Tips for Content Differentiation

What should and should not go online

GateHouse Media Vice President of News & Interactive Brad Dennison, left, and Director of News & Interactive David Arkin in the division’s Chicago-based offices. The GateHouse News & Interactive Division provides a wide range of training, services and support to the company’s hundreds of properties across the country. (Photo by John Cox)

With content direction responsibility for GateHouse Media, Brad Dennison has his hands in a wide range of projects but none gets a higher priority than driving and engaging audience in print and online. “Everything we do within the division is ultimately aimed at supporting that mission in some way,” says Dennison, VP of News & Interactive.

Just over a year ago, GateHouse recalibrated their digital strategy to focus on three key components: Constant updating, multimedia and reader involvement. That became a full program called “Web Cube” — a multi-dimensional approach to driving audience, executed in a consistent way across a large, spread out company.

Dennison sat down with Suburban Publisher editor Deb Shaw for the June issue of Suburban Publisher and answered a series of questions that delved into this strategy and the tools aimed at helping their local properties customize the approach to fit their specific needs. Dennison also offered a few tips from the GateHouse News & Interactive Division for better content differentiation between print and online:

Tips for Content Differentiation

What should not go online:

  • Full cop, sheriff logs or blotters
  • Public record: Court proceedings, marriage licenses, birth announcements
  • Long meeting stories: Recommend seven inches on the biggest issue of the meeting
  • Long, in-depth, text-and-photo-only projects
  • Non-controversial, non-topical letters, columns, editorials or syndicated columns
  • Community columns and general topical columns: Library or parks and recreation columns
  • Most human-interest stories, unless they have a “Wow, I’m going to e-mail this to someone” factor
  • Feature stories of event coverage: School events, festivals, etc. (photo galleries are a better fit for this kind of coverage)
  • Long game stories: Similar to meeting stories, post the nuts and bolts of most game stories, unless it’s the big Friday night football game

What should go online:

  • Breaking news
  • Police briefs: Posted as individual headlines
  • Court stories
  • Short meeting stories
  • General news stories
  • Politics and election coverage
  • Calendar content: As individual announcements, where appropriate
  • Controversial or highly topical letters, columns, editorials
  • Useful features: Recipes, tips, how-tos, entertainment, arts and dining
  • Engagement, wedding and birth announcements
  • Short game stories
  • Announcements: Sports clinics, sports camps, school closings, upcoming events, PSAs, weather alerts, press releases

Continue the discussion with Brad Dennison and his colleague David Arkin in a free SNA Foundation-sponsored webinar on Thursday June 17 at 11am EST.

Entitled Content Differentiation: How To Drive Online Audience Without Cannibalizing Print, our presenters will delve deeply into the decisions behind their strategy (including how the debate about paywalls and paid content entered into it), their Web Cube program for engaging audience, content differentiation recommendations and how to overcome implementation hurdles.

This is a must attend for anyone responsible for audience development. Register now.

Free SNA Foundation-sponsored Webinar

Thursday June 17, 11am EST

Content Differentiation: How To Drive Online Audience Without Cannibalizing Print


Speakers Brad Dennison, VP of News & Interactive, GateHouse Media and colleague David Arkin, Director of News & Interactive, will share the analytics behind GateHouse’s recently adopted content differentiation strategy, how it is adapted to local markets, the results they are seeing so far, and 5 ways to successful implementation.

This webinar and the e-learning course from which it stems (Build & Engage Local Audiences Online are free thanks to a grant from the Knight Foundation.