Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington was on CNN last weekend where she outlined the key elements of HuffPo’s success. And while not every (or maybe even not any) other site can hope to become the traffic magnet that is Huffington Post, it seems to me her prescription is relevant for any local media company that aspires to truly serve the information interests of their audiences (Public Radio and News/Talk – I’m talking to you).
It is most certainly not simply about spreading our content – whatever it is – across platforms.
Arianna spells out four elements of the HuffPo formula:
Aggregation of content that matters from elsewhere (HuffPo’s commitment is to bring you “the best of the web”)
Blogging by a large fleet of independent voices
Commenting and participation from you and me, the consumers
Arianna acknowledges that HuffPo mixes the lowbrow and the highbrow. “That’s how people consume news,” she says, and I think she’s right. The same person who reads the Wall Street Journal in the morning may peruse Perez Hilton in the afternoon. That’s a useful point to keep in mind for News/Talk stations who think the news begins and ends with politics and the attention spans of potential consumers do likewise. It’s a useful point to keep in mind for Public stations who view their digital platforms as somehow beholden to the same qualitative constraints that drive their over-the-air ones, even though time is scarce on-air but space is infinite online.
So if you’re a local media company with an expectation for news and information, I know you’re repurposing your content online and I know you’re aggregating content from elsewhere. But what about your original reporting? What about blogs by independent (and local) voices? What about commenting and participation from your consumers?
Indeed, is your digital platform positioned simply as a digital ad for your station? Simply a distribution point for content and marketing material for your over-the-air brand?
Or is it designed to be the hub for local people interested in your filter, your perspectives, and their own?
The goal is not to replicate HuffPo and shrink into its shadow. But nor is it to simply repurpose your content and promote your brand.
The goal is to leverage your brand in a fresh way and delight and engage your tribe by allowing that tribe to play together in the sandbox of your brand.
Here’s the full interview with Arianna (note to CNN – Please enable my ability to clip and share the highlights I want, not the whole video (just like MSNBC does)):