Thursday, August 23, 2012

You never get a second chance to make a first impression

What are the students who are just arriving on campus this week thinking about The Orion?

If they're returning sophomores, juniors, seniors and grad students, they're wondering when the first issue of the paper is going to come out. But if they're new to campus, they might be picking up a wrinkled, tattered or even yellowed paper from one of the racks that says it was published May 16. They might not even notice the date and spend a few minutes reading months-old news before they figure out they have an old paper in their hands.

Same with the website. While there are new stories on, all of the photos in the slideshow at the top of the home page are from last spring, and three of the five stories displayed in the module/widget in the top right corner of the page are just as old.

Are those the first impressions you want your newest readers to have of The Orion?

Some suggestions:
• Organize a search party to find the old papers, get them out of the racks and recycle them. Replace  with a sign that says:
Wednesday is Orion Day (I love that theme!)
First issue Aug. 29
Read news now at
• Assign two or three photos of what's happening on campus right now (football practice, dorm move-in, construction on the new roundabout, etc.). It doesn't need to be particularly newsy, just new. If it can be tied to a story, so much the better. Replace the old photos in the top-of-the-page rotator with the fresh images. Do this once a day until real stories are available.
• Replace the Popular/Commented widget on the home page top corner with a Latest News widget. That way, all the terrific reporting that's happening right now gets noticed.
• Re-establish the link between the home page Twitter widget and @theorion_news so the newsy tweets that have been posted the past couple of days show up and let readers know you're already on the job.

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