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A Survivors’ Guide to Hyperlocal Media

This report provides hyperlocal media startups and publishers a practical and useful guide to making their service a success.

This report provides hyperlocal media startups and publishers a practical and useful guide to making their service a success. The editors of North London hyperlocal Kentishtowner share what they have learned from running a blog-turned-award-winning daily publication across three platforms.

Key Findings

  • It’s better to set prices for advertising high and build in plenty of room to bargain.
  • Once a readership is established, consider turning your hyperlocal web service into a standalone newsprint publication.
  • Embrace the DIY ethic: If you’re not prepared to multi-task, long-term sustainability of a hyperlocal media title is going to be tough.
  • Scale is the only way to make the project truly sustainable.

The idea of producing A Survivors’ Guide to Hyperlocal Media suggests that publishers have a range of opportunities available to make their service thrive, however, it also suggests that this form of publishing is in a state of peril.

New hyperlocal services are emerging in the UK every year, providing a wide variety of news, information, opinion and campaigning. And audience demand for local, authentic content is growing, driven by the rapid take up of location-aware smartphone and tablet devices.

However, despite this proliferation, professional and semi-professional publishers find it hard to generate sufficient revenue to pay for the costs of content production. Sustaining a hyperlocal website can be extremely challenging and Nesta research has shown that there is not currently a viable advertising market for hyperlocal media.

What compounds the difficulty for an emerging sector is that hyperlocal media is, by nature, a fragmented landscape. Publishers currently have no real forum or community to openly share best practice.

Nesta is continuing to support this nascent community in the UK to come together and to share information about what works and, importantly, what doesn’t. The Kentishtowner website is one of the UK’s best hyperlocal media sites. Its publishers, Tom and Stephen, have experienced the challenges, opportunities and satisfaction of providing their community with a first class public service during the last two years. We, therefore, hope that their experiences, detailed in this report, offer all hyperlocal media publishers a practical and useful guide to making their own service as successful as it deserves to be.

Authors
Tom Kihl and Stephen Emms