About seven months ago I wrote a post called "My Hometown Newspaper" that got a little attention here in Winston-Salem and in neighboring Greensboro. The post was basically about how, because of staff blogs at the Greensboro News & Record it felt more like my "hometown paper" than the Winston-Salem Journal, despite the fact that the Journal was delivered to my house every day.
I heard from folks at both papers and a guy named Jay Rosen, an influential figure in the news business, wrote about it on his "Pressthink" blog. The experience was more than a little surprising for me since I wrote the post in what I thought was a vacuum. I didn't think anyone read this blog except for me and my family, and then only after I begged them to.
Well it was an even bigger shock today when I was reading Steve Rubel's MicroPersuasion blog and saw this paragraph on his post Listen, Learn, Lead to Succeed:
Palmer gives yet another example of two newspapers that get it. Earlier this year, North Carolina blogger Jon Lowder made a quiet complaint about his hometown paper, the Winston-Salem Journal, and compared it, unfavorably, with the Greensboro News & Record - which is some 30 miles to the east. Both papers responded to Lowder's original blog post. In the Winston-Salem Journal's case they also went ahead and created an RSS feed just days after Lowder's original post.
So I click through to the article he's referencing and find myself described thusly:
What happens when smaller fries harp online? Does corporate America listen?
Most of the time, probably not, but it's interesting to watch when a blog post actually catches a company's attention. That occurred earlier this year, when a North Carolina blogger, Jon Lowder, made a quiet complaint about his hometown paper, the Winston-Salem Journal, and compared it, unfavorably, with a newspaper 30 miles to the east, the Greensboro News & Record.
Okay, so being described as a "small fry" shouldn't boost anyone's ego, but I'm vain enough that I'll take whatever I can get. After all, I'm being compared to Jeff Jarvis who is one of the biggest bloggers out there, a true "A-List" blogger, so being a small fry in his company is kind of like being the wimpiest guy at the Mr. Universe contest...right? The article goes on to say:
Part of the post read, "I live in Winston-Salem. I have the Winston-Salem Journal delivered every morning. But I don't feel like I know anyone there… I get all the N&R blogs via RSS. I don't get their paper… yet. But I still feel closer to the N&R."
There are a million and one wistful comments like this on the web, but somehow this one got traction. For one thing, it was quoted by NYU's Jay Rosen, the author of the PressThink blog, a widely read site.
For another, both the Winston-Salem Journal and the Greensboro News & Record responded to Lowder's original blog post. Indeed, the News & Record's top editor posted a brief reply.
More remarkable still, though, was what happened at the Winston-Salem Journal. Not only did the paper respond to the post and supply contact information, but it went and created an RSS feed just days after Lowder's original post.
Now that's customer service.
That last part is great, because the Journal was responsive, especially a guy over there named Joe who seemed to be the driving force behind their RSS efforts. (Joe has his own personal blog at http://www.joewrite.com). I'm thinking that Joe should get a bonus or something since he's getting his employers some pretty positive online exposure right now.
Finally, I'm once again bowled over by the power of blogs. Think about this: the guy who wrote the article never interviewed me. He got a substantial part of his story from something that I wrote, so he didn't have to interview me because my thoughts were out there for the world to see.
And think about this: something written seven months ago by a guy sitting in his home office in a pair of sweats has impacted two public companies, in whatever small way, over a seven month time span. Now multiply that by however many thousand of people who are out there writing away and you have a very interesting phenomenon.