HuffPo’s Arianna Huffington tells Pierre Omidyar how to increase clicks — and it’s not how you think

We can all agree that Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post (wonder where she got the name?), knows a thing or two about capturing the eyeballs of wealthy readers and making them stick.

So, how does she do it? Good news. Yep. That’s what Huffington said when she stopped by Silicon Valley to chat with old friend and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar in front of a few hundred close friends at the Omidyar Network’s annual executive forum.

“I think putting the spotlight on what is working is a huge obligation,” Huffington told the do-gooders from around the world assembled at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose. “We need to do everything we can to experience these better angels in our nature.”

Talking to billionare Omidyar up on a stage, Huffington said emphasizing good news is exactly what she’s done at the 8-year-old Huffington Post. For instance, she said, she launched a section none-to-subtly called “Good News” to make a place for all that’s right with the world.

Phew. I was afraid she was going to say that she was emphasizing good news with the string of HuffPo headlines along the lines of this one:

Anyway, Huffington said the Good News section was good news for HuffPo’s unique visitors, or UVs as those in the Web business say, explaining the section draws “five million UVs a month.”

But it’s not the clicks that are important, Huffington added. Moving the world in a positive direction is the whole reason behind recognizing what works.

“The reason around doing that,” she said, “is to help good things that are happening to scale.”

News organizations that live by “if it bleeds, it leads” have it all wrong, she said. For instance, HuffPo set up discussions at the national political conventions in 2012 to start a conversation about what to do about creating more jobs.

Not only was it a heck of a conversation, but after hearing it Goldman Sachs, which could use a little good news of its own after playing a major role in crashing the U.S. economy, approached The Huffington Post with a sponsorship deal.

“That was a seven figure deal,” she said.

Are you listening mainstream media outlets?

Huffington and Omidyar, who funds the Omidyar Network, a powerhouse firm that invests in non-profits and for-profit organizations creating a social good, had what’s often called a wide-ranging talk before the crowd of executives running social-good outfits.

For instance, Huffington also had some advice for all of us, which amounted to: Chill out. She said organizations should incorporate training in mindfulness and stress-relief into their operations.

Stress-free people make better decisions, Huffington said, which is better for the bottom line.

“This is not new-agey, California, woo-woo stuff,” she said.

She has buckled down on herself, she said, after a recent fall brought on by exhaustion. She still struggles with keeping her work life and home life in balance but she is doing much better.

“It’s enabled me to make better decisions,” she said, “to be wiser about people.”

And at HuffPo HQ there are sleep pods, ala Google, Omidyar pointed out.

True, Huffington said, though at first employees were hesitant to stretch out in the middle of the work day.

“Now they are full,” she said. “The other day I was walking by and I saw two people walking out of one. Whatever it takes to recharge. Just don’t tell HR.”

Your secret is safe with us, Arianna.

(File photo by the Associated Press)




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