On 10 July Sarah Hartley, Linda Broughton and I gathered with some Leeds hyperlocal types at the wonderful Tetley to chat over lunch about the Leeds local web scene and how Talk About Local and Carnegie UK Trust is slowly improving the map of the UK hyperlocal web with Localweblist.net.
At the lunch were Jeremy Morton, Ed Carlisle and Lucy Potter from South Leeds Life, Luke Beaumont from Holt Park Today, John Baron of West Leeds Life, Fran Etherington from About My Area LS7/8 and Emma Bearman of Armley Good Stuff and the ‘now notorious’ Armley Tourist Board.
We talked through the approach Talk About Local is taking to fill in blank bits of the map on Localweblist, cleaning out dead sites etc and trailing some desk based exercises such as with Wakefield that I presented to the group.
It was a good discussion, the mood was upbeat about the hyperlocal scene in Leeds and the following points were made:
in general it was easier to reach audiences now than it had been a few years ago, especially as ‘everyone, their grandmother and their dog are on Facebook’.
it is now possible to sell online advertising products to smaller local businesses, as long as they understood your product, local businesses were now thinking about their trade coming from online sources and how people found them online.
however small businesses would still only pay a fraction of what they would in print, hence South Leeds Life’s print publication re-purposing website content.
it was easier to sell ad space if there was a genuine community angle and people though they were supporting community endeavour.
but no one was getting rich with this model.
it was hard to recruit a commission based sales person – sales weren’t writers core skills and a hyperlocal site won’t have enough volume to solely employ someone. Although one site had chanced upon someone who liked doing sales with a community good angle.
there was a suggestion that Leeds community sites could employ a shared sales person.
the recent BBC initiative towards hyperlocals was welcomed – the group thought the BBC should offer something concrete such as training days for local web people which would attract local writers and publishers.
there were good local relationships with the BBC.
At a time of doom and gloom for local media I was struck by just how professionally upbeat this group was and by just how much is happening in Leeds. I wonder if Leeds can claim to be displacing Birmingham as a sometime hyperlocal capital of the UK?
We’ll host another event in Durham or Leeds in the Autumn – if you would like to come along drop us a line.
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