Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Building Your Own Community Site!

You are a passionate community member who keeps involved and up to date with everything going on in and with your community.  The only problem is that most people are unaware of a lot of things happening because your local news / community source is missing those events or doesn't have the time to cover it.  So how do you fix this problem and get the community updates and news to the people who want it?  That is when someone needs to step up and create their own community news site!  In the past most people would have thought this type of ideal to be impossible, but now with all the new innovations it is very possible!  The first thing you have to do is figure out what is needed to start this type of news outlet and how you will approach and run the news outlet.

More people than you think run into the above situation and get to the final questions of what and how on building a local news outlet, but get stuck there and stop.  Most people think that it is just going to be too much work, or that they will put all this time into the outlet and get nothing in return. This could be the case if you don't know the right answers to those vital questions - what is needed to start / how are you going to run it.  This is where I come in....to answer the questions and give all of those people the hope and assurance that it can be done and they can do it!

What is Needed?

1) First you need to figure out what platform you will use to distribute your news.  Most likely you will choose an online platform since print is slowly dying out and the costs keep going up.  So once you figure out that you want to be an online community news source you must figure out if you are going to pay someone to build you a custom website, are you going to just use one of the blogging platforms, are you going to use one of the social platforms, or are you going to join an existing network.

2) Once you pick which online source you are going to use then you need to figure out if you are going to create and maintain this outlet alone or are you going to enlist some help from friends, business partners, or fellow community members.  Figuring this out in the beginning will really help in the planning of maintaining the site.

3)  Now that you have your platform and team members you are going to need to figure out if you are going to run this site out of the goodness of your heart or would you like to benefit financially as well.  This will also help determine if you picked the right platform as some are more inclined to making revenue.  You will also need to decide how much revenue you need to either make it worth your time or keep the site going.

4)  Next you need to make sure you have the equipment needed to cover and report on certain happenings and events.  Mostly you will need some way to take pictures (possibly video) and a way to get notes and/or write a story on location.  Most of these are very low cost and easy to come by.

5) The last major "Need" on my list is motivation!  A lot of people think it is a great idea to do this or go in very strong, but over time stop producing.  You need to make sure that you have the motivation to get things started strong and to keep up with your outlet and to put the hardship in to make a good news source.  Now in the beginning you will have more work, but as time passes it becomes less work and comes easier to manage.

How to Run / Manage your News Outlet .

1)  First you need to figure out the winning combination to reach your full audience potential.  This can be done by a combination of using your own site / social media / newsletters / connecting to bigger sites and so on.  I would recommend to start out by building and promoting your own site and then pushing those stories out to different social media sites.   Make sure to try out different combinations, because different outlets work better for different communities.

2)  Next you will want to make a plan!  Figure out how many hours a week you want to dedicate to your news site and what type of events / happenings you would like to cover.  This is important because if you don't set up a plan you can start spending too much time or too little time working on your news site and both have effects on your viewers and you as a person.

3)  Make sure to have a revenue plan in place and execute on a monthly basis.  In the beginning you will want to build up your content / viewership / networking / and promoting.  Once you have a good readership built then obtaining advertising / sponsorships /  paid classifieds and so on will not be that difficult.  Make sure to set sales goals and set a revenue number you want to hit monthly to make sure it stays worth it!

Now there are many things to do when setting up your own local news outlet / site and many more to carry out while running and managing the site.  Above I have listed many important points and tips that will help out a lot in the beginning.  If you are looking for more help / tips make sure to check out OurTown.com or email us at Support@OurTown.com.

Your OurTown Hero,


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Future of News !

Listeners of the World,

Today I woke up and immediately opened up my laptop to find out our voting results on the many issues and candidates up for election in my state.  Then I proceeded to grab my iPad2 and BlackBerry to head into work.  On the way in I continued to check the morning news on my BlackBerry to find out the what was going on in my city besides the local elections.  Once at work I opened up my iPad2 to check out my daily alerts to see what was going on in the Tech community and to see if there was anything really neat happening.  Then I turned to my computer and sent a friend a link about the voting results.  To say the least things in the news and information industry have changes a whole lot over the past decade.  The real question now is how are they going to change over the next decade!

Many people have projected and predicted how the news industry will evolve - Newspapers will die out, news will go hyper-local, news will become more social, online video will rule the day.....but, what will come true, and what will just been seen as a fade when we look back.  I would like to think some of the predictions are not too hard to figure out if they will come true or not.  Newspapers have seen a steady decline over the past decade and have been scrambling for years to come up with new ways to compete, but I think everyone (even me) can see the end of Newspapers is near.  More and more people are preaching social this and social that and it seems like everyone belongs to a social network, so why not have news become more social?  Also, online video is huge and not to mention everywhere, so why wouldn't news become more online video centric?

All and all it seems the future of news is moving more online, social, and video centric everyday.  With more online news sites popping up, and with YouTube and Facebook being two of the biggest sites on the web, I think that we will soon see an online video social news movement!  Only time will tell if this is all true or if the these notions are just silly.  I for one believe that news will have to become more social and video centric and that is why at least with our online news site we are moving in this direction.  The fun part of actually seeing the next step with news is yet to come, and I for one cannot wait!

Your OurTown Hero,