Your news is important. Please make it not boring.

25 Jan

Ah, the “News” section. The staple to so many traditional websites. Sure, there is valid information contained within. But does anyone read those excerpts anymore?

I’m postulating that the answer is “no,” or, at the very least, “not really.” Well, it’s at least safe to say that numbers are dwindling.

But, seriously. Across the board, website traffic is straying from these once sought-after pages, venturing instead through homepages and executive bios and landing in blogs when readily available. Where they’re definitely NOT staying is on those news pages.

Our RSS readers aren’t tuned into your corporate press releases. We’re scanning headlines of the latest blog entries as our sources for stable information — news, events, press, media, whatever — because, well, they’re way more fun to read.

Which brings me to my point. From an evolutionary standpoint, writing on the web (which started in the 90s mostly as scanned-in PDFs and long, newspaper-like columns with hardly any outbound links) demands today that we entertain. Even Consumer Reports online is taking on a more boisterous tone than its former, stiff self. Traditional offline businesses are taking heed and loosening their ties or trading pumps for slingbacks. And not losing any value.

Why? Because they’re just trading in the traditional for a blog that contains the information. Or they’re podcasting or creating a video on YouTube. Or they’re just cramming the nut graph into a call out that appears throughout the site. The bottom line is, they aren’t spending money paying PR people to create long informational pieces that media and other audiences aren’t taking the time to read. They’re figuratively punching people in the face with some important bit of info and hoping readers notice.

It’s been the trend for a couple years now. The challenge is to find a balance with the content; in essence, to reach a formal, informational tone that satisfies the higher-ups and stakeholders while reaching the people capable of influencing decisions.

Don’t be scared to let go of your traditional, stodgy news section. It’s time.

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One Response to “Your news is important. Please make it not boring.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Writing for the Web: About Us « Word Nerd - March 24, 2008

    […] itself as a company. Instead, it makes reader wade through press releases — something I argue no one really wants to do anymore — to find out what the company has been doing lately. So much for engaging readers. Why not […]

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