ThisisPlymouth saw its traffic spike yesterday after the website broke the news that Plymouth Argyle manager Ian Holloway was quitting to become the new boss of Leicester City.
The club announced Holloway’s departure yesterday afternoon following three days of speculation.
The Plymouth Herald broke the story online was read more than 13,500 times in 12 hours, about 10 times more traffic than a typical front-page story would generate.
Between the first rumours appearing on the site at 4pm Monday and this morning’s paper appearing, stories about Holloway’s departure on ThisPlymouth were read about 53,000 times.
In addition to the online coverage, the Herald rushed out a special edition yesterday with a new front and back page, including instant fan reaction and expert analysis, between 2,000 and 3,000 copies hit the streets before tha evening rush.
Web-first stories boost circulation
Since the Plymouth Herald newsdesk took over the day-to-day operation of ThisisPlymouth a year ago, the website’s traffic has increased 44 per cent to around 500,000 pageviews per day. The paper, meanwhile, has found that a web-first policy boosts print circulation.
“We’ve seeen this before – if you put stories online first, the next day’s circualtion will be up. If you get the stories online, it doesn’t mean that people don’t buy the paper the next day because they’ve already seen the news,” said web editor Neil Shaw.
“We pay close attention to the statistics and every day we take the figures into conference and look at what people are looking at today and this might influence what goes where in the paper tomorrow.”
Until last autumn, ThisisPlymouth was run centrally by an Associated Northcliffe Digital team 40 miles away in Exeter, who repurposed newspaper content for the web. Today, the Herald has three journalists dedicated to the web site, but the whole newsdesk contributes to breaking stories in both print and online.
Paper prints web comments
Readers posted thousands of comments on the Ian Holloway stories online, including more than 400 on a single article. Today’s Herald includes a whole page of comments fans posted on the site as part of 10 pages of coverage.
“It’s something we do more and more often – the comments are a good way to build a circle of interest,” said said Shaw.
“We print the story online, people will comment on the story, we print those comments in the paper and then they go and buy the paper – so we actually find that interest and will increase circulation the next day.”
Story seeded to online communities
The paper’ has also been promoting its stories to existing online communities.
As soon as the news broke, Shaw’s team sent an e-mailto the site’s 23,000 registered news alert subscribers and seeded links to the story on Plymouth Argyle and Leicester City fan community sites.
Shaw said: “It’s something we try to do, not just with football but everything else.
“Whenever we have news on the site we try to find sites that are interested in it rather than just sticking it on the site and hoping that people will find it. We seed these links wherever we can on forums, discussions – whatever we can find.
“When we have news that Kanye West was going to be appearing in Plymouth, we go find the Kanye West fan groups and post links there.
“It works particularly well with the football because there are various sites were people discuss the club. We can take the news sand put it straight on there and they will know we got it first.”