The Telegraph's web evolution continues

Few in the PR community would dispute that when it comes to quality newspapers, The Telegraph often has an edge over its competitors.

The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph

This reputation for quality can only have been enhanced by the broadsheet's recent coverage of the MPs' expenses scandal. And it does not seem to have done its website any harm either.

In March, had the most unique users of any newspaper site in the UK. In May, the month the MPs' expenses exclusive broke on, the newspaper was still number two online - behind The Guardian.

And just last week, it relaunched its blogs.

PR professionals point to the site's ability to keep innovating as a key factor in its appeal.

'It has embraced what the web is all about,' says Google's comms head Peter Barron, who points to the combination of news, features and commentary with blogs, video, dating and gaming.

The site's early adoption of social media, through tools such as Digg Widget, means that eight per cent of its traffic comes from social media sites.

Strong functionality is a big part of The Telegraph online, nowhere more so than through its video content. 'We advise clients to think about how their story will work not only from the newspaper's point of view, but from the video content side,' says Edelman strategic media unit associate director Rishi Bhattacharya.'It has a capacity to bring a story to life with video,' agrees Burson-Marsteller director Amanda Pierce. 'But it doesn't sell that offering enough on its home page.'

Pierce's comment reflects a reasonably common view among PR professionals, which is that The Telegraph website could improve through better design and interactivity.

'I get the feeling it is more about pushing out news,' says Hill & Knowlton head of digital Gaylene Ravenscroft. 'I'd recommend it improves flexibility and interaction.'

Mandate CEO Sacha Deshmukh, who recently hired two members of The Telegraph team, believes the site faces a 'strategic decision' as it attempts to plough a course between the 'viewspaper' appeal of The Guardian and the BBC portal.

'It is often quick off the mark with breaking news, most times ahead of the Press Association and the other newspapers,' says Deshmukh. 'But it is not beating Sky and the BBC so it has to decide whether it wants to be the first port of call for news or a place that has a different purpose.'

Chris McLaughlin, V-P for external affairs at Inmarsat, warns that The Telegraph faces a challenge in persuading its older readership to go online: 'It is going to have to change to attract a younger readership.'

Unique users 25,246,936 (source: May ABCe)
News 020 7931 2000


TOP TIPS ... for pitching to The Telegraph website

Think video

'When pitching to journalists, offer them something that will work on the video content side - you can get two quite different pieces of coverage,' says Bhattacharya. 'Pitch through the correspondent on the paper, offering video as part of the story.'

Make time pressures work for you

'The reporters are perhaps under some of the biggest time-pressures of any journalists in the world,' says Deshmukh. 'If you know how to talk to The Telegraph about an interesting story in a way that is genuinely developed and packaged, it is very open to having that discussion.'

Make your news social media-savvy

'You can hope to reasonably get a story in during the course of the day when people are looking,' says Inmarsat external affairs V-P Chris McLaughlin. 'Embed press releases with charts, figures, photos and background hotlinks.'

Be serious

'It is a serious national newspaper so you need serious national news,' says Alex Aiken, director of comms at Westminster City Council.

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