February 15, 2014

"All of the above" doesn't work, beyond oil and gas

We know it dosn't work in modern energy production. It still leans too much toward oil and gas, with all their attendant global warming and other environmental problems.

Silly, though, I'm not talking about President Obama's energy policy in this post.

I'm talking about how newspapers in the digital world continue to stretch themselves thinner with an "all of the above" strategy to try to market themselves. In addition, this is a strategy that undercuts other things, namely, the move toward paywalls.

Tweeting, Facebooking, or email blasting top news headlines, often with paywall-free links to the relevant stories, is what I'm talking about.

Especially at smaller newspapers, that process isn't fully automated. And, even to the degree it is, see "paywall-free links." Newspapers are still shutting the barn door, while ignoring their barn, like most, has a second door, one that they're holding wide open.

E-editions are another good case of this. What good does it do to have your e-edition of PDFs behind a paywall, if you're posting, paywall-free, links to your top half a dozen news stories a day?

That's why I did headscratching when I first heard about how strong Warren Buffett is on paywalls.

Really? Two of his properties in Texas, the Waco Tribune-Herald and the Bryan-College Station Eagle, do exactly what I mention above on PDF e-editions on paywall vs. free HTML stories. That's not being strong on paywalls, at all.

A good, short piece here agrees with me on PDF e-editions for other reasons. If you're on the Web, and not getting email attachments, who wants to read PDFs? HTML, or now, XHTML, folks. It's like community newspapers are perversely refusing to learn lessons from the daily paper world that are now half a decade old or more. 

That said, said author of that piece nowhere mentions paywalls. Since digital dimes risk being undercut by mobile nickels, you gotta do it. Regular paywall.

As for reaching out to people with Facebook, Twitter or email blasts?

On email blasts, if the public doesn't even know you have a Facebook page, that's a problem. Second, email blasts are becoming ever more the provenance of spammers (and politicians at this time of year). 

On Facebook? If it's a true social media tool, it should be for other things than posting headlines.

On Twitter? Especially with smaller community newspapers, there's few Twitter users.

Experimenting for new revenue streams is one thing. Doing something that's been out there for some time and that you already have an idea might be found annoying is different. Even if you only approach customers that you have gotten their approval from?

Plus, again, this isn't raising new revenue. On my current paper's website, like the Trib and Eagle, the HTML stories are free, free, free. Sending email blasts of headline links is just giving away more content for free.

No comments: