Rolling Stone’s Content Strategy Fail

Poor Rolling Stone. Even when they win they lose. They have the hottest new story this morning, which is quite a feat when news cycles are so fast and there’s no shortage of competing stories from the gulf oil spill to the World Cup to worldwide flooding. When news broke about General Stanley McChrystal’s comments critical of President Obama’s administration and the United States’ plan for Afghanistan it was the opportunity for Rolling Stone to prove their relevance and prowess as world events journalists. That is if you could find the story.

After advancing the story to other media outlets, Rolling Stone failed to grasp a fundamental concept in how people seek out news today: They don’t turn first to the newsstand but to their search engine. didn’t even have the article online until late morning today, well after other media sites had posted passages and at least one outlet (Politico) had posted the entire thing as a PDF! (The full article is now available on

So while all those sites were getting traffic from people searching “General Stanley McChrystal Afghanistan Report” or “General Stanley McChrystal Quotes,” the Stone was nowhere to be seen.

Note to Rolling Stone (and any other “traditional” media outlet struggling to hold on): It’s called Content Strategy and you need to get one fast, lest the moss begin to gather on your slow, slow business.

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