Monthly Archives: August 2007

What does a Community Manager do exactly?

Many of the web editors I know are looking to broaden their experience in community management. Why? Well, now that content managment is about editing (or rather ‘filtering’) user submitted content just as much as it’s about editing a ‘broadcast / top down’ product, editors want to future proof their skill set.

So I ask you: what are the skill sets needed for a community manager? What skills can a web editor learn to extend their experience in this area?

A job ad in NMA on April 2007 detailed the following, albeit brief, requirements:

As a brand new website for interior design trends and hence has enormous scope
for creativity. As Community Manager your role will be to lead incentives to
increase membership sign-ups across the website. You will manage email alerts
and generate quality content, that stimulate quality activity and grow traffic
across the site. Excellent copy writing skills essential.

“Lead incentives to increase memberships sign-ups”, “generate quality content” and “grow traffic”? Aren’t these tasks expected of a normal web editor? With this in mind, is there a distinguishable difference between the traditional web editor and the community manager? Do tell me.

In the meantime, here’s a good post on the evolving role of the community manager on

Ditch your SEO agency: update your content

It’s a mantra we always repeat to clients – content is pretty much key when it comes to improving your search engine rankings. I won’t go into details here (there are stacks of ‘how to’ articles posted elsewhere), but as long as your site has been developed to best practice standards, your key word density is good, your titles and headings are descriptive and you update on a regular basis, your site should rise up the ranks.

I mention this after finding that contentcontent is the top search result on Google for ‘marks and spencers martha lane fox‘. Not the Telegraph, not the Guardian, not even the FT – contentcontent is the top result. Shame it’s one of our weaker posts

Textile – a content editor’s nightmare?

Spent years trying to get to grips with HTML only to find the CMS you’ve inherited uses its own mark up language? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that yet another web editing shorthand has been created: textile.

Replacing the need to use ‘strong’ tags, for example, with a simple:

*This is a bold title!*

…textile takes no time to pick and pretty much covers most quick web editing tasks.

Textile is nothing new and, in my opinion, gets complicated once you try more complex tasks – like tables – but it should speed up editing times and take some of the pain out of basic web page editing.

So – will textile finally ease the pain of trying to source a decent web editor (or even, gulp, a copywriter) with hard to find skills in basic HTML?

Perhaps. I’ll flag up any textile resources I come across, but in the meantime, below are a couple of textile tastic links for your viewing pleasure: news round-up’s decision to publish a round-up of the day’s news just before lunchtime makes common sense.

It’s clear what they’re trying to do, what with the bold: ‘TODAY’S HEADLINES WE SCAN THE PAPERS SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO’ strapline at the top of the day’s headlines.

But one thing – what share of visitors have already read the headlines of the day by the time GQ’s new email newsletter comes out? Assuming’s audience is made up of readers who scan ‘quality’ papers in the morning on the tube or train, how many will click through to the news round up? How many, for example, will have already scanned the headlines or got a round up elsewhere and want the full story?

I’m not stirring – as someone with an interest in making content work, I’m genuinely interested in the motivation behind the service, and importantly, whether it’s delivering.

Diesel campaign website – typo

This is me throwing stones in glass houses, but the new Diesel website has a big hairy typo on it – and at a crucial point in the user journey too.

For the visually impaired, the image shows a Diesel clothing website with the sentence: ‘Take of your mask…’

Typos suck. And so does the ‘Americanisation’ of the English language, but you get my point. ramps up news output

Is destined to become the thinking man’s news-lite site of choice?

Okay, no user’s going to ditch Guardian Unlimited, BBC News or even for’s news output, but it seems to have planted its stake firmly in the ground for a new news analysis / ‘…and finally’ features site. Take a look at the now daily distributed email newsletter, its timely news items and the ‘Breaking Stories on >>>’ banner at the bottom of the page.

Let’s revisit this new strategy in a few months time shall we?

Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday titles get 12 million unique users

Incredible figures for the Mail titles, but this is potentially terrible news for Telegraph readers in more ways than one.

The new figures may ask some to question the Telegraph’s claim about being ‘Britain’s No.1 quality newspaper website’, but the success of the Mail online may encourage the boys over at the Telegraph to pursue an even more inflammatory Mail approach to news.

I’m amazed this or the ‘Britain’s No.1’ claim wasn’t picked up by the Guardian’s digital media reporter when speaking to Edward Roussel, the Telegraph’s digital editor:,,2154828,00.html

Create the perfect editorial style guide and ‘tone of voice’ doc…somebody – please!


Nine times out 10, client style guides for editorial provide obvious top level advice on how to write. There, I’ve said it.

A ‘style guide’ should provide guidance on in-house formatting conventions (e.g. whether to use an upper or lowercase ‘g’ in government). But where these docs often fail is when they get on to the more conceptual / wooly ‘tone of voice and language’ section.

Sure, there’s the odd paragraph on how tone and language should ’embody our brand values’ (no matter how vague they are – ‘Our approach can be described as burnt ocre – not just brown’). Rarely do you see practical guidance on how to pitch the tone of copy.

Good tone of voice docs provide ‘before and after’ examples of copy. Or they build up a picture of someone tangible. One teen advice magazine I wrote for said to pitch copy as if it’s being explained by a friendly and trusted older sibling.

But what other elements make a good editorial style guide / tone of voice doc?

Has a style guidelines doc ever taken your breath away? No – I’m serious. Like, when you open the guidelines, you start reading, and you start hearing the music from Scanners and start choking. Like some lost / deleted scene from the original Evil Dead, which they edited out because despite being ‘one for the copywriters,’ it was a bit unbelievable…like THAT impressive.

IPC Connect launches umbrella content portal Good To Know

Another day, another branded umbrella portal. This time it’s IPC Connect and it’s launch of Good To Know, a new women’s portal linked to titles like Now, Woman and Pick Me Up.

Covering health, food and diet (clearly all women think about according to publishers), IPC Connect says the portal will evolve to meet the needs of its users. Which probably means it could take off or close in the space of three to six months.

Interesting to note that more and more publishers are exploiting umbrella niche-interest web brands to support their offline (and mostly income generating) products.

Talking of umbrella brands, Brand Republic reminds us that Good To Know follows launches not long after House to Home, the portal by IPC’s home magazine publishing arm IPC Southbank.

GQ relaunches e-newsletter…and name-checks competitor?

Behold the brand spanking new email newsletter from GQ magazine. But wait – what’s that at the top?! A ‘quote of the day’ from GQ editor Dylan Jones:

GQ, the magazine we are the proud custodians of, is aimed at men who are proud
to call themselves Alpha Males.

Hmm – would this be a cheeky reference to Alpha One, the code-name of the new free upmarket men’s title by Mike Souter, former editor-in-chief of Emap’s FHM?

It could be given recent media coverage of the men’s lifestyle market. An article on today’s pretty much confirms what the industry’s known for a while – the lower end of the market are shifting their efforts to the web, while the all the up market glossies like GQ, Men’s Health and Esquire are enjoying increases in readership. This explains FHM’s relaunch and move towards the Arena / GQ market.

Read the’s ‘Lad’s mags flag as readers go online’ article.