30 April 2008

Tips To Avoid Online “Shots In The Dark”

Advice on how to approach some of online journalism’s latest tools is being provided by American Journalism Review.

The article Online Frontier suggests that newspapers should incorporate “must-do products” such as video, podcasting and microblogging platform Twitter.

But it stresses that a gung-ho approach may not be the most effective, and advocates considered planning instead.

So here are author Barb Palser’s four top tips for using new technologies:

* “Offer your customers what they want, not what you want to give them.”

Palser, who is director of digital media at McGraw-Hill Broadcasting, says past examples like TV news webcasts show that the tools you might want to work will not succeed if there is simply no demand for it.

* “Plan around the content, not the tools.”

According to Palser, it should be “what’s the best way to get this information out?” rather than “let’s find a reason to use Twitter”.

* “Practice healthy scepticism…”

This relates to “fabulous products” that rivals may be using and new tools as they come into view. Palser recommends test-driving new products first and finding out how others got on with them.

* “Always monitor the research and keep an open mind.”

Palser suggests that means of media consumption can change dramatically in a short space of time, so newspapers have to keep their eyes on the ball at all times.

She concludes that the newspapers which have the ability to meet user demands will be more successful online.

“The prize will go to those who know how to listen and react to their customers, not those who launch the most products the fastest.

“Anything we do in this space will be a gamble, but we needn’t take shots in the dark.”

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