What have we learned about managing a WordPress powered, hyper-local news and info website since 2011? The following is a list of best practices. Ignore them at your own peril.
WordPress is the best online publishing platform.
Now serving 30% of the world’s websites. Even 3rd party companies that claim to specialize in Broadcast or Newspaper websites, borrow heavily from the modular, open source nature of WordPress. While WIX and Squarespace may look interesting, we recommend you just stick with the self-hosted version of WordPress. See WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
No if’s, ands or buts about this one. If you want to properly cover a market with news & info, ya gotta live there. In market. Importing a journo or VJ to produce and edit news is not recommended. Home grown is best. They need to have real skin in the game. Outside journos are more likely to throw an editorial stink bomb from the next town over. Locals are better suited to make tough, editorial decisions. Example: Should we expose the Mayor’s potential conflict?
Hyper-Local News Coverage Footprint.
One of newspaper’s (and radio’s) greatest strengths, is ironically, one of it’s biggest weaknesses. Nothing worse for a small business to waste money on reaching consumers not in their target geography or preferred zip codes. Our research shows that very few care about issues from neighboring towns. Radio and Newspaper has a relatively broad reach. A double-edged sword. In may cases, Internet-based marketing, via hyper-local news & info, can do a better job here.
Picking the right coverage footprint is critical. Sometimes it’s the whole town. Sometimes, if large enough, it’s just a neighborhood. Choose wisely.
Hyper-Local Business Models for News.
Display banner ads are but one of many revenue generators to consider. Banners have strengths and limitations.
Top Benefits of Display Banner Ads:
- Message Awareness
#1 Limitation of Display Banner Ads:
- Poor click-thru rate if offer, design, or messaging is weak
- Poor ROI if AD placement is weak
Pricing of Ads. Are you pricing banners using a CPM model? Yikes. For the CPM model to work, the site needs zillions of page-views. Over time, the CPM model had crumbled. It’s a race to the bottom as AD inventory has skyrocketed.
Basic Advertising Economics 101: over-supply of available Ad inventory with limited demand, places downward pressure on ad pricing.
Flat fee is better, especially for smaller sites with passionate readership. Most Mom and Pops will not take the time to understand page-views, unique visitors and CPM’s. Sell them in THEIR language. Flat fee.
What business are you REALLY in? Stop thinking that you’re in the NEWS business. There is no such thing. Rather, you’re in the AUDIENCE AGGREGATION, STORY TELLING, INFO SHARING and RETAIL BOOSTING business. News is purely the bait needed to fuel the business.
Blasphemy. Shame. Horror. How dare I disparage the News industry like that. Relax. Don’t get your panties in a bunch. News gathering and journalism is more important than ever, but it doesn’t drive the bus.