Last week, Shayne noticed that his local paper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is promoting daily sports weblogs written by the newspaper’s columnists as part of their AJCSportsPlus.com premium subscription content service. What’s sad is that they don’t really understand how to promote a weblog.
Problem 1: A weblog is not a chat room
This screenshot is taken from the “Have a Voice” section of the premium service Flash promo. At first read, it appears as though subscribers will get to blog. Blog, when used as a verb, is the act of writing a weblog, not the act of posting comments to weblogs written by AJC sports columnists. If they want their audience to “talk all day long” - give them a forum or a chat room. A weblog’s primary value in this arena is to provide frequently updated news, information and related links to the audience. The ability to collect comments from the audience is important, but secondary. As more Big Media outlets ride the blogging wave, we’re likely to see more of these types of mistakes.
Problem 2: Weblogs consist of posts, not blogs
The AJCSportsPlus home page lists the latest news items, as well as the most recent weblog posts. The AJC confuses matters here by calling most recent posts, “lastest blogs.” It should be “lastest Falcons blog posts.”
Problem 3: Don’t bastardize an awful word
It’s weblog, web log or blog, but not web blog. They need to get the language consistent and correct. They use blog just about everywhere in their online and newspaper promos, why not here?
What’s interesting here: The AJC is bringing exclusivity to participation. As stated in the blog promos, “AJCSportsPlus blogs are all about giving you more. More exclusive sports news - from Georgia and the nation. More opinion from Journal-Constitution columnists. And best of all, a chance for you to talk back to our reporters and columnists simply by clicking a button.” Some may argue that participation should not be exclusive, but when you are trying to sell a premium service, value has to come from somewhere. The real question is whether the columnists and reporters will talk back. They make the promise (below), but it’s unclear if they are delivering.
Suggestion: If the AJC really wants to take their premium service to the next level, they should give each subscriber a free weblog and let them post away. At least it would match the promise made in much of their promotion.
Update 10.12.04: Shayne sent an email two days ago to AJCSportsPlus Customer Service asking: “What exactly do you mean by blogs? Do I get my own blog, or am I paying for access to read blogs by your writers?” They responded today with this gem of response:
By participating in ajcsportsPlus you will be communicating with sports fans from across the country who, like you, love Atlanta sports. The new ajcsportsPlus offers so much more. Interaction with our columnists through “blogging” and the exclusive home of our sports columnists. Readers of a blog can provide feedback on the blog topic. This feature gives readers the chance to respond to the AJC, or to others who have commented on a topic. Inappropriate comments should be reported. The AJC reserves the right to cancel subscriptions for bad behavior.
The AJC recently pulled all their sports editorial content behind their paid content firewall. The blog label is nothing more than an attempt to add some perceived value to thier offering. All-in-all, this is nothing more than lipstick on a pig.
jonathan, it’s hard for me to say if it’s lipstick on a pig, if i can’t even read the blogs. But their promotion of this “added value” is embarrassing.