Monthly Archives: May 2011

Steve Buttry joins Journal Register Company

Steve Buttry, my former boss/mentor at TBD, has been kind enough to write send-offs to each of our community engagement team members as we found jobs elsewhere. Only fair I should return the favor as he begins his new job at the very-lucky Journal Register Company.

Steve always said his success was based on hiring smart people and getting out of their way, but the truth is it wasn’t that simple. He had a twofold excellence to his management: He gave us the freedom to march ahead with our ideas without having to wait for his approval, but his ideas were so valuable you’d be robbing yourself if you didn’t ask for his opinion. He consistently elevated my ideas while offering a steady hand of reason. It created the perfect environment for experimentation.

When I interviewed for my job, I asked him what would happen when I tried something crazy and failed. I wish I could remember the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of: “Well, we’ll probably make fun of you for it. ‘Remember when Dan did that thing? That was awful.’ And then when we’re done laughing about it, you’ll get to work on your next crazy idea.”

He trusted in action, not just words. Early on in our time there, my colleague Lisa Rowan had a mid-afternoon meeting in College Park, near where she lived. As any good employee would, she asked Steve if she could bring her laptop and simply work from home the rest of the day. He told her and the rest of us at a meeting: Next time, don’t bother asking. I trust that you know what works best and you’ll get your work done.

Those are the two stories I’d tell to all of my friends to make them jealous of my new job, and it always worked. I was lucky to work for him, and I know JRC is going to love him.

Help determine Philly.com’s linking/aggregation strategy

(To those who don’t know me, I’m a community-builder at Philly.com. I’ve been here for about a month and I’m pleased to meet you. Your feedback on this issue will impact not just Philly.com, but really the entire publishing scene in the region. I could really, really use your thoughts on what follows, and I swear to you I am listening.)

It’s been widely reported that Greg Osberg, the new-ish CEO of Philadelphia Media Networks, wants Philly.com to be more of a “portal.” Most of us can agree Philly.com needs to use its traffic muscle to promote other great work happening outside the Inquirer and Daily News, interspersing off-site links with our headlines right from our home page and section fronts. What we have to do now is figure out how it’s going to work.

We are soon going to be courting a diverse set of partners from across the region, from neighborhood blogs with a few dozen readers to the major broadcast news stations. Seeing as Philly.com is the biggest news site in the region, this has the potential to direct massive amounts of traffic to these sites.

With that in mind, I need your help. Right now, we are considering three possibilities for how we will link:

  • Landing page: Every partner in our network will be given its own branded landing page on Philly.com (here’s an example from New Jersey Spotlight). When a partner has a story worth extra attention, links from the Philly.com homepage or a section front will take readers to this landing page. It will have a partial feed RSS with links to the partner to read the full story, plus the partner’s own banner and site description.  There are ads on this page sold by Philly.com staff.
  • Direct link: When an outside site has a story worth extra attention, links from the Philly.com homepage or a section front will take readers directly to the site.
  • Branded bar: When you click on an external link, from a partner or non-partner, you’ll be taken directly to the site and your browser will display a Philly.com-branded bar at the top (think StumbleUpon). It could include a variety of content, including Philly.com account info, related Philly.com stories, related partner stories, an advertisement, a site description, etc. It would be easily hidden. Both Philly.com and the outside site would register page views.

And here are the three things we have to keep in mind:

  • I am but one employee of Philly.com, and these are just some ideas. You should not assume any of these ideas will be implemented.
  • Any solution must be enticing to the maximum amount of potential partners. It must benefit the partners as much, and very likely more, than Philly.com.
  • Any solution must, in the big picture, lead to greater revenue for Philly.com.

If you’re in favor of the landing page, I challenge you to address the possibility that fewer partners, especially competitive news sources, would enter an agreement.

If you’re in favor of a branded bar, I challenge you to address how we can make it non-invasive and valuable for both our readers and partners.

If you’re in favor of direct links, I challenge you to address how Philly.com can make up the revenue we could gain through the other two options.

Folks, I promise you: Your feedback and ideas here will be huge. I need to know how partners would respond to these options, what other ideas you have, and what balance we can offer between these varied approaches. I really do want to come up with a plan that’s beneficial for everyone.