Saturday, September 26, 2015

Mobile App is Attracting Attention

A push by The Orion PR team and timely updates by a new manager have revived interest in the paper's mobile app.

Taylor Sinclair's team ran a contest in mid-September that gave away tickets to the Taste of Chico if users would download the app and tweet at the @theorion_news account. The day the winners were announced was the single highest day for page views in the history of the app -- almost 7,000!

The number of people who had downloaded the app also increased, from 521 at the end of the summer to 710 by the end of this week. The rate of downloads doubled from about two a day to more than four.

All those extra eyeballs had an effect on overall traffic, too. Page views for the month were 20,783 compared to the average monthly number of views from the previous 12 months of 4,000. Even taking away the blip from the day the contest results were announced, that's still a 10,000-page-view increase.

Some of that increase might have been the result of design and content tweaks by new app manager Esmeralda Ramirez, a former Orion online editor. She introduced a new eye-catching theme and expanded the menu to offer readers access to more features and services.

If you haven't yet, you can download The Orion mobile app here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Newspaper Distribution 101

There's a right way and a wrong way to distribute The Orion to news racks around campus. This photo shows the wrong way.
Photo by Lars Gustafson

Here's the right way:
1. Check the delivery sheet to make sure you're dropping the correct number of bundles at each site.
2. Pick up any issues of the previous week's papers and recycle them.
3. Take the plastic ties from around the bundle or bundles you're dropping off and throw them away.
4. Put the new papers top-of-front-page facing up on the rack.

When you've delivered all the papers, return your wire cart to the office and let the office manager know if you had any problems or any racks are damaged or vandalized.

(Some weeks, the public relations staff may ask for a count of papers remaining on racks. Be sure to take the time to count them accurately before you recycle.)

Also, not all the people who signed up to deliver papers the last two weeks showed up at 7:30 to take their turn distributing the copies around campus. When someone misses a shift, others have to be called in to do their work. So.... show up when you're scheduled.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Importance of Art With Every Story

                     THIS?                    OR                    THIS?                                                                 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bump from Sutter Salamander Helps September Traffic

Online traffic is back on track at thanks, in part, to a nice bit of spot-news reporting about a reptile photographed in a salad at Sutter Dining.

Michael Catelli's story, which was posted a half-hour before noon Friday, had attracted more than 3,000 page views in four days, pushing visits to the website to 3,652 for the day it was posted, almost 1,100 more than the day before.

It was by far the most viewed story of the week.

Visits to for the first week of September stood at just under 20,000 compared to about 14,274 during the same week last year. So, after a slow start, the website is now ahead of year-ago numbers for visits, though page views are still running way behind.

Some other interesting first-week-of-September numbers (from web hosting service BlueHost):
• Bucking a national trend, still gets almost all of its traffic from people who go there directly (86.9 percent of page views) rather than from search engines (7 percent) or social media (5.7 percent).
• Facebook referrals accounted for two-thirds of that traffic coming from outside sites despite a much more active Twitter feed.
• 78.7 percent of visits lasted 30 seconds or less. That number was 75.8 percent in September 2014.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

School starts, audience doubles

It shouldn't come as a shock that students make up the majority of visitors to website. How big a part of the audience is evident by this chart provided through the Awstats program available from the paper's web hosting service, BlueHost.

Average daily page views for the month of Augest were 8,976, but the average for the first week of classes 12,090. Big difference!

Compared to the first week of classes last fall, though, The Orion audience was tiny:
F2014 first-week page views: 139,628
F2015 first-week page views: 60,448

It's impossible to know why there was twice as much traffic on the site as the same week a year ago, but my best guess is that last fall's staff hit the ground running and was actually posting news online the week BEFORE school started, including stories about a fire at a frat house, a benefit for a student who had drowned over the summer and a plea in a fatal hit-and-run case involving students.

Here are the top stories from last week:
HIV the Second Generation, Part 2 (a column that ran last May) - 3,409 views
Chico State Faculty, Staff Hit the Ground Running (a feature story from March) - 3,388 views

No other stories cracked the Top 25 viewed pages. Lots of people were looking at the website, though,, expecting to find new content. The home page had 52,325 visits. The 12th through 25th most viewed pages were section pages for news, sports, features, etc.

The lesson here is that The Orion audience is ready for campus news long before the first issue of the paper comes out on the first Wednesday of the semester. Keep your fingers crossed that not finding what they want won't keep them from coming back now that the semester is in full swing.