Looking to generate more online content? Put someone in charge of it

For the past couple of years, the editors at the HiLite newspaper staff in Carmel, IN, have bemoaned the fact that they didn’t seem to have enough new content on the HiLite Web site. After all, they said, if we want people to go there, we have to give them a good reason. But with print publication responsibilities, there just wasn’t enough time and there weren’t enough resources to devote to bringing fresh content online.

That’s all changed this year. Good intentions only go so far, after all, and in an attempt to bring those good intentions to fruition, the HiLite staff has undergone several changes to its infrastructure to accommodate its growing online audience. One of those specific changes is the advent of “special projects editors.”

Four veteran staff members now serve as special projects editors in charge of bringing that new content online. When I announced the position last year – and specifically when I presented it to the four young ladies who now serve in that capacity – I was met with some confusion. What did the position entail? What would it look like? What responsibilities would these “special projects” editors have?

My response? “I have no idea, but I know you’ll be good at it.”

And so far this year, these four special projects editors have not disappointed the staff. They have literally been inventing their role on staff, at times incorporating print elements in the publication, but more often placing their content on the Web site. They started small – at the beginning of the year they produced a “New Student Survival Guide” and later a “Guide to Freshman Class Elections.”

Just a couple of weeks ago, though, they really took off, tackling most of the Homecoming content themselves. Our print issue was distributed the Thursday before Homecoming week, but the special projects team had already been hard at work, generating several stories, videos, slideshows and more in a special section on the Web page. The Web section, titled “Your Homecoming 2009 HQ,” quickly became the most accessed page on the site, according to Google Analytics data.

And they’re not done. In the next couple of days, Carmel High School student readers can look forward to a Halloween haunted house guide. Later? There will be content surrounding prom, graduation, spring break and more.

What’s this all mean? Well, good intentions can only go so far. If you want something to happen, you’ve got to put someone in charge of it. This year’s special projects editors are a testament to that philosophy.