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Your News. Our Site. My Take.

Today is a huge day at Topix - the biggest since March of 2005 when we closed our deal with Knight Ridder, Tribune and Gannett. The new Topix (don't call us Topix.net any more - we're just Topix) is up and running. I won't go into the various feature detals or history of why this is a monumental development in the company's evolution - for that check out the Topix blog and Rich's blog - but I will give you my "take" on why this is so exciting.

When I started at Topix in the summer of 2003 there were five of us that put out a site covering news for 150,000 different topics. Since then we've grown to over 400,000 topics. With a site this massive, the challenge has always been how do you succintly nail down your user value proposition. How do you tell the user why they should visit our site, and more importantly why should they come back?

If there is any one part of the site that should depict that value proposition in some form or fashion, it is the tagline. As a result, much like the site itself, over the past four years we have struggled to come up with a real zinger.

All of that ends today. The new Topix - with its local news and community focus - is pretty much summed up by our new tag line: "Your Town. Your News. Your Take."

Here's where we came from:

"Pick your Topix, Get the News". This was our first crack at it - I actually came up with a wordier version "you pick the Topix, we deliver the news" - with the rest of the guys paring it down to a more palatable form. Kind of catchy, but what is it exactly does your site? We now affectionately refer to this one as "Pick your nose, Get the News."

"Topix.net: 150,000 News Channels, 4,500 sources, 1 site" Or something to that effect. This stinker was also my idea - i remember liking the numerical imagery, but again, what does your site do?

"The Internet's Largest News Site" I remember the logic behind this one was "you always want to be the -est of something." Sounded good at the time. But the largest news site? hmmmm.

"150,000 News Channels: From Autos to Your ZIP Code" This gem came out of one of those all day messaging meetings with the PR firm. You know the ones where everyone is so tired at the end where you end up agreeing on something just to get out of there? Obviously at this point, we're still trying to be all things to all people - and when you try to be good at everything, you end up being good at nothing.

"Local News For the World" Another one of mine. We're getting closer here: Topix is a local news site. But Local news for the world? Does the world have local news? I thought it was world news. Besides at this point most of our traffic was community traffic, not news traffic. Doesn't that merit mentioning? i.e. close, but no cigar.....

At this point enter stage right: the new PR firm, the branding firm,Rich's brain and product vision, an eng team second to none to implement it, the ad agency, an ops team that makes sure everything goes right, and what do you get:

Your Town. Your News. Your Take. Eureka. My Town - ohhhhh, where I live. My News - aha, you have news there. My Take. I see - its local, it's news and I get to mouth off? I get it now.....

And so goes the process. Trial and error. Sometimes you miss. Other times you don't.

This time Topix hit one out of the park. Congrats to the whole team.

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Comments (3)

Hey Mike,

Everyone here at The Hive Advertising is psyched for your launch, and for being on the team that is helping to make it happen.

And, from what I can see this morning, Sutherland/Gold has done a fantastic job with the PR - way to go.

So, here's to you, Rich, Chris, Amy, Blake and the rest of the Topix team. Buy the ticket...take the ride!

Dave Knox
Creative Director
The Hive Advertising

bob juliano:

Is there _any_ possible way of getting back that "150,000 news sites"?

I really liked getting ALL the news, and I couldn't care less about the hyper focus on local news.

A sad former visitor

Anonymous:

I got a question how is that a comment about the size of ones private parts and subsequent requests for sexual favors is left intact as well as support for terrorism by outlandishly bashing the war effort and suggesting that bush is murdering our own solders and yet comments that take a more realistic view often get deleted

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