COLUMBUS, Ohio -- So, what are we, anyway?
That's the question I posed at a staff meeting earlier this week, and it's one I posed the next morning on the daily What's Brewing feature to our readers. The aim wasn't to be willfully nebulous but to try to pin down our identity as a media company, to stress what we actually do best.
The obvious answer is connecting. That's a must here. We're here for you, in every way, shape and form. We're easy to reach. We're accountable. We'll even buy you coffee all across the continent.
But I was pushing more from a journalistic perspective. This had been quietly gnawing at me for weeks. Because some outlets are about hard, fast news. Others are about reacting to that news. Others are about elaborate features. We've done all of those and more, obviously, and part of me was uncomfortable with that. I wondered which was the one people thought of when they'd think about our brand.
So I asked, first at the meeting. And Dale Lolley immediately came back with a single word: "Analysis."
To which most everyone who was there -- John Perrotto was on assignment in Florida -- immediately came back with robust approval.
And the readership responded, almost as universally, the same way.
We're grateful that more than 100 readers took the time to offer their views, and I can't recommend the full thread strongly enough. There are ideas, criticisms, more ideas, more criticisms ... all appreciated, all helpful.
But I'll condense it all to this one entry from 'Badger:' "News and scores can be found anywhere. I come here for analysis and critique of the sports teams and a nice byproduct are the longer magazine in-depth stories … but for me its all about critical analysis."
Yep. That's it. And I can't tell you how uplifting this has felt personally and professionally, all week long. My own OCD personality would love for us to be all things to all people, but that's an absurd overreach. So what I wanted was to grasp what we could do, ideally and realistically, that would make us the most indispensable to the Pittsburgh sports fan.
Analysis is it. So analysis is what you'll get.
We've got a diverse staff in terms of experience, but our singular strength is expertise. Dale and John have both been on their respective beats for more than a quarter-century. But Taylor Haase, who's so much newer to the scene, also has built her own credibility in the hockey community with her expertise in the Penguins' minor-league system, the NHL's inner workings and, of late, the Penguins themselves. Christopher Carter is younger, too, but he works his backside off building up his expertise on NFL strategy and scouting. They're experts. All of them. People want to read and hear what they have to say in their areas of expertise.
That's who we are. So again, that's what you'll get.
Under Dale's direction -- and he began this already at midweek -- every news article we offer, large and small, will be accompanied by a subhead that says, in his case, 'LOLLEY'S VIEW.' That way, you'll get the news, but you'll also hear directly from Dale his interpretation of what this news means. You might or might not agree, but you'll at least have the perspective of our resident expert.
Additionally, you'll see Grind restored to an everyday presence. I'll do it most often but, today for instance, Dale's got it because of the preponderance of football developments.
This won't be extra work for us. It's more of an extra emphasis. And on top of that, you'll see that same emphasis applied on entire articles, a couple a month from each of us. We'll take a topic, break it down, interview people, look at analytics where they're vital and hopefully present it in a lively, entertaining way.
Oh, and as for me, being among the youngsters on the staff, all I want is to be Matt Sunday when I grow up.
FACEBOOK AT 30K
Our recent surges in social media, overseen by Hunter Homistek and Chris Benson, have seen us pass a couple milestones lately. Our company Twitter account passed 30,000 two weeks ago, our Instagram account passed 10,000 a week ago, and we're only 26 likes away from 30,000 on our Facebook page.
The latter is the one where ... well, everyone's climbing uphill on Facebook anymore. That's just the mess that place has become. Still, there are tons and tons of people there and, specific to our needs, that's where we've had the most success finding out-of-town Steelers fans. So it's vital to what we do.
If you already like and follow our Facebook page, thank you. If you see a post you enjoy, please consider liking and sharing it. Or better yet, commenting underneath it. The algorithm that company follows is extremely sensitive to any interaction, and you'll boost our reach exponentially with any little thing you do.
The same is true, to a much lesser extent of Twitter and Instagram, but especially Facebook.
BLOWING BY 1,000 DOWNLOADS
We set a goal to generate 1,000 new app installs by March 28, Major League Baseball's opening day, and we're already at 1,084. Sometimes we set goals that are too high. This one, obviously, was too low. But that's a good problem. We're probably pacing toward 1,500 by the above date, which is a welcome surprise.
Here's where to get your free app:
COLLEGE OFFER EXPIRING
Our friends at Rivals, the country's preeminent home for college sports coverage, reached out to extend an offer to all our current subscribers: Six free months to any site on their network. That's a $50 value, given that their annual subscriptions are $99.95. The offer expires April 1. So go now to their sign-up page and apply the following code: DKRivals6FREE
BACK TO BUSINESS
• New subscribers for 2019 are at 292. Our goal is 3,000. You can now track this figure daily at the bottom of the desktop and tablet versions of the site.
• Our daily active app users, averaged out over the past week, are at 12,828, broken down as 9,967 on Apple, 2,861 on Android. That total's plus-344 from the previous week. This figure will always fluctuate with the seasons and the news, so the goal is a steady, gradual increase, initially to 15,000, a number we've never achieved.
• Our daily page views, averaged out over the past month, are at 73,055. That's plus-429 over the same rolling figure from a week ago. The goal with this figure is also about a steady, gradual increase, first to 100,000, a number we've achieved only during Stanley Cup runs.
• Our most-hit article of the past week -- exempting live files -- was Hunter's Wednesday coverage of the latest on Antonio Brown at 8,370. Next was my column from Montreal on Matt Murray at 8,033, followed, interestingly, by John's coverage from Bradenton of an umpire warning one of the Pirates' pitchers at 7,877. The Penguins accounted for 145,408 of our page views, the Steelers 86,370, the Pirates 52,794.
• We're at 29,974 (+239) page likes on Facebook, we're at 30,427 (+187) followers on Twitter, we're at 10,094 (+63) followers on Instagram, and we're at 747 (+9) followers on YouTube. These figures are just for our official company account on each platform, not for us as individuals.
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