXSW blogger, put the updates as a link side-by-side with your other festival coverage. Be sure to clearly label the material as a reader blog.
6. When the event is over, call your blogger and share page view statistics and what you enjoyed about the work. Be sure to say “thank you.”
Of course, you could find bloggers who are already posting on their own software and just link to them. You should do that when you find bloggers who are providing relevant information to your readers. What’s good about hosting someone new on your own site, though, is you bring people into the process who wouldn’t otherwise be involved. You can find some great new voices — people who are likely to want to stay involved.
Entry Filed under: New Tricks