Monthly Archives: April 2014

All About SEO on News

We get a lot of questions about SEO here on, and no wonder — you work hard on your site and want to get the word out! SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO recommendations are intended to help your site rank higher and more accurately in search engines, like Google. Say you write a blog about sailboats. When someone Googles “sailboats,” how many pages of results do they have to scroll through before they see a link to your blog? The goal behind having good SEO is to increase your website’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ranking.

many sailboats On the busy internet, it can be tough to make your “sailboat” stand out from all the others.

Ideally, you want your link to be on the first page of results. The best ways to accomplish this are:

  • consistently publish useful, original posts about sailboats; and
  • promote your blog in intelligent ways to people…

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How Your Institution Can Create Awesome Viral Content

There are some creative examples here of info graphics, videos, and more.


Cameron Pegg (@ghostwhowrites) is executive officer for the deputy vice chancellor (engagement) at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.

dont plan to be viral badge

What would happen if you suggested that your institution’s homepage be taken over with kittens or an animated squirrel?

You wouldn’t get far. Or would you?

Oberlin College in Ohio devised a daring homepage heist in time for April Fools Day in 2012—it was so successful in driving traffic and social media interaction that they upped the ante last year (with added kitten cuteness).

Oberlin’s antics display a rare understanding of how our constituents behave online and what we can do to make them click.

In the February edition of CURRENTS, I explore how institutions can do a better job of developing and distributing “share worthy” content (see full article).

The Science of Sharing

Aim to create stronger emotional communion in the content you share Aim to create stronger emotional communion in the content you share

In 2009, University…

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How to Think Like a Brand Journalist

Don’t let your blog bully you. Telling your organization’s story is easy, if you define your objective and map how to get there. Shed your frustration. Start with some basic questions that will get you out of the starting gate every time.

Who is your audience? The first question every writer must ask themselves is “Who am I writing this for?” It might be visitors to your website: potential customers, returning clients, marketers, other businesses, journalists. It might be a combination of these but you should have a primary audience in mind for every piece you publish. Write content for each of your audiences. They’ll thank you for it.

What are the core products or services you provide and how are they improving your client’s lives? What do you know about your customers’ experience with your organization? Ask yourself, What do I do best? What do I do better than my competition?

  • Do you sell the world’s best back scratcher? One that has helped your long-suffering clients avoid awkward moments at work rubbing up against the nearest coatrack?
  • Or maybe it’s your guaranteed 15-minute customer service response to questions that come in day and night by phone, email, and Facebook comments about which back scratcher is right for them.

No organization is good at everything. Again, choose what sets you apart. That’s fertile ground for cultivating brand journalism stories.


Once you know your audience and the topic, answer the journalism 101 questions: who, where, what, why, when, and how.

  1. Who is the story about? The best stories are about people, not organizations.
  2. Where did the story take place?
  3. What is the story about?
  4. Why are you telling this story (What’s your goal: clicks, shares, purchases?) Why should your readers read this story? What do they get out of it?
  5. When did this story take place?
  6. How did the subject of your story accomplish something (hopefully using your product or service)?

Incorporate basic story elements, an introduction, the storyline development, the conflict, and a resolution. In addition to people, the best stories are about conflict or solving a problem. Remember, you want your readers to cheer for the subject of your story so tap into emotion.

Readability & truth-telling

Two traits that set brand journalists apart are their commitment to readability and truth-telling They ruthlessly cut out jargon, qualifiers, and industry acronyms. If you’re grandmother can’t understand what you’ve written, then recycle that page and toss it in the round file.

Brand journalists are also committed to truth telling. (That’s not “truthiness,” for you Colbert fans). What’s that mean? When someone in your organization tells you they’ve created a new app that scratches backs virtually, be skeptical. Ask hard questions. Find third-party support. Download the app and test it.

Yes, it’s marketing. But customers and the public will launch a digital blitzkrieg of complaints and bad reviews against your organization, if they feel jilted or lied to. All of the trust you’ve built around your organization’s work, products, or services will disappear. In fact, that’s a story — one a journalist might like to write: “Back scratcher maker ‘Itch’ defends itself after allegations that app scratcher scarred customers.”

Your product is an extension of your customers

Once you’re churning out branded stories, pause to think creatively. Imagine in product or service in all its roles. Back scratchers sunning themselves on vacation beach with their families around the world—Jealous much? Decoratively knitted back scratcher grips like tiny socks—The epitome of style. Pitching in to reach the spoon lodged under the refrigerator—Daring rescue!

What about you? Send me a tweet or email a link about how brand journalism helped you?

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

When data journalism meets hyper-local — Oakland Local launches Police Beat

Wow, Susan et al have outdone themselves. Way to go @OaklandLocal!


Most of the attention that gets paid to the growing field of “data journalism” gets focused on ambitious, national-level sites like Ezra Klein’s Vox or Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight — but data exists in all kinds of places, and can be used in different ways. One example of an interesting attempt to use public data to highlight an issue of social importance is Oakland Police Beat, a new project created by the non-profit news outlet Oakland Local in California.

In a nutshell, Oakland Police Beat uses publicly-available statistics and records from court filings to create a database of violence and alleged impropriety involving the police department in the city, a growing metropolis on the east side of the San Francisco bay that has seen a number of high-profile cases in which critics say police violated the civil rights of Oakland citizens.

Abraham Hyatt, a former managing editor at ReadWrite and…

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