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Webinar | How to create and execute a successful video strategy for local media

Cherry Wolf (Marketing specialist) 6 hours ago • updated 6 hours ago 0

From social media to over-the-top (OTT), everyone is talking about video. At our May customer webinar, Susan Bell, senior product manager of BLOX OTT, will discuss this growing opportunity for local media and how to get started.

Topics include:

  • Expanding your audience with digital video.

  • Why you need a video strategy and how to start developing one.

  • How video can help you boost user engagement.

  • . . . and much more.

Join us on May 3rd at 10:30 AM CDT to learn how.

Want to take in the webinar on your own time? Register now and we’ll send you a link to the webinar recording once it’s ready.


Webinar recording now available | Are you making the most of syndication?

Cherry Wolf (Marketing specialist) 4 weeks ago • updated by Gladys Elliott 10 hours ago 2

Watch the recording now

The goal of every site is to draw users in and keep them—an engaged userbase usually equates to bigger revenue. At our April customer webinar, Christine Masters, director of product management, and Tim Turner, content program manager, at TownNews.com, shared best practices for making the most of syndication and ways you can make it work for you.

Topics include:

  • Best practices for managing syndicated content in BLOX CMS
  • Examples of our favorite sites using aggregation
  • Tips for getting RSS feeds from the community and other local sites
  • Setting up a group content hub
  • Working with the TownNews.com Content Exchange

FEEDBACK REQUESTED: Social Override Fields

Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 2 weeks ago • updated yesterday at 8:18 p.m. 2

We are working on adding new "social override" fields to allow customization of these meta tags at an asset by asset level. The fields would include:

  • Social preview image: Ability to change og:image separate from main photo or teaser image.
  • Social title: By default it is the headline, but can be overwritten here.
  • Social description: By default it is the summary, but can be overwritten.

Here is the part where I would like feedback:

  • Twitter card: By default, we will use the "summary_large_image" setting, unless vertical or too small, in which case it will use "summary." If there is no image, it will use the og:image tag, and will use the "summary."

I can't (right now) create a default per section, so I need some logic that will get close. I think the following:

- We can have horizontal images use summary_large_image, and articles with no image, small images, or vertical images use "summary."

- I could have all articles with images use "summary_large_image," and only articles with small images or mugshot presentation images use "summary." Articles with vertical images would rely on Twitter's photo cropping AI to fix it. Or, an editor could go into the article and create a new social preview that fixes the crop.

- Twitter card could be changed with batch edit.

Let me know what you think!


Thanks Kevin! I've also spoken with some people behind the scenes as well and that seems to be pretty universal right now. Thanks!

Under review

FEEDBACK REQUESTED: "New" flags, "updated" flags, important updates & more

Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 3 weeks ago • updated by Kevin M. Cox 1 week ago 6

I am reviewing feature requests and other issues surrounding start times and update times of articles. My question to you guys is:

- Is there any reason NOT to turn on important updates?

I'm considering making this feature enabled by default. Meaning, only updates on which you check the "important updates" box will modify the "last modified" time. An unimportant update would still create an entry in the story's revision history (in case you need to track it), but otherwise wouldn't trigger anything on the front end.

As part of this:

- Add "important updates" to all asset types.

- Allow block to be sorted by "update time" (which would include only important updates).

- Add flags or other indicators on the front end when stories are updated or new.

- Add more specific publish date and updated date to front end article (for transparency to readers)

- Remove settings for "important updates" and "add comments to important updates" since they would be default for everyone.



Facebook Instant Articles

Paul MacNeill 2 years ago • updated by ElenaBarker 2 weeks ago 5

Following up on Rob Weir's question, but with a Facebook focus. A Wordpress plug in was just announced making it easy for all publishers to access instant articles. Does TownNews have a plan to quickly match this?


Yes! We have already built the integration in fact. We haven't yet announced it because we'd like to have a customer go live with it to make sure it works properly and there are no issues. If anyone has a Facebook account that is approved for this, let me know, since it is still technically in beta on the Facebook side. =)




Moving the "Save" and "Cancel" buttons in the asset creation window

Nick 3 years ago • updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 2 weeks ago 20
We've had several times when reporters are writing stories and they accidentally move the mouse a half an inch too far and click "Cancel" when they meant to click "Save." I know in this tech savvy world they should know to save, but at the same time auto-save exists in other programs and so they're used to the system saving for them. I think an easy fix(I changed it in the in-browser CSS code in about 15 seconds) to this would be to move the "Save" button and the "Cancel" button a few inches apart.

That's the easy way. I think another thing that would help this issue would be to add a "Are you sure you want to cancel?" prompt if the "Cancel" is clicked and the asset hasn't been saved in a while.

I know TownNews is proud of its in-browser asset creation, but I think the majority of the reporters here have been burned too many times and just write in a word processor, then copy and paste it in TCMS.

TownNews.com at NAB Show 2018, Apr 9 - Apr 12

TownNews.com and Field59 will be at the NAB Show next week with special guest Anchorman Ron Burgundy, ready to talk about all things video!

Will you be there? Let us know! Stop by South Upper Hall Booth SU14614 for your chance to meet our team and the Anchorman himself!

Take a pic and post to social with the #StayClassyNAB hashtag, then head across the aisle for a bite and a beer in the Draft House. It's new this year, and we're lucky enough to be right next to it for 4 whole days!

Under review

Is it possible for centerpiece photo on hub page to be a gallery instead of an image?

Kyle Whitfield 2 years ago • updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 4 weeks ago 3

So for example, on our site, we have a centerpiece headline, photo, summary text and related links ... it would be cool if there'd be a way to have the gallery arrows added to the top-right hand corner of the photo then, when a user clicks on the arrow, the a full-screen gallery would appear. I think it would allow for a lot of good interaction directly off a page that gets a ton of traffic. This something others have asked about?


Access block custom properties in UTL

Aidian 1 month ago • updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 1 month ago 2

Anyone know syntax for access a block's custom property in UTL?  Context would be an to use as parameter in an if statement.  It's one of the (many, many) undocumented parts of the language.  Thanks folks!


From within the block? Use this.block.custom.(custom property name), depending on the custom property type.

It's in the docs, but kind of hidden there. There is a dev-specific part of the documentation with it.

Also, there's a little question mark in the top-right corner that has some reference stuff.


Vote now: Local Media Association R&D Partner of the Year

Cherry Wolf (Marketing specialist) 2 months ago • updated 2 months ago 3

Exciting news! TownNews.com made the final list for the Local Media Association R&D Partner of the Year. Now, the voting begins.Our mission every day at TownNews.com is to help our partners grow digital revenue and audience with our tools and technology, and we would love your vote and support for this honor. Thank you. 


Add Mailchimp preferences to User Dashboard

phumes 2 months ago 0

We currently use Mailchimp to send and manage our email news blasts. Our subscribers are limited to updating their preferences within mailchimp settings. We would like to add a feature to our User Dashboard (“townnewssite”.com/users/admin/) so that users can manage their Mailchimp preferences, like what is available through Constant Contact.

We need this implemented because we prefer the use of Mailchimp vs Constant Contact for its usability and design capabilities. It has become a burden for our readers to manage two different accounts and our newsroom would like to move towards more streamlined personalization features. We anticipate this improved personalization will make our users turned newsletter subscriber into paying members, which will increase our happiness with the capabilities of TownNews CMS :)


TownNews.com and Brainworks Software launch strategic partnership

Cherry Wolf (Marketing specialist) 3 months ago • updated 3 months ago 0

TownNews.com and Brainworks Software today announced a strategic partnership aimed at providing new and innovative solutions that help print, broadcast, digital, and web-native media companies jumpstart revenue and audience engagement. Read more


Webinar | What's BLOX OTT?

Cherry Wolf (Marketing specialist) 4 months ago • updated 3 months ago 1

Webinar recording now available.

Grow your audience and drive revenue with streaming video

BLOX OTT enables media organizations to grow their audiences with branded channels on all of the major streaming platforms, including Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. At our January customer webinar, Susan Bell, senior product manager of BLOX OTT, will discuss what over-the-top (OTT) video is, how you can start making money and expanding your reach with streaming video.

Topics will include:

  • An overview of the complete BLOX OTT app suite.
  • Populating your channel with high quality homegrown and community-sourced video.
  • Turning your OTT channel into a powerful driver of new revenue.
  • . . . and much more!

Ready to learn how you can benefit from BLOX OTT? 


NCAA Men's basketball bracket

jami.christopher 5 months ago 0

Will you be doing any online bracketology options for the NCAA Men's basketball tournament? Might be a good way to sale some advertising especially for your college accounts.


Feature request: Locking a block like an asset would be locked

Kyle Whitfield 5 months ago 0

We run into problems sometimes where 2 editors are simultaneously in a block, rearranging pins and then accidentally just saving over one another. It'd be nice for blocks to be locked when someone is in one, much like assets would be locked.

We run into situations, especially in breaking news, where 2 people might have our homepage top stories block open. Both are pinning and re-arranging stories -- but they're accidentally saving over each other's work without knowing it.

What problem(s) does this solve? See above

Why do you need this idea? See above.

How often would you use this feature? Daily

How many people would this affect in our news org? 100+