Last month, Maryland community blog Rockville Central moved to a Facebook only format. The decision attracted media attention from a number of journalism sites including Nieman Journalism Lab and Media Bistro’s Social Times among others. Business Wire’s media relations team spoke to Editor Cindy Cotte Griffiths in a recent Q & A that explores this innovative move and how press releases fit in.
Business Wire: What has been the initial reaction from the Rockville Central community?
Cotte Griffiths: Although some people expressed dismay on the website before the move, the initial reaction has been extremely positive on Facebook. Our active users have increased by over 500% and our base continues to grow each day. We are seeing many new people interacting and commenting on the site which has always been our primary goal.
Business Wire: Do you think other media outlets will follow your lead?
Cotte Griffiths: Yes, we do. We’ve already heard of a local newspaper which has informed its staff that it will be shifting entirely to Facebook. However, sites which intend to take advantage of the projected increases in local online advertising probably would not be in a position to shift entirely to Facebook, since Facebook does not offer a revenue sharing arrangement.
Some other interesting developments in the online media world include TechCrunch only allowing comments with a Facebook account, and Warner Bros. making films available on Facebook with Facebook Credits. Meanwhile, big print news outlets are setting up paywalls. Currently, Facebook takes a 30% cut of revenues from sales by third parties using Credits, so perhaps the news world and Facebook Credits might be combined someday.
Business Wire: What makes an effective press release in your opinion?
Cotte Griffiths: For us, a press release needs to be location-based since we will only report on Rockville, Md. We’re willing to include stories about organizations or businesses which are on the forefront of their fields since we like to highlight all the great things produced in our community. So for example, if a biotech company cured a disease or an organization started a successful worldwide program, we would be willing to share the story to emphasize what makes our community special.