Looking for recipes and more for your newspaper website? Check this out.

by Kevin Slimp, September 2009

Looking for recipes and more for your newspaper website? Check this out.
Wendy MacDonald, with Family Features, has been after me for years to take a look at their products for newspapers. I’ve seen their booth at dozens of newspaper conferences over the past three or four years, and I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of free content for papers. However, it wasn’t until yesterday that I truly appreciated the value of their offerings.


For those unfamiliar with Family Features, they provide free editorial content spanning a variety of themes. Materials are developed in conjunction with nationally recognized sponsors and can be used as provided or customized to meet your needs. Basically, they provide stories and other material related to food, lifestyle, gardening and other topics.


How do they make their money, you ask? They include names and products by sponsors including American Heart Association, Nestlé and General Mills, among others. Imagine product placement, like they have in movies, in papers and you have the idea.


Obviously, their products aren’t for every newspaper. I certainly understand that many papers wouldn’t be comfortable with content that includes product promotion.


After researching FamilyFeatures.com on my own, I learned that their material can be found in a wide variety of print and online outlets including dailies, weeklies, newspapers and magazines, free and paid, suburban, metro and regional. Over 6,000 editors have registered to use their materials.

Yesterday, I spent part of the afternoon on the phone discussing products being developed by Family Features. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a look at online content already available from this group. Here are just a few:


Automatically Updated HTML Feed

Imagine content that automatically updates itself on your Web site. You designate the area and page(s). This means you can create pages for this content with room for ads that you sell. You select content from three areas: Food & Recipes (my favorite), Home & Lifestyles and Lawn & Garden. After the initial setup, which takes just a few minutes, the only time you’ll spend on these pages will be to get new recipes and upload your own ads. And, for those savvy designers, there is an XML version that gives you even great flexibility.


HTML Pages

Family Features offers HTML versions of their content and recipes, which you can place on your own site. By having the material already saved in HTML format, you can create pages on your own Web site without spending hours on layout and design.


Niche Newspaper Sites

These are “camera ready” pages ready to place on your Web site. With your banner in its normal position at the top of the screen, it looks like your staff has spent days creating these attractive and informative sites. Related to the areas mentioned earlier (Food & Recipes, Home & Lifestyles and Lawn & Garden), you choose the sites you want to use and place the material directly on your pages.


Videos

Videos are available that can be embedded directly onto your Web pages. They are hosted on servers at Family Features, so they don’t take up valuable space on your server. By simply placing scripts on your pages (Don’t worry. Your Web guru will know how to do this), you will have recipes and regular feature videos (The Blue Bunny Kitchen is a lot of fun) to use on your site. As an added bonus, most videos have print content that go with them. This means you can include a food column in your paper and point readers to your Web site to see a video related to a recipe in the column.


As I mentioned, there is no cost for any of this. After a quick online registration, you’ll be downloading and using Family Feature’s content in your newspaper and on your Web site. Honestly, I think you’ll have to see this to believe it for yourself. For more information, or to see samples for yourself, visit editors.familyfeatures.com and click on the link for “Web Solutions” on the left sidebar.