It was inevitable but nevertheless, it should be marked. About three years ago use of the Internet surpassed readership of all news magazines. Now it has passed newspapers in terms of amount of time spent. According to this article in Editor and Publisher “Americans spend an average of 4 1/2 hours a day watching TV, far more time than they spend on any other medium. Next come the radio and the Internet. Reading newspapers is fourth, passed this year by Internet use.”
“On the bottomless Web, there’s always room for more detail, more depth.”
This is an important message for crisis communicators because so often I see the minimalist thinking more appropriate for the old media world. Hey, you’re in a crisis. Give them the minimum. The media’s going to stay with the headlines anyway. And the more you put out there, the more they may write or more questions they may ask
The truth is, usually when you are putting content on a website in a crisis you are speaking to the few and the highly interested. Family members. Neighbors. Investors. Senior executives. Activists. They are reading what you write because they are interested for some reason in what is going on. And they want details, and lots of them. They are not and never will be satisfied with the simple headlines and the old pyramid style of news reporting. That was writing in the age of newsprint rationing. Bits and bytes are all but free.
This point is really expanded on in this article about the new kind of news sites that Curley is selling. Highly interactive, of course. Rich in detail. But, you might ask, who reads such details. Look what happened in Kansas:
“And kusports.com, one of Curley’s better-known projects, covered the University of Kansas Jayhawks teams in ways the Lawrence Journal-World couldn’t. In addition to live play-by-play, it featured an animated playbook of the basketball team’s most effective plays, and a writer who previewed coming matchups by simulating them on a computer game and covering them like real games. The result? Three years after Curley took over, monthly page views soared from around 500,000 to a peak of around 13 million. Not bad for a town with 82,000 residents. “
The point is this: when someone is interested enough to spend time on your site, they want details. Get out of the old media world thinking, and give them what they want.