Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sit... Stay... Good Boy.

Forced to sleep on a twin bed at my parent's house for the holidays, I was able to convince my dog to sleep on a couch instead of on the bed with me. Ah, leg room.

We often talk about "training" our sources and readers/listeners/viewers in the news biz. It sounds like we want Fido to do a new trick, or at least be obediant when guests are visiting.

It can be difficult to train sources and readers. Like a dog, it requires patience and persistence. Again, like a dog, it pays off.
You know when you've got that feeling the dog may be getting the command or trick, but it's not quite where you want it to be. That's how I'm starting to feel. After more than a year and a half at this newspapers and I have confidence that some of my sources and readers are on the brink of being "trained."
Yesterday, the city manager called my cell phone at 10 p.m. to tell me about a boil order, thinking I may want to put it on the Web. I did. By 9 a.m. the next morning (less than 12 hours since the post) the story had nearly 150 hits.
Even just six months ago I don't think the city manager would have thought to call my cell phone to tell me something like that. And just six months ago, even if we had the boil order up promptly, I doubt we would have seen 150 hits - especially overnight like that.
It just goes to show what, like a dog, constant reinforcement can do. It goes beyond the teases to the Web in the print product. I tell people all the time that we had that on our Web site, or that we'll get that on the Web soon if it's urgent. As a weekly, the Web becomes a resource to make the newspaper a nearly daily product (just weekdays unless there's breaking news, of course).
You don't have to have a full list of stories everyday on the Web, just one update a day and telling people about it drives traffic over time.
Alright, time to end the blog, I think my dog needs to go outside... where did I put that leash?

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