Briefing Notes: HuffPost
Charlie gave us an overview of HuffPost UK. It was the first HuffPost site to be set up outside the US – there are now more than a dozen international editions of HuffPost. It is well resourced, employing around 45 staff – editors, reporters, video producers, social media editors, distributors etc. They have a strong focus on politics but also cover news, entertainment, lifestyle and technology.
Content includes articles, blogs, and video. Social media is used to promote content but many people still come to the main site. Topicality is key even for blogs. If you want your blog on the home page, it needs to feel topical, preferably referencing something that is in the news.
There is no world news section but they have a strong interest in global stories. Charlie singled out their recent global campaign on air pollution which featured contributions from all the countries in which they have teams.
UK audience profile and edition
The UK audience skews younger, female and metropolitan, tends to be liberal/left, socially aware, already consuming news elsewhere. A good audience for NGOs to reach according to Charlie because they like to take action and are socially conscious. Many parents with young children and students too. A blog is successful if it has 1,000 views. HuffPost UK is growing its reach.
The UK edition is independent from the US but all editions share content and plan coverage together. There is an international editor based in the US (Louise Roug) but the UK team have the capacity to commission international stories and to send reporters to cover them. The video team mainly cover UK stories but as the team grows that will change. They already employ 6 producers.
The site has been redesigned to give space for video and to make it more fluid, so blogs don’t appear in a separate column, they are mixed up with everything else. Each day around 6-8 blogs will feature on the home page (Charlie decides which these are). They don’t judge success by numbers alone – they are interested in building a loyal audience who come regularly to the site. If a blog is on the home page it is more likely to be promoted by HuffPost across social media so it will get more views.
Their strapline is ‘know what’s real’ and when they are planning coverage they are always thinking about how a story or issue affects people. A key focus is social justice and they are also keen to run positive stories, particularly those that document social change and show that people’s lives are getting better.
They are interested in environmental stories and ran a series of video reports looking at how climate change is affecting Antarctica. They had a separate site (Sourced) on sustainable living which has now been incorporated into the main site. Charley Ross is the reporter who is keen on covering these issues.
How to submit blogs to HuffPost
To blog for the site you need to be a registered blogger. Once you are registered then you are free to blog whenever you like. If you’re interested in blogging send Charlie a pitch or even a draft of the blog. All blogs should be 500-800 words long. Think of why you are writing this blog and why now – how does it connect to a story in the news or inform an audience of something they are not aware of. The tone and language should be persuasive, accessible and jargon free, and appeal to a general audience.
They currently have 20,000 registered bloggers. In the US the blog site has been closed down but it had open access which did not work. HuffPost UK is light touch but all blogs are checked by the blogs team. They are trying to publish a bit less. The key for Charlie is variety – they want a range of voices and as much first person testimony as possible. They think of bloggers in three categories:
- Authentic voices – someone with direct experience of an issue
- Influential voices – for example, a senior politician who is respected
- Informed voices – someone with expertise
They are happy to run blogs from celebrities provided that they have some expertise – for example Carey Mulligan has written about dementia which she has personal experience of. Bloggers do not need to be based in the UK. Also, they are actively trying to promote regional voices – so they plan more reporting from Birmingham and Manchester in the near future.
Pitching to HuffPost
Blog suggestions – to Charlie or Jess. International stories – to Basia or Jess Brammar. Sustainability –to Charley. Animal welfare – to Kathryn. If you’re not sure who to pitch to then try Charlie, Basia, Jess for advice or if it’s a big idea then Polly.
They are open to suggestions. Unicef pitched a story for last Christmas about life in Syrian refugee camps and they decided to go ahead. They included an appeal alongside their coverage.
- Charlie.Lindlar@huffpost.com Blogs editor
- Jess.Austin@huffpost.com Blogs assistant
- Basia.Cummings@huffpost.com News editor
- Polly.Curtis@huffpost.com Editor in Chief
- Fran.Syrett@huffpost.com Acting head of video
- Jess.Brammar@huffpost.com Head of news
- Andy.Dangerfield@huffpost.com Executive Editor, Distribution
- Kathryn.Snowdon@huffpost.com News reporter (animal welfare stories)
- Jess.Austin@huffpost.com Journalist (lifestyle)
- Louise.Roug@huffpost.com International Director, US based
- Charley.Ross@huffpost.com Reporter (sustainable living)