BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in April 2008We've left it here for reference.More information
Manchester

Bringing the BBC Manchester Blog Project to an End (is only the beginning...)

  • Robin Hamman
  • 28 Mar 08, 04:06 PM

The BBC Manchester Blog will be closing on Sunday. When Richard Fair and I launched it in August 2006 we had high expectations, not just of the blog itself, but of how the blog would help us to trial a new model of how the BBC and other broadcasters could engage with what the industry calls "user generated content". Our first post explained:

"For years, the BBC has been looking at ways to engage more directly with it's audiences. We've promoted email addresses on air and asked for photo submissions, we've stuck comment forms on the bottom of articles, we've spend countless hours building message boards and community platforms, our staff have reviewed and approved millions upon millions of messages - and what have we learned? That all this is expensive business.

In the past, whenever the BBC has sought to do something with user generated content we've built new platforms, taken on the role of managing all the content that floods in, asserted some rights over that content (although not ownership in the vast majority of cases) and, some would argue, exposed the BBC to legal and moral risks. Furthermore, doing things in the old way had a bit of a sting in the tail - if a service really took off, and sometimes they did, the BBC would actually face increased costs because our services often don't scale well.

This project is an experiment in doing things a bit differently. Rather than building platforms, we want to help people create their own stuff on existing third party (non-BBC) platforms. Instead of contributors sending us content members of staff here at the BBC sifting through that content in a bid to find the good bits, we're simply going to ask contributors to tell us where they're publishing their content online and we'll keep an eye on it. The BBC won't claim any rights over the content and won't own anything..."

Our new way of doing things raised quite a few eyebrows with some, at least initially, skeptical of our motives, and others excited by our attempt to try something a bit different.

As part of the project we ran a blogging workshop and organised some informal blogger meet-ups. And then you invited us to yours. We read your blogs and invited some of you to read your posts on the radio. We quoted from and linked to your posts and many of you linked back. Basically, we did what bloggers do through their blogs and comments and links - we had a conversation.

We have yet to write the final review of the project, in part because our time to work with the model came to an end a long time ago but the blog has carried on under a different guise. That said, below we've provided a brief summary of some of the key things we've learned from the project:

  • Being part of the community by participating as equals, as opposed to participating as a broadcasting organisation keen for new content but not interested in the community, brings with it many editorial and personal rewards.
  • Even if you use time saving tools such as RSS, social bookmarking and technorati, sifting through content and write posts that quote from and link to the best bits.
  • People don't necessarily blog or post content about the topics, stories and events that media organisations might hope they would - and, in our experience anyway, rarely post about news and current affairs.
  • As a stand-alone proposition, the amount of staff time and effort spent was high in comparison to the quantity of content generated and size of audience served. But, when we were able to use the contacts and content we found through the blog on-air that equation immediately changed. That is, in resource terms, the blog was costly as just a blog but much more efficient as a driver of radio content.
  • The best way to get noticed online is links and the best way to get links is to give good links yourself. That is, you have to play by the established rules of engagement and, online, that means linking prolifically.

Many of the ideas, tools and techniques we used as part of the BBC Manchester Blog have since been embraced by other BBC Blogs, websites and programmes. Indeed, word about the model we created for the BBC Manchester Blog has traveled far and wide, sometimes taking us with it, influencing a number of interesting projects elsewhere.

As for Richard and myself - well, we'll probably keep on blogging and, with any luck, will keep in touch with some of the great people we've met through the BBC Manchester Blog.

We'd like to thank all of you who took notice of or participated in the BBC Manchester Blog. You'll find links to some great Manchester blogs in our sidebar.

Finally, we'd like to say a special thanks to our good friend Kate Feld who, for a few months at the beginning of the project, became the BBC's first ever local on-air blog reviewer. If you want to delve beneath the surface of Manchester by reading it's blogs, Kate's Manchizzle is, in our opinion, the epicenter of the local blogging community.

Best wishes - and happy blogging.

Robin Hamman and Richard Fair



Comments   Post your comment

Aw, that's a shame. Still, the BBC as a whole has embraced blogging quite successfully overall. The BBC Internet blog is an interesting 'behind the scenes' look at what goes on in far corners of the organisation while Darren Waters and Rory Cellan-Jones' Technology blog has become a daily read for me.

I think there's a role for a Manchester-centric BBC blog. It could feature guest pieces by staff from all around New Broadcasting House, from Gordon Burns to the mailroom staff. They could write about what they do in their jobs or interesting projects they're working on. It'd help the BBC to be 'open and accessible' to the public and would probably have careers education benefits too.

Still, the blog in its current form worked well for me. I got a radio interview out of it! :)

Complain about this post

Post a complaint

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Required
Required (not displayed)
 

Aw, that's a shame. Still, the BBC as a whole has embraced blogging quite successfully overall. The BBC Internet blog is an interesting 'behind the scenes' look at what goes on in far corners of the organisation while Darren Waters and Rory Cellan-Jones' Technology blog has become a daily read for me.

I think there's a role for a Manchester-centric BBC blog. It could feature guest pieces by staff from all around New Broadcasting House, from Gordon Burns to the mailroom staff. They could write about what they do in their jobs or interesting projects they're working on. It'd help the BBC to be 'open and accessible' to the public and would probably have careers education benefits too.

Still, the blog in its current form worked well for me. I got a radio interview out of it! :)

Complain about this post

Post a complaint

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Required
Required (not displayed)
 

Awww... we'll miss you guys in Manchester's cosy little corner of the blogosphere. Pat yourselves on the backs for a job well done - your project did much to demonstrate how the established media could engage with blogging on equal terms, and I think a lot of good has come out of that.

Complain about this post

Post a complaint

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Required
Required (not displayed)
 

Aw, bummer. You were always very generous in your support of my little corner, and it was always appreciated.
Good job, guys.

Hopefully you'll still be available for the pub now and then? Drinking in Manchester won't be the same without somebody present with a big BBC microphone.

Cheers.

Complain about this post

Post a complaint

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Required
Required (not displayed)
 

Robin, Richard,

A shame to hear about this, but a huge thank you for being there and bringing us all under one cap. I cannot complain about anything, as the project gave me a plenty of insights, experience, not to mention the chance to know both of you, as well as Kate. I blogged about the BBC Manchester Blog, and a few bloggers who linked to my posts highlighted the fact that Notebooks was a part of the BBC Manchester Blog project. So, this was an absolutely successful project for all of us, I think. Luckily, I should still have my full interview, so I'll happily keep reminding the world about (nearly) once the BBC Manchester Blog project. Otherwise, I'm open to ideas and contact. :-)

Best wishes,

Julia

Complain about this post

Post a complaint

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Required
Required (not displayed)
 

Post a comment

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

Required
Required (not displayed)
 
    

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy