Habits of Profitable Local News Sites

What makes a local web strategy successful? It’s more that just growing page views, Facebook fans and winning industry accolades. Successful Newspaper, TV, Radio…and hyper local sites…. all have one thing in common:

  1. Lead by one person who has the absolute authority to do what it takes… to turn a profit and grow share. This one person will make or break your digital effort. Hire the wrong one, and you’ll fall behind slowly and surely. Having more than one person leading the digital charge, or leadership buy committee… never works.

Let’s dig deeper into how these winning sites operate. Since we monitor and work with a variety of local media websites in markets both large & small, we have a ton of experience to pull from. Here’s our collection of web revenue ‘best practices’ from the past 6 months. Ignore these at your own peril.

Lead by Well-Rounded Business Savvy Executive (just like traditional media business)

  • This leader equally serves 2 masters: consumer and advertiser
  • Executive in charge has personal income and job security tied to financial performance of site
  • Run site as profit first business, just like the newspaper or broadcast property
  • Run digital efforts like a start-up business
  • Think like an entrepreneur…NOT just a manager or journalist
  • Leverage power of Print, Broadcast and feet-on-street relationships to beat online-only companies
  • Borrow tactics from local, online revenue leaders (Google, Reach Local, Yellow Pages)
  • Hard news & data as commodity loss-leader. Subsidize with soft news, info & services

Lean & Efficient with Content, Platform, Process

  • Newsroom personnel proficient in search, social, mobile and video
  • Aggregation & curation. Do what you do best, point to the rest
  • 24/7 news cycle via Twitter, smart phones & other aps/tools
  • Convert personnel to multi-media journalists, spending majority of time in field.
  • Laptop edits, GPS and 4G upload ability
  • Reduce or eliminate expensive conference and research budgets
  • Tap outside content development:  feeds, blogs, out of work journalists, digital stringers
  • Use optimized data as excellent traffic driver, convert portion of that traffic to revenue

Understanding of Advertiser Need & Interest

  • Enabling local commerce is priority #1 for sales departments
  • Advertising presented as valuable content, not an interruption
  • Offer agency-like services to local marketplace. Local & regional advertising networks
  • Reps gather local market intel via client needs analysis.
  • Replace 3rd party research w/home-grown tactics ( client needs analysis )
  • Local business education via Web 101 workshops
  • Mix self-serve and outbound tele-sales into traditional sales efforts

Review, Re-negotiate or Replace

  • Review every expense: CMS, Apps, hosting, other content vendor offerings
  • Eliminate internal poison. Terminate naysayers and foot draggers.
  • Re-negotiate often, or replace vendor services with cheaper/better alternatives
  • Watch faster cycle of vendor offerings. Leverage falling prices and better functionality
  • WordPress as multi-purpose CMS, themes, plug-ins, widgets

Online Inventory Management and Pricing

  • Web inventory monitored by commissioned sales exec for maximum ROI
  • Offer hi-impact ad units & sponsorships. Reduce ad clutter.
  • Reduction or removal of remnant & third party ad networks
  • Easy to understand, flat-fee package pricing & features
  • Offer social, mobile, database, search & video benefits to client
  • Leverage premium value of key day-parts & section fronts with higher prices
  • Reduce or eliminate CPM & CPC selling
  • Sell majority of  inventory to local/direct clients. Price based on supply & demand

Non-traditional Revenue Streams

  • Charge license fees for editorial, photo & video. Act as a regional ‘associated press’
  • Charge license fees to local TV stations for HD video captured by your staff
  • Rev-share, transaction fees, affiliate programs & e-commerce
  • Marketing services for local business

Sales Management Structure & Process

  • Mandatory budgets for Sales management and reps. (bonus & penalty)
  • Managers lead by example, not from behind desk
  • Employ hybrid model, not separate staff for digital
  • Eliminate 3rd party direct sales to clients. Ex: 4-legged calls w/consultants or NRS type companies.

Digital & Multi-Media Training

  • CEO/Manager training for digital comes first. You can’t manage what you don’t understand
  • General, all staff training. Check for compliance via online proficiency test
  • Custom training: sales, programming, newsroom, marketing, promotion & webmaster

Sales and Marketing Collateral

  • SEO optimized- online media kits. Easy to find ADVERTISE HERE link on home page
  • PDF & print one-sheets: brief, well designed and focused on client benefits, not site stats
  • 3 basic packages always ready…based on client inquiry
  • iPads loaded with sales collateral and contract forms
  • Ability to take payment via credit card…using special app on iPhone or Android
  • In-house system to continually monitor competition and ad placements

Offer Local Advertisers What They Want

  • Good looking, functional business website
  • Get found in Google via search engine optimization
  • Customer email database, Facebook fans, Twitter followers
  • Local business video profiles; online infomercial
  • Ad-vertorial & services that boosts local business SEO
Is your Newspaper, TV, Radio or local media company doing most of the above? If not, we can help you get up to speed….real fast. (That’s if you’re really ready to win) Tire kickers need not apply. We’re known for our direct, blunt and highly effective methods of online revenue development. We say NO often.
So…. are you ready to get serious about online success? Contact Mel Taylor Media here.
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