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October 9, 2012updated 12 Oct 2012 4:11pm

How to punch above your weight as a local weekly

By William Turvill

The Wirral Globe has won plaudits for its campaigns and has a fast-growing website.

In April, it beat the Manchester Evening News, and a host of other North West publications, to be named media website of the year at the How-Do Awards. It was also nominated for campaign of the year in the Regional Press Awards.

In May, editor Leigh Marles told Press Gazette how a free weekly paper, with a circulation of a little over 100,000, manages to make a big impact.

Online advances. We’re part of the Newsquest Group and so have had a big website change in the past 12 months.

We’ve got a number of new buttons, fonts, colours, straps, etc., and it’s really worked for us. The more attractive the site, the more likely people are to spend time there.

In addition, we try to keep the website as active as possible. We have a team of five and generally upload between a dozen and 20 stories per day.

Our readers are very active as well and it’s not uncommon for us to get over 100 comments on a single story.

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We’re very active on social media as well. We’ve got 3,700 Facebook friends and a similar number of Twitter followers.

We’ve got a great young reporter, Stephanie Cureton, who is verykeen on social media and uses it to great effect.

You can’t put your finger on one particular thing to explain why our website has been so successful over the last year; I think it’s just the general mix of digital stuff that’s going on.

Breaking the news. We’ve got a lot of competition in the area – the Liverpool Echo, the Liverpool Post and Wirral News – so it’s important to break what we know as soon as possible.

We’ve been around for a while, so have developed some really good contacts and they’re where we get our news from generally.

We break at least one exclusive pretty much every day. Although we do update the website with national news, provided by Press Association, the majority of our stories are very local-orientated and geared towards people of the Wirral.

The whistleblower campaign. Our biggest success, and what sees us nominated for the Regional  Press Awards, has been our council exposures.

It started when we found out, through our whistleblowing source, the council had been overcharging residents living in its care.

We kept it going, kept it in the public eye for four years and a lot of changes have come about in the past 12 months because of the hard work of our journalists here.

It led to a report which found that Wirral Borough Council was breaching a number of standards that other councils wouldn’t dream of breaching; practices that other councils would consider abnormal were very much common place here.

This has led to a massive overhaul and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that unless the Globe had shone the light it, it is very likely nothing would have happened.

Striking a balance between online and print. Our website and newspaper complement each other.

There are advantages to writing on both and we promote our website in the newspaper and vice-versa. I think a lot of newspapers do web-first stories begrudgingly, but in our case we get a thrill out of breaking the news.

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