Here is the news: the BBC website is very popular; so too is the Daily Telegraph, CNN and The Sun. Indeed, all of the news organisations have thriving websites. In fact, The Guardian “newspaper” website is one of the most popular video watching sites in the world. Their “newspaper” newsroom has TV studios in it so that reporters can go and produce a video clip for the website on the story they have produced for the printed newspaper. The Guardian is not alone – other “newspapers” also produce multimedia content for online consumption. The Guardian now gets more people watching its online videos than ever bought their newspaper.

BBC NewsOf course, many people reckoned that the opening up of the web would take control and power away from big media corporations. The notion was that we would all be free to report news, to write features and to afford the world greater communications transparency. And indeed, to some extent that has happened. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter – they have all allowed us to be our own “reporters” and to get information published without having to go through the media mogul gatekeepers.

However, new research shows that the truly successful news delivery sites online are those which are run by professional news organisations. The study found that within the local news sector, only the websites produced by professional newsrooms are really successful.

The key question here is: why? Why, with all the “user generated content” currently available is it that professional news organisations are winning the war for eyeballs?

The reason is simple – they treat online media as though it were a publishing project. And guess what? A website is a publishing project. The reason so many business websites fail to achieve the objectives of the owners is because they treat websites as a design project, not a publishing one.

Interestingly, I’m speaking today at a Social Media Conference where the panel discussion before lunch revealed that the most successful blogs are those where time is spent on headline writing, picture selection and other publishing tasks. In other words, bloggers that have editorial calendars, who spend more time on writing headlines than on the text and consider how their readers will react are the ones making money and gaining most traffic.

It all points to the fact that if you want your business website to succeed, you need to run it as though it were a publishing operation.

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