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LOCAL MEDIA ROCKS
LMA President Nancy Lane
@localmediarocks • Nancy.email@example.com
Content Strategies Must Change
e have a lot to learn from the big online news
disruptors. They have an obsession with social
shares. They have strategies in place to engage
and grow their audience on sites other than those that they
own and operate. And they have dedicated serious resourc-
es to native and video. It's a winning strategy.
The disruptors are intensely focused on social media
when it comes to their core content strategy. Local media
companies are not. That needs to change.
This was crystal clear as we visited with companies such
as Mashable, Cosmopolitan.com and BuzzFeed during the
last two Innovation Missions.
Most local media executives are still focused on only
driving traffic to their own site. And while that is still the
ultimate goal, we must engage and grow audience on other
sites as well.
“Get over driving traffic just to your own web site,” said
Amy Odell, editor, Cosmopolitan.com, “We are engaging
with 11 million monthly unique visitors on Snapchat. And
we are now monetizing that audience. Many of those visi-
tors do not engage with us on our traditional sites. This is a
At Mashable, they have a group dedicated to emerg-
ing platforms. The Mashable Collective is charged with
"interacting with our community on the networks that they
are already living on," according to Jeff Petriello, the group's
“Instagram is an intimate way for us to engage with our
community online and offline,” said Petriello, “Follower
Friday is a fun weekly feature for us for example. We pick
someone from the Mashable community that is doing cool
Community challenges are one of Mashable’s most suc-
cessful initiatives on Instagram. They pick a topic and ask
readers to send in their photos. They then feature their top
ten on their own site. They sell lucrative sponsorship pack-
ages for all of these.
Mashable’s editorial strategy includes embedding Vine
videos with every post as well as real time coverage on Vine.
As for live events, they are using Snapchat in a big way.
“My suggestion to everyone in the local media space is to
use Vine in your local event coverage; embed them into all
stories,” said Petriello.
One of the top takeaways from last year’s IM came from
BuzzFeed. We deemed ‘shareabilty’ as the new KPI in that
report. It’s no longer new and local media companies need
to make this a top focus when it comes to content strategies.
“Shareable content is important to us,” said Odell,
“People share things that make them look smarter... that
show they care about what’s happening in the world.”
Increasingly Hearst is sharing more content across all
brands. “Why I gave up my $95,000 job to move to an island
and scoop ice cream” was so popular that just about every
Hearst magazine ran it online. The result was an amazing
Video was a hot topic during all of these visits as well.
“When it comes to video, humor and emotions are the
key,” said Odell, “ Viewers like to watch people interact
with things as opposed to talking heads. Video should be
viewable without sound so viewers can watch them on
We spent time at Tout during this year's IM and really
dove into how media companies are using video on both
the content and advertising side.
Tout is working with thousands of publishers from the
big brands (ESPN, Time, WSJ, Fox, etc.) to many smaller
companies. They offer a few different solutions all with
monetization in mind.
The big brands are routinely sold out when it comes to
video inventory so they are looking to extend their distribu-
tion to other media partners. Their content goes out to over
2,000 partner sites and the Tout system programmatically
inserts the video onto the appropriate pages on these sites.
The advertising unit is a pre-roll. The revenue is then shared
between the big publisher and the partners.
Perhaps more importantly, they also help publishers
create video themselves. They created a complete video
publishing platform that is free. The platform is cloud based
and nimble and includes a mobile video capture. With just
a few clicks, a reporter can capture and edit video from the
field. Then publish it in less than 30 seconds. The IM at-
tendees consistently ranked the Tout visit as one of the most
impactful for them in terms of actionable takeaways. Most
plan to start using the Tout platform in a very short period
of time. IM attendee Brendan King, CEO, Vendasta, had
his team start using it before the trip even ended. In just 24
hours, 28 of his staff members had downloaded the app.
To see how Tout can drive both traffic and revenue,
check out http://www.goerie.com/video-news.
Many IM attendees reported that they were spending
too much time and money producing high quality video
and the money wasn’t following. Some had abandoned
their video efforts. “High touch TV production video has no
correlation to the number of views,” said Tout CEO Michael
Downing, “Higher quality does not equal more views. It has
more to do with timeliness. There is also an enormous op-
portunity for crowdsourcing when it comes to video. Local
media companies should look to deputize people in their
At The McClatchy Company, they are rolling out new
print and digital products in partnership with the Stanford
Design School and video is a huge part of their strategy.
“We are realigning news flow across platforms,” said
CEO Pat Talamantes, “We’re investing more in video and
hired Andy Pergam from The Washington Post to head this
up for us. We are staffing this initiative aggressively. We
recently built an enterprise-wide video player. We expect
enhanced audience and revenue over time.”
The website redesign features two video players on each
page and this got the attention of IM attendees that were
hesitant to feature more than one in the past.
SEPARATE DIGITAL UNITS
Another change that we noticed at several companies
was the separation of duties from the legacy products and
the digital products.
Odell reports to the head of digital as opposed to Cos-
mopolitan editor Joanna Coles. There is some interaction
with the print team but not a lot. Odell has 25 people on her
digital editorial team. This allows them to run the .com as
a separate and disruptive business unit. They also have a
content studio that bridges sales and editorial.
Deseret Digital employed this strategy a number of years
ago. And their online audience growth has been skyrock-
eting ever since. IM attendees took note and are making
changes. At The Observer Group in Sarasota, Florida they
are hiring two news innovators "because our digital content
strategy must be different from our print strategy," said
Chief Digital Officer Emily Walsh, "We must tell stories in
different ways...and use video and social more effectively."
At Metroland Media they are making content changes as
well. "We are hiring two new people to just focus on native
and social," said Pam Laycock, SVP Strategy and Com-
munications, "And we like how Mashable and Hearst are
monetizing on sites other than their own."
"After visiting Mashable and Hearst we are changing our
focus," said Shannon Kinney, Founder and Client Success
Officer at Dream Local Digital, "This means building com-
munities on social sites and concentrating on shareable
"Building audience is different than journalism," said
Mitch Pugh, Executive Editor, The Post and Courier, "Outlets
like Desert News, which sent two executives on the Innova-
tion Mission, have figured this out, producing engaging
headlines like “22 songs Utahns love singing in the car”
that appeal to advertisers and readers alike. We saw similar
examples (though not purely native) from Hearst and Mash-
able, which create content from multiple departments and
don’t wholly rely on a traditional newsroom to build audi-
ence. As we look for ways to continue to draw new audienc-
es to our products, don’t be surprised to see more and more
content produced outside of the traditional newsroom."
Mashable’s Jeff Petriello during the 2015 Innovation Mission visit.
Nancy Cawley Lane writes a blog about disruption in local
media and her thoughts are definitely worth the read. Check it
out at https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/11309770
Content strategies must change as part of the trans-
formation process. Consider the following strategies
to accomplish this goal:
1. Be obsessed with social shares
2. Get comfortable engaging and monetizing your
audience on other sites besides your own
3. Invest in video – this requires dedicated re-
4. Experiment with emerging platforms such as
Snapchat and Instagram
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