Video: Google News Offers Tips, Best Practices for Editors, Publishers

This 15-minute video is totally worth your time if you’re a publisher, editor or Webmaster looking to optimize your news content for Google News. In it, Maile Ohye of Google talks about best practices and answers frequently asked questions about how Google News crawls, indexes and ranks news stories in Google News, an important (and controversial) hub of breaking news content and a significant driver of traffic to news sites.

MySpace Lays Off 30 Percent Amid Flat Membership

Flatline (Compete.com via Wired)

Flatline (Compete.com via Wired)

MySpace.com, snapped up by Rupert Murdoch a couple of years ago for half a billion dollars has seen growth flatten amid Facebook‘s soaring popularity and Twitter‘s recent takeoff. So what to do?

Pare down, get lean and get ready to fight. The ad-heavy site, said to be relatively lucrative while Facebook and Twitter continue to resist aggressive monetization, is laying off 30 percent of its workforce, saying the company grew too bloated.

The move comes after MySpace’s new executive team, including CEO and former Facebook-er Owen Van Natta, took over the former No. 1 social media destination about six weeks ago.

The chart above, from Compete.com, puts things in perspective. MySpace is stagnate. Wired is unsure it can make a comeback.

Meanwhile, Twitter growth shows signs of slowing. But — as Wired also points out — when your service is seen as integral to Middle Eastern affairs, you gotta be doing something right.

A Mind of Moms Wrap-Up with Natalie Ghidotti

mindmoms

More at Mindofmoms.com

As we told you earlier this week, Little Rock PR guru Natalie Ghidotti of Ghidotti Communications attended this week’s Mind of Moms summit in northwest Arkansas.

The one-day summit, held in Bentonville and attended by more than 150 people, including representatives from major corporations, aimed to connect businesses with moms who blog. These so-called “mommy bloggers” are an influential community of passionate writers and devoted followings. It’s not surprise businesses want to reach them.

Today, Ghidotti shares her impressions of the event, as well as some tips she picked up from some of the sessions. You can follow Ghidotti on Twitter at @Ghidotti.

By Natalie Ghidotti

So, I’m a mom, but not a blogger — yet. The recent Mind of Moms conference piqued my interest because:

1) I’m a mom, and I love helping clients better understand moms, and

2) The “mommy blogger”” truly intrigues me, and I want to know more.

My Questions

So what about these “mommy bloggers?” Do they blog in their pajamas with a baby on their hip? Do they dish on every bad experience they have with a product? Do they have readership beyond best friends? Are other moms, like myself, reading these blogs and choosing Colgate toothpaste because @momadvice or @dealseekingmom told her to?

I got all these answered and more at Tuesday’s one-day conference. The fact is, for consumer marketers, these “mommy bloggers” (a name some of them aren’t fond of) are an important group. They reach a coveted group of busy moms who make all the purchasing decisions in the home. Moms are the ones choosing which coffee to brew and which laundry detergent to use on that next load.

Mommy bloggers, such as @geekmommy and @katjapresnal, can spread your message faster than @Oprah and can be talking about brands before you ever get close to being on Oprah’s schedule.

Rules of Engagement

With that in mind, companies are on a quest to determine how to best engage these mom bloggers with their brands. As a former print journalist, I was surprised to find out that the rules of engagement with these bloggers is quite different than when reaching out to traditional journalists.

After the jump, a few things for companies to keep in mind when “pitching” mom bloggers on your brand.

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Arkansas.gov’s iPhone App for Tracking Simulus Spending

From Arkansas.gov

From Arkansas.gov

Okay iPhone app junkies, here’s a good one.

“The Arkansas.gov Recovery Project Search,” launched by the state of Arkansas, helps you track stimulus spending in the Natural State. It’s billed as “the first state government in the nation to develop and release an iPhone application with the ability to search projects funded with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funds.” Fun!

You search for spending by location (including projects “near you”), keyword and categories, including conservation, drug treatment, highways, efficiency, information and traffic.

The app serves up individual projects, the amount of money appropriated, when the project begins and how complete the project is. The app also lets you track that project, so you’ll know when changes occur.

For those intensely interested in how the state is spending its share of the stimulus money, this app is useful, geeky fun. You can find it in the iTunes app store by searching for “Arkansas.gov Recovery Project Search” or you can download it here.

More on the App

News release (via MarketWatch alerts)

Recovery.Arkansas.gov

More screenshots after the jump.

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Talking Twitter Tuesday on ‘Today’s THV This Morning’

All a Twitter

All a-Twitter

Tired of Twitter yet? Possibly! But the little microblogging service that could is still generating plenty of buzz — some of it not from bored news editors but people legitimately curious about the service and how it might help their business.

At about 6:20 6:40 a.m.-ish on Tuesday, I’ll give a quick primer on Twitter on “Today’s THV This Morning” and, time permitting, how some Arkansas businesses and other organizations are using the service (which we’ve touched on before on this blog and on the radio). Are you suffering from social media fatique and wondering whether Twitter is for you? Hopefully, we can help you answer that question, as well.

Meanwhile, remember you can follow me @LT and Arkansas Business @ArkBusiness. And be sure to sign up with the THV Morning Crew:

@MatthewGCarroll, producer

@BeccaBuerkle, producer

@AlysonCourtney, anchor

@CCrowson016, reporter/anchor

@todaysthv, news

Also

Corporate Blogs and Tweets Must Keep SEC in Mind – WSJ

Oprah and Ashton Will Destroy Twitter – PC Magazine

Numbers Can’t Begin to Describe Twitter’s Impact – Wired

Twitter me this: Wake up and get the Tweets, alderman says – Northwest Arkansas Times

Twitter marketing tips – DoshDosh

Social media: $3.1 billion industry in five years? – eBiz

ArkansasBusiness.com’s 2008 Most-viewed Stories

Arkansas Business’ new edition tomorrow is our annual double-issue look back at the year in business. Among other stories, the editors round up the best and worst of 2008 and name the year’s 10 most important stories.

As editor of ArkansasBusiness.com, I rounded up the stories readers deemed most important, to present this look at the top 10 most-viewed online articles. Below is a sneak peak at the list, linked to the original stories. Click here to see all 10.

1.)    John Glasgow Letter Shows Strained Relationship Between Dillard’s, CDI

2.)    KATV’s Anne Pressly Attacked in Home

3.)    FCC Gives Final Approval to Alltel-Verizon Merger

4.)    Who Pays $1 Million for a Home?

5.)    Dillard’s Store Closings May Not End Troubles

The top 10 list is based on the number of page views from Jan. 1 to Dec. 16, just before going to press on the 18th.

It’s always interesting to dig into Google Analytics and see what stories attract reader interest. This year’s list contained a mix of Web-only, big breaking news stories — a couple a little outside the bounds of what you might consider traditional “business” news — along with in-depth features and longer news stories generated for the weekly newspaper.

Of course, there’s the usual divide between what editors deem important and what ultimately draws readers, as you’ll see after checking out the editor’s top 10. Absent from the “popular” list: ANB Financial, a new Wal-Mart CEO and anything having to do with the University of Central Arkansas. But so goes the nature of “news” on the Web.

(I should add that UCA and related search terms are still among the top ways people find my personal blog, even though I’ve only occasionally written on the topic. Maybe I should expand the UCA beat.)

Finally, it’s worth noting that certain site sections, including our annually updated profiles of Arkansas’ “40 Under 40” and the relatively new “Power List” feature continued to be popular with readers.

Later this week, more from Arkansas Business’ year-end review, as well as a look back at 2008 on the Lance Turner blog.

More

Arkansas Business Publisher Jeff Hankins reviews the highs and lows of 2009

Arkansas Business’ year-end double issue hits the Web here tomorrow

Also

Obama tops the Associated Press’ Top 10 stories

7 Years Later: Looking Back on 9/11

The Democrat Gazette's extra edition

The Democrat Gazette

Today is the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which brought down the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, slammed an airplane into the side of the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and crashed another airplane into field in Pennsylvania.

Those events killed about 3,000 people and led directly to the two wars the United States is still fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, which have brought thousands more deaths.

There will be all manner of observances today. Barack Obama and John McCain will be in New York City at Ground Zero, and President Bush will go to the Pentagon to dedicate the latest memorial to those killed in the attacks.

It goes without saying that the terrorist attacks had an immeasurable effect on all aspects of our politics and culture. As a journalist, I’m particularly interested on how it affected the news business. You’ll remember that in the summer leading up to the attacks, the mainstream media was largely focus on more sensational fare — those shark attacks off the east coast, the disappearance of Chandra Levy — and the attacks, at least for a while, snapped press coverage back to more important matters.

It also had a profound effect on online news. Sept. 11, 2001 is widely regarded as the day online news came of age, and the Web “grew up,” allowing people to get up-to-the-second breaking news and to connect with others around the world. This was the first time many major online news operations had to put up special, lightweight versions of their pages, as traffic overwhelmed them.

Today, many of those online, breaking news pages on the attacks are archived on the Web in places like this and this.

At Google, which then was slowly on its way to becoming the search giant it is now, Sept. 11, 2001 planted the seed that would eventually become Google News. Krishna Bharat, a 31-year-old software engineer for the company, began to conceive of the now-popular online news aggregator as he, like millions of others, searched the Web furiously that day for any news he could find. A solution to searches like that and others, Google News, launched in beta in April 2002.

CNN, on 9-11

CNN, on 9-11

ArkansasBusiness.com wasn’t even two years old yet when Sept. 11 dawned in Arkansas. I remember we threw ourselves into online coverage, and there was lots to cover. Unfortunately, we don’t have screenshots of the site from that day, nor does the Internet Archive, But the stories remain.

With the FAA grounding planes, 24 jets were stuck at Little Rock’s Adams Field, leaving about 1,000 people to fill local hotels, and workers emptied the city’s tallest buildings, fearing more attacks. In Jacksonville, the Little Rock Air Force Base was put on its highest security level. Two malls closed, the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University canceled games and the Matchbox Twenty show at Alltel Arena was canceled.

Wal-Mart began offering aid, and urged its employees to be friendlier during those trying times.

Gov. Mike Huckabee addressed the state, offered help and warned against any price gouging, as gasoline prices at some stores soared to illogical heights. Meanwhile, former White House Chief of Staff Mack McLarty gave ArkansasBusiness.com an inside glimpse at what might be happening in the Bush White House, and compared the attack to Pearl Habor.

And we reported that a group from Arkansas led by investment adviser Mary Ann Greenwood, had been in the World Trade Center that morning, but fled in time to see the second plant hit. They were safe.

That next week, everyone began trying to put it all in perspective. ArkansasBusiness.com sought comment from Little Rock financier Warren Stephens as the stock market, closed since the previous Tuesday, re-opened.

Up the street from us, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette was preparing an special “extra” edition, which many other newspapers around the country compiled that day. You can see a PDF of the full extra edition here, and other 9/11 front pages are compiled here and here. (A Library of Congress archive of other Web pages from 9/11 is available here.)

(Note: Another verison of this post appears on my “Ladder” blog at ArkansasBusiness.com.)