How two Michigan Radio stories found their way onto 'The Rachel Maddow Show'

Dec 12, 2011

If you happened to catch "The Rachel Maddow Show" Thursday night, a Michigan Radio article in its raw form made a guest appearance.

A segment during the show focused on Michigan's Emergency Manager Law — state-appointed officials who have complete control over the cities or school districts they take over. Emergency managers are currently in control of four cities and one school district in Michigan.

During the segment, Maddow used two Michigan Radio articles to make her point. The first was a November 21 post and the second was a piece from last Monday. You can watch the full segment here (Michigan Radio cameos at 5:00, and 5:57).

So how did Michigan Radio get national exposure not once but twice? 

By getting in front of a story on the Web (and doing so consistently), Michigan Radio solidified itself as a news source for this story. That dedication, bolstered by strong editorial practices, opened the door for getting noticed through search.

A dedicated digital news presence

Michigan Radio is doing a great job covering this controversial story, deploying reporters to produce radio stories as the news develops. What's important is that the station also covered this story in a meaningful way on the Web. By generating original Web content on a consistent basis, Michigan Radio made itself digitally relevant on a news topic that quickly gained national attention. In turn, Michigan Radio reached new audiences while continuing to deliver quality stories to its listeners.

So, what exactly is Michigan Radio doing right on the Web? First, they're not just taking radio stories and posting them. Instead, the station is creating content -- whether it originated as a radio piece or not -- and making it work for the online audience. Here are four different ways Michigan Radio covered this story on the Web: 

1. Wrote exclusively for the Web audience: 7 things to know about Michigan's emergency manager law

2. Aggregated from another source: Michigan residents lose confidence in Snyder, survey shows

3. Updated to reflect timely news: Muskegon Heights school board asks for an emergency manager

4. Built out from a radio story:  State of Detroit: Will the city need an emergency manager?

Winning Google News

There are technical steps needed to be optimized for Google News. And you actually have to submit your site to Google for inclusion (you can do that here). But even though the editor of Google News is an algorithm, editorial quality is essential if you want to get in -- and win -- searches. You have to follow Google's content quality guidelines -- which include timely reporting, original content,  editorial authority, accountability and user-friendliness. Michigan Radio produced quality news content in a timely manner, demonstrating authority over a local news topic. That's why Michigan Radio is winning a lot of Google searches on this subject, why it's able to reach an audience outside of its listeners, and likely why "The Rachel Maddow Show" found some of its stories.