Sean Polay Joins Ottaway Newspapers

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By: Jay DeFoore

After leading the Providence (R.I.) Journal’s Projo.com for six years, most recently as director of online operations, Sean Polay has joined Ottaway Newspapers as director of Internet audience development.

Polay says 75% of his new job entails figuring out innovative ways to drive traffic to Ottaway’s more than a dozen Web sites. “Our newspapers already have great content,” Polay says, “so it’s a question of how you accent it and strategies you employ for getting it out in front of readers.”

The remaining 25% of his job is on the marketing side, where he will lead Ottaway?s search engine optimization efforts through both paid and organic search initiatives. Polay says Ottaway is currently seeking to hire a marketing manager who will take over the SEO project when hired.

Polay, who helped Projo.com win the 2005 EPpy Award for general excellence, says Ottaway is in the early stages of revamping most of its Web sites, which he admits is progressing on an “aggressive rollout schedule.”

The first redesigned site to go live is PoconoRecord.com in Stroudsburg, Pa. Polay says the site is a rough template of what the others will have, although he says each site will have the ability to customize certain features for their local audience.

Ottaway recently convened a three-day conference of its online editors at its headquarters in upstate New York. Polay says one of the main challenges the online editors face is figuring out how to involve the entire newsroom when resources are limited.

Polay said one solution is to figure out “how do we automate national stories to allow resources to focus on local content.”

Ottaway’s core focus is on local news, and Polay says the parent company takes a consultative, rather than top-down, approach to managing its local properties.

“The corporate edicts here are few and far between,” he says.

Polay remains in his post on the board of the New England New Media Association (NENMA), and will organize a multimedia breakout training session for members in October.

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