Opinion: From our readers - Times Online offers much despite paywall

Is a 90 per cent decline in story views and a 55 per cent decline in visitors to the front page of Times Online (Neilson 2010) a measure of success in anyone's book?

For sure, The Times can say it has a lower number of higher quality page views. But with everyone else's editorial so freely available online, it would be unrealistic to believe that users read only the Times Online if they are subscribers and ignored everyone else.

The Times' paywall has not created an exclusive highbrow club, it has simply decimated its online readership.

Does The Times' paywall mean that clients are less eager to get coverage on the Times website? The answer would have to be yes and no. For clients whose target audience is not represented by your average Times Online reader, the attraction of getting coverage on the site remains low - but then it has always been low, regardless of the paywall.

However, for those who are trying to get their messages across to the Times Online audience, there has never been a better time.

Readers behind the paywall are a hugely motivated and engaged audience, much more so than the average Times Online reader in the days before the paywall.

The new Times Online website and its audience are still in their infancy.

But one thing is certain - taking the Times Online team off your target media and content list altogether would be a step in the wrong direction.

Christian Mahne, head of Lansons Live

- Spreading the word is what blogging is about I was approached a while back by a blogger called Mowie, who asked if I could do PR for his food blog. I sent out a press release earlier this week to my food and drink contacts.

The press release also got into the hands of a number of food bloggers and went around Twitter like wildfire, causing a huge debate about whether it was right for a blogger to have his/her own PRO. The bloggers were gobsmacked that I was working with Mowie and thought he had sold out and was only looking for a 'commercial deal'. This left me baffled. Was there something wrong about doing PR for a blogger? How dare they say this when they accept freebies from PR agencies and are constantly promoting themselves on Twitter?

It begs the question about where bloggers sit between journalists and PROs, and what they see is the purpose of the blog and, of course,why they even write one? The blogging industry, especially food blogging, is hugely competitive, with people rushing to be the first to review a restaurant when it opens.

The reaction I received as a result led me to believe it was all about self-gratification and not really about the love of food.

Mowie enlisted me to spread the word about great food, which is surely the most important thing for a blog?

Gemma Massey, founder, Gemma Massey PR

Know your bloggers, page 20. Email letters (200 words maximum) to prweekletters@haymarket.com

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