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Newsmedia companies in primary position to capitalise on strength of communities

24 January 2011 · by Richard Hall

Newsmedia organisations now realise the need for community.

Commentators have suggested that it was a WikiLeak that brought demonstrators to the streets of Tunisia last week. Those demonstrations have driven out the President and brought about a new government.

It goes to show what a community can do, when working together.

The organisations that are strong — be they a political party, a church, a special interest club, a manufacturer (e.g. Apple), a print publication or a Web site — are those that have developed a strong sense of community, a loyal membership. Customers are more than just customers. They are fans, and therefore have a sense of community. Of sharing, working, and being together.

Newsmedia organisations now realise the need for community. Local news, with photos of the people and places you know, brings a sense of “togetherness” and loyalty. Special interest and hyper-local Web sites encourage online community.

This is social media. Thriving communities of people who share a common interest in someone or something. Facebook and Twitter enjoy a community larger — and, please note, a much larger value — than any one newspaper, even though many newspapers have been in business for more than 100 years. For many they create a sense of keeping in touch, of belonging.

Elvis Presley, who died 35 years ago but still enjoys a massive following today, proved that he understood the need for community — for people to feel a sense of belonging — when he said, “I figure all any kid needs is hope and the feeling he or she belongs. If I could do or say anything that would give some kid that feeling, I would believe I had contributed something to the world.”

Kids young and old belong to the many Elvis fan clubs around the world today, and so, his sense of loyal community lives on and shows no sign of diminishing. Indeed, the Internet has enabled it to strengthen.

So how does any of this help a newspaper publisher? Communities are targeted audiences made up of people who are motivated to opt-in and identify themselves. To join a fan club you have to sign up. People join because they want to. They want to “belong.” Publishers have a trusted brand and natural geographic advantage for hosting communities. We need to build on these strengths to create stronger communities, and stronger communities will help you to new generate revenues. If you don't believe me, ask Elvis Presley Enterprises!


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