The New York Times Innovation Report

This week I’ve been reading quite a few reports and comments on the New York Times internal report on digital innovation.

The 96 page report was given to top executives at the paper last month and looks at how the paper can improve its digital strategy and keep up with its main competitors when it comes to digital publishing.

I haven’t read all of the report yet and so far I’ve only read the key summaries of the report’s findings.

You don’t have to be a journalist to find the report interesting but I do think it’s useful to anyone involved in content publishing and marketing.

The biggest talking point I can see it that the report doesn’t paint a pleasant picture on the papers current digital strategy. This is surprising, as The New York Times brand is world renowned within journalism.

The reality seems to be that even a publishing giant like the New York Times has struggled to adapt in some areas to the ever changing digital landscape.

If you haven’t had the chance to view the report, I’ve embeded a copy below for you to have a look at. I thought I’d list some of the key themes that have emerged from the report which have caught my attention.

Your home page is no longer the key

Only a third of readers are reading the New York Times home page. I was surprised by this statistic. We automatically assume the home page is the most important page on any website.

It made me think that readers can arrive at your site at different pages and increasingly this is due to more social sharing of content, whether it’s a retweet, or a facebook like people won’t automatically go to a home page anymore.

You have to find your audience

Many of use with our own blogs and company websites can only dream of having the same level of influence and brand recognition of the New York Times.

The report highlights the fact that many journalists at the Times have an attitude that their content will speak for itself. It’s the New York Times, people will naturally find this content won’t they?

This attitude is so wrong now. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you want people to read your content you have to promote it aggressively. Your have to amplify your content!

You can’t have the confidence or even arrogance to assume that people will come. To reach more readers you now have to start thinking of a content promotion strategy.

Have a best practice checklist before posting content

I admit this isn’t something I normally think of when I’m writing for my website and blog, but it seems so obvious.

I always have an idea of what I want to write and why I want to write it but I can see the benefits of having a checklist. Apparently at the Huffington Post bloggers cannot publish a post unless it has a search headline, tags, images, a tweet and a Facebook post pre-written.

The length and depth of any check list may depend on how many people are creating content for your site and also the individuals themselves involved but it is useful to a have a list of the key things that all your content should have before you hit the publish button.

Don’t forget your old content

The Times has around 14.7 million articles in its archives stretching back to 1851. It’s report highlighted that it needs to improve its ways of reusing this content.

It’s easy to allow great content to be buried away in the depths of your website but it can still be useful or relevant if you can find good reasons to use it again.

Once you start building up a back catalogue of content it can become an archive or library for readers but again you have to point them in the right direction and remind them of the some of the older content you have.