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February 7, 2007

TNS Needs Your Input -- Brainstorm With Us

Last year, we promised big changes at The NewStandard, and we delivered with lots of new features we hope make our site more useful to you. Now that we’ve revitalized our site, our next goal is to reach out to as many people as possible and make them regular readers and supporters.

We have another make-or-break membership drive coming up in April, and our biggest challenge is figuring out how to attract more readers to TNS and how to convince readers to donate once they become regulars.

From your letters and survey responses, we’ve learned that TNS readers have a wide range of interests, experiences and expertise. That’s why we need your help.

We’re inviting you to join a readership-wide brainstorm to come up with fresh ways to promote and fundraise for TNS.

We need everyone to contribute what they can. Maybe you’re a marketing professional with loads of wisdom to impart. Or maybe you’re a regular reader who can spot a strategy we’ve been missing to convince you to start donating. Maybe you remember how you first heard of The NewStandard and can help us find similar avenues to bring others into our fold the same way.

No suggestion is too small or too outlandish. So please post advice (or questions you have before you can give your advice) here, or if you prefer to tell us your thoughts privately, you can send email to collective791@peoplesnetworks.net.

Comments...

m1khaela: Get help from the big lefty blogs?

I think one thing that would help bring up TNS's readership is getting more of the big lefty bloggers to read, subscribe and link to your content. Commentary blogs are nothing without hard news outlets to provide material for commentary, and your hard reporting and daily digests are invaluable.

I'm not sure what other publicity tips I can suggest--if I was a better publicist, my cartoons would appear in a lot more newspapers!

justin_park: input

Agreed. Despite being one the few grassroots news orgs that present hard news instead of just commenting on today's headlines, TNS doesn't seem to get the links. A few more appearances in prominent blogs, progressive news aggregators a la CommonDreams and you should start to see greater readership. Perhaps even just a friendly "here's who we are" e-mail to some of the more popular bloggers to get on their blogrolls and on their radar. Getting some of those lefty masses onto the site to read even one highly linked article should result in more regular readers once they see the breadth of original content available. Some guerilla tactics might include posting links to related content from TNS in the comments of prominent blog posting on the same topic. Perhaps you already do this informally. Dare I speak the A-word, advertising? My two cents! I'll be thinking of more ideas...Best to TNS crew. Justin

abie: Dedicated readers --> Free advertising

It might be akward for TNS to engage in massive publicity campaign, not to mention costly. But this is something that fans and dedicated readers could take on. We can spread the word by reposting a story that interested you to a blog, indymedia, etc. Or sharing them with friends and family.

Benjamin Melançon: How I found the NewStandard

The NewStandard is one of the few important places on the Internet for which I actually remember our first meeting.

I was researching Guantanamo, and followed a Google News alert for Guantanamo to TNS. The article was a news brief and not useful to me. Something about the site, more than that particular article I think, told me there was something special about this news source.

I looked around and bookmarked it, and remember having trouble getting the news.net part of the domain name to find my way back (finding the bookmark would never have happened!).

I was, and remain, angry that no one mentioned TNS on any of the media reform, media education, activist, and other lists I was on and groups I was involved in. This was in 2004.

The lessons for today? The many external links may be making TNS look too much like other news sources or aggregators. "Ad-free" might be a better stock line than "commercial-free," which is used by corporate-underwriting-filled public radio and even commercial soft rock stations when they start twelve songs in a row.

I think all of us readers can introduce The NewStandard to blogs we read regularly, or hardly at all. People doing this independently can be more effective than TNS self-promotion, to say nothing of their limited time.

My other pet promotion would be a stickering/chalking/flyering campaign, which we readers could also do independently, though I've long urged TNS to provide an alternate URL that could actually fit on a sticker. Oh, and I think they need to include /any/ domain name in the masthead or site design, to help people remember it.

Oh, and we can buy people (relatives, under-stimulated coworkers) gift subscriptions. Knowing that you're spending money on them makes people more likely to read.

Rama Schneider: Just my little bit ...

First: I think The New Standard does a bang up job. The two things I appreciate most are your original reporting and weekly audio roundup.

With that said, I will do my part to help spread the word. This is a news outlet worth supporting, and you folks have shown a dedication to professionalism that includes customer support.

I saw a post above that mentioned pursuing bloggers .. I agree .. blog links will get you traffic .. work that angle. I make use of your RSS feeds on my own site ... I'm not the sole decision maker, but I believe hiliting you folks for a while would be in order.

In closing don't give up. You folks are good at what you do. That is, of course, no guarantee of success, but it certainly helps. Remember - you are running a business!

snootchel:

Do you have or have you considered a myspace and/or friendster account? You could find people who'd be interested and it would only cost your time.

James Kawakami: Need Publicity

Because there is already too much to read on ZNet, you need to get readers who normally do not read ZNet. See if you can post a blog on www.huffingtonpost.com or some other popular site.

Jim

Brian Dominick: Keepig this going...

Okay, one of the major themes I'm sensing here is that we should be getting lots of links from other sites. That sure is something we've long sought after, but apparently because we're not either loud-mouthed blow-hards or corporate suits, we can't get any attention from the dissident press and public-interest sites. Beyond those assumptions, it's really quite a mystery to us, but even sites we KNOW are aware of our existence refuse to link to us or even take our phone calls or respond to our email. We've never been able to really figure out why this is, but the list of examples is enormous. I'd love to get some insight on that.

m1khaela: Getting Links

I really don't think it's not about being corporate suits or loudmouths. It's just extremely difficult to get attention and respect from the big blogs, considering how much information there is out there on the internet. It's really, really hard for any outlet, no matter how high-quality, to get noticed. I think it requires some serious outreach and community building.

If you have prominent members and supporters, get blurbs and quotes from them and ask them to contact their networks and friends. Name recognition is huge--if you can get quotes from big lefties, that helps a lot.

When you do a great story that relates to the topic of a specialized blog (such as a feminist blog or a blog about immigration issues), email them the piece and ask if they'll link to it.

And then there's plain old-fashioned in-person networking and word of mouth. Attend lefty/progressive conferences and parties and events and hand out fliers and info, or send someone to conferences like the WAM (Women and the Media) convention, which are always full of bloggers and journalists who, if they are impressed, will spread the word.

And try thinking like a publicist and get some books on publicity... there are a lot of good ones out there with very clever ideas that don't cost much at all. Maybe have some kind of event or contest or something very newsworthy that will get you free publicity.

Regardless, this stuff is all hard, and it's easy to get locked out of progressive circles or offend people. I actually emailed a large list I was on about your attempts to get more notice and got some reaction from people who said they stopped reading TNS when they disagreed with your coverage of a particular issue (Terri Schiavo, I think). But I don't think you should let that discourage or anger you--you just have to be persistent and get the word out, and do as much positive publicity as you can.

abie: I just remembered

I just remembered how I found out about TNS. It was from a ZNet article about how there was this large newspaper using parecon as its economic system. Since that was a year ago, you could try to interest them, or others, in another feature like that.

DesertRain: How i found out

I also first found out about TNS from Znet. Perhaps getting involved with organizations with similar interests and promoting each other could help: ODE magazine - a magazine for "intelligent optimists" zaadz.com - myspace for inspired, compassionate people who want to change the world Independent Media Center

Benjamin Melançon: I'm on Zaadz

DesertRain: I'm on Zaadz, so if you want to tag team promoting TNS let's do it (and anyone else out there). My Zaadz username is just Benjamin I think but you can also reach me here.


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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.