By Holly Sutton on 1 March 2018
Tougher guidelines for HuffPost UK as The Platform hits the wall
Thought leadership is an overused term, littered throughout marketing and PR plans. So ubiquitous has the practice of self promotion via comment-style pieces online become that the US HuffPost scrapped its self publicising contributor platform at the end of last month.
Set up in May 2005, The Platform was a revolutionary new way for people without a voice to put a megaphone to their opinions. Before the advent of Twitter, and when Facebook was just a start-up, this was a totally novel idea. Now, not so much.
Such is the din of self publicity State-side that it’s become a case of ‘see ya later’ for Americans who previously had an open-source, highly search-optimised blogging platform to post regular ‘content’ based on their areas of expertise and unique insight. Instead, HuffPost US is going back to old school with its commentary – appointing a series of well-known commentators on HuffPost Opinion and commissioning first-person narratives, interviews and features on HuffPost Personal.
But in the UK, we get to keep our blogging platform, with the caveats of a stricter set of rules aimed at improving its content for HuffPost readers.
Currently, the blogging platform works through an initial pitch process to the blogs editorial team about why you have opinions that HuffPost readers might care about. Once you’ve been accepted onto the platform you are provided with login details that mean that, as frequently as once a month, you can upload a piece of 800-1500 words on a topic of your choosing. Prior to this recent announcement, the HuffPost editorial team would give your uploaded content a quick once- over to check it didn’t break any of their rules’s not offensive and tidy up any erroneous grammar and typos. Previously, within a few hours your copy would be up on their site for HuffPost’s millions of readers to see.
Now, the news rule bring with them a stricter vetting period and longer period from uploading the content onto the platform to seeing it published on the site. The new rules forbid:
- Anything too niche
- Too introspective or diary-like
- The airing of personal business
- Product endorsements
- Publicity posts
With bans on bloggers who breach these new guidelines.
HuffPost UK says they want Brits to continue to use to use the blogging platform to do what it does best, that is:
- Amplify the voices of people who otherwise go unheard
- Set the agenda with influential perspectives
- Analyse and scrutinise the news agenda with informed perspectives and personal experiences
- Showcase your brilliant writing and strong opinions
- Help you find an audience
We have used this platform since its inception in 2011 for many of our clients; from Professor Henrietta Moore to share her opinions on what ‘spreadsheet Phil’ could have done for a truly radical Budget; to CEO of Action on Elder Abuse Gary FitzGerald’s piece spotlighting abuse of older women. Both of these pieces would pass the new more stringent vetting processes and I hope would also meet HuffPost UK’s advice for the ‘best blogs’ which it says are:
- Engaging, persuasive and written for a wide audience
- Written in the first person
- Opinion-led, persuasive and geared toward a UK audience
- Include personal experience or demonstrable expertise
- And always answer the question: why does the HuffPost audience need to hear this from me, and why now?
There’s nothing quite so tart as losing something to make you savour what you had in the first place. And I imagine there are quite a few US commentators that will sorely miss The Platform. But, while it’s still here in the UK, we should make the most of this phenomenal opportunity to share well-informed opinion that challenges and engages brand new audiences. For reach figures – the site struggles to be bettered – reaching up to 5.9 million worldwide.
Hopefully the demise of the uncensored US version will focus minds at HuffPost UK on ensuring that articles meet the highest journalistic standards, keeping ‘The Blog’ going for a long time to come. But that’s only one side of the equation: it’s also incumbent on contributors to ensure their pieces address real issues of concern in a thought-provoking way and aren’t simply blatant commercial or reputational plugs.
If you would like help to make the most of the opportunities HuffPost and other such sites present you and your business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch*.
*Self-promotion not forbidden here as it’s on our own site!