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#WEFHamburg: Successes and failures of hyperlocal close World Editors Forum

October 8th, 2010Posted by in Editors' pick, Events

An open and up-front session to close the 2010 World Editors Forum, with publishers discussing their hyperlocal web projects: the successes, the failures and the lessons.

And that’s just how Bart Brouwers, managing editor for hyperlocal online at Telegraaf Media Group, likes it. Browers, who is responsible for de Telegraaf’s four hyperlocal pilot sites in the Netherlands, urged editors and journalists to be open about their work, to discuss what they’re doing with their projects and ask for feedback without fear of sharing ideas with “competitors”: “The more I tell, the more I get back.”

De Telegraaf is trialling a range of sites: two aggregation websites, one a mix of editorial and commerical content and another community news site. The newspaper group isn’t just approaching hyperlocal as a something that fits into one definition and format: “What’s hyperlocal to me, might not be hyperlocal to my neighbour.”

Brouwers gave some practical advice for publishers planning to launch community sites and his full slides can be seen below. Perhaps most important, he said, is keeping things personal. If you want to reach a specific local audience, you need to be hyperpersonal and hypersocial too.

On the other side of the coin was fellow Brouwers’ fellow speaker Roman Gallo – five days out of his role as CEO of PPF Media, which launched the Nase Adresa hyperlocal project last year. Nase Adresa, after an initial pilot, had been given the green light for a combination 1,000 websites, 89 news cafes and 150 weekly newspapers.

But in August it was announced that Nase Adresa would shut, despite its promise. Gallo was given the order to close everything to do with project in four days. (More on this from Journalism.co.uk soon).

Gallo could however share some of the learnings from the short-lived, but seemingly successful hyperlocal venture:

  • the goal of creating a team involving editorial, sales and a cafe with “no walls between them” was a must, but Gallo said the difficulty of getting people to straddle these roles was underestimated;
  • training was crucial: older, experienced journalists were used, but they had multimedia skills and understood why the project was necessary and good;
  • coffee shops were a key element to the success of this project, adding financial support and a great marketing tool;
  • for newsroom cafes you have to make a decision is it a newsroom with a cafe or a cafe with a newsroom?
  • realise that having a physical space, the cafe, can give advertisers a unique offering and a physical presence.

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