Home' Local Media Today : June 2009 Contents An Official Publication of
Suburban Newspapers of America
Suburban Publisher is published by SNA, the only
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specifically represents the needs and interests of
suburban and community newspapers.
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media through leadership, education,
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advancement of high standards.
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SNA OFFICERS & DIRECTORS
Chairman of the Board
Stephen W. Parker
Recorder Community Newspapers
First Vice Chairwoman
Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Second Vice Chairman
Arizona Daily Star
Jon K. Rust
Holden Landmark Corporation
Immediate Past Chairman
Community Newspaper Holdings Inc .
Antelope Valley Press
American Community Newspapers LLC
Review Publishing Ltd Par tnership
East Bay Newspapers
Sound Publishing Inc.
Shaw Suburban Media
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SNA Foundation Executive Director
Classifed Avenue Director of Sales
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Kim Cole 610-345-0795 email@example.com
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Deb Shaw 610-793-2474; firstname.lastname@example.org
e-mail to email@example.com
Operations Manager, Bonnie Pitozzi
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For Olivia Garcia
#1Say ‘social networking’ and I
think of gargantuan Facebook
and MySpace. What’s the angle
for community media companies to target?
Actually, when I think of Facebook, I
think of my network of local family and
friends who are using it to their advantage
by sharing conversations and stories that
they deeply care about. It can be even fun
stuff, like the recent “25 Things About
Me.” I could easily see that as content
used for a local publication or a hyper
local web site. Why? Because it’s informa-
tion that someone cared enough to share
about themselves and to want to share
with the rest of the world. Many media
companies are beginning to understand
that social networking is a personal and
new way for community participants to
share their conversations with others.
#2SNA members publish print and
web sites in all types of markets
rural, urban, suburban, etc.
Are any markets better suited for social
The key is to know your community,
which specific niche audience you want to
go after. Doesn’t matter if they are rural,
urban, or suburban. What matters is to
understand their interests and create a
world for them to exchange their ideas and
conversations with each other.
#3Any advice for conceiving the
right networking theme?
Yes, you need to get out of the
office and talk to the community and dis-
cover their interests or needs. And under-
stand that what you create may evolve by
the audience and that’s OK. When we first
launched Bakotopia.com, for instance, we
thought it would become our local version
of Craigslist. But it quickly evolved into a
local entertainment, music and downtown
scene site. It was the people,
our community, who took
ownership of it, and created
it to fill a need that they saw
as seriously underserved in
our area. Once they connect-
ed, it took off. Next, be
ready to take risks. Our cur-
rent Bakersfield Voice is a
growth of the original
Northwest Voice, which
Northwest Bakersfield resi-
dents. Now the Bakersfield
Voice covers communities
throughout our city. A good amount of our
content still comes from the west side but
one area of growth is coming from the
Northeast part of town.
#3How many networks can exist
in any given market?
There are a number of net-
works that exist in our market but all seem
to serve different needs. Again find a need
that is not being met and figure out a way
to serve it.
#4What’s the start up mechanism?
Create a business plan and set
your metrics for success. Then
you need an evangelist or advocate who
fits the market you are trying to reach.
That person can help spread the gospel
and provide great direction in the planning
stages. You need a good product manager
who can also determine the steps to move
the conceptual idea to an actual product.
You need a Sales manager or executive
who can establish relationships with
advertisers who want to capture that mar-
#5How do you get people interest-
ed, joining, participating, etc?
Your advocate will play an
important role. They know how to reach
their audience and the best way to engage
them. You should hold mini or individual
meetings with stakeholders. They often
provide wonderful ideas on how to get the
project off the ground.
#6What are reasonable goals for
local media houses to set when
launching a new social network?
Name branding. Community participation
and awareness. Marketing and sales plan-
ning. Understand your staffing require-
#7What kind of business model
seems to work best? How do
you make money?
Our Bakotopia and Bakersfield Voice busi-
ness models are print and web. We rely on
both print and web advertising revenue.
For print, we run on a 50-50% advertising
and editorial ratio. We use TMC-model for
Voice while Bakotopia is printed through
an independent printer.
#8How do you staff for a social
network and what type of tech-
nology platform is needed? You
have an evangelist and you have second
and third-tier admins who are comprised
of trusted registered users who can help
moderate your web site. We launched ours
using our own Bakomatic platform but
there are several different platforms that
can make a difference. The key is offering
bells and whistles, such as blogging, twit-
ter feeds, you tube video, personal inbox-
es, that are clear and easy to use for user.
#9You’ve got numerous social
networks based out of your
media company. Can you iden-
tify top successes and what drove them?
Hindsight wisdom for others to learn
Bakotopia has an active user community.
They’re always on and encouraging new
visitors and they even police the site. You
need an evangelist and that person must
match the niche audience you are going
after. He or she can help you find the com-
munity and get them engaged. A lot of
these social networking sites do well with
local advertisers. The smaller businesses.
Be open. One social networking site you
create may work while another may not.
It’s the way of start-ups. Be daring and
willing to try new things.
Olivia Garcia is Vice President of Contetnt
at The Bakersfield Californian, bakers-
field.com. They currently have two social
networking sites, Bakotopia.com and the
Bakersfield Voice.com. Both have a print
Bakotopia.com was one of four best prac-
tice sites featured in the SNA
Foundation/Belden social networking
study. The full report is found at
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