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Posts Tagged ‘Susan Steade’

Search-engine optimization sometimes gets a bad rap from journalists (more on that later). But I always thought a headline’s job was to attract eyeballs, to get someone to read the story.

That’s the job of a digital headline, just like it was when I wrote print headlines as a copy editor for the Des Moines Register 35 years ago.

What’s changed is how people find our headlines. Instead of having the newspaper delivered to their door, and browsing pages for a headline or photo that catches their eye, many people find our stories in answer to the questions they ask search engines. Just as I tried my best to catch the browsing reader’s eyes, now I try to catch the search engine’s eye.

But it’s a two-step process: I need some keywords (utilitarian and sometimes dull) so the search engine will find my story and I need an enticing headline, so people will click on it (getting onto the first page of search results only gets me the chance to compete with nine other headlines for your click).

Susan Steade has a great metaphor for the SEO headline: Business up front, party in the back. In other words, start with some keywords, so the search engine will find your headline, then have some fun, so people will click on your headline rather than the others the search engine presents. (more…)

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This post continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.

Earlier this month I finished a chore that was a lot of work and worth every minute: Planning and emceeing a program to recognize the best work of 2012 by Digital First Media journalists.

Kudos to CEO John Paton and Editor in Chief Jim Brady for spending the money to give cash prizes and plaques to the DFMie winners and for bringing them from across the country to Denver for the awards program.

If you’re a local DFM editor (or an editor in another company), you may not have the money to do an awards program at the newsroom level, but at least you won’t have travel costs. And you should try to put a local recognition program into your budget. All the DFM senior publishers were at the DFMies and commented on what a great program it was. Maybe they’ll fight to get some local recognition in your budget. But they won’t do that unless you ask. One of my rules of journalism and life is “never say no for someone else.” So don’t say no for your publisher. Ask for a recognition program for your newsroom.

And if the publisher says no, recognize excellence in a way that’s cheap or free.

We do the DFMies monthly and annually to recognize the best work companywide with cash awards. While the cash is important, and adds meaning to the recognition, I believe the recognition is more important than the cash. If you can’t get cash for the awards, get the newsroom involved in brainstorming another meaningful way to recognize excellence: Maybe a traveling trophy (it could be serious or silly) that sits on the winner’s desk for a month or a quarter until the next winner is chosen. Maybe lunch with the editor. Maybe a paid day off. (more…)

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