All of these examples are replicable or adaptable for other news organizations, and we hope by sharing their successes, we can help inspire other small news businesses across the industry. We believe that peer learning is at the core of a successful news business, and that communities — including the LION membership — are strongest when everyone can be a student and a teacher.
Check out our full list of finalists — winners will be announced on Oct. 22 during a virtual awards ceremony, which is free for anyone to attend. (RSVP here!)
Here are technology and revenue ideas you can try at your news organization:
- Create a way for cash-strapped local businesses to advertise.
Detour Detroit launched its Keep Detroit Local initiative to help small businesses advertise during the pandemic. For every current or new Detour member who signs up at certain levels, Detour Detroit donates a free ad (normally valued at $200) to local entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders. “We saw our community of local entrepreneurs struggling,” says Ashley Woods Branch, founder and CEO. “Keep Detroit Local helped us grow total membership numbers by 30% and more than double our monthly recurring membership revenue during COVID-19, while providing more than 60 free ads to local entrepreneurs.”
2. Launch an in-house marketing agency.
Richland Source created Source Brand Solutions, a digital marketing agency that provides a platform to amplify the voice of business in the local market. Messaging is at the core and SBS builds around that foundation. “Source Brand Solutions has transitioned from an ad department for a local publisher into a full marketing agency that can offer a suite of services that may or may not include the publishing side of Richland Source,” wrote Richland Source Editor Larry Phillips. “This allows a broader option of solutions for its clients.”
3. Create interactive products that update throughout a news cycle.
The Montana Free Press launched an interactive election guide, updated regularly throughout the election season, to provide voters with a one-stop shop for reliable information, including how and where to vote, information on candidates, visualized state and federal campaign finance data, and curated links to media coverage. The tech stack, which is open source, is available here on GitHub, and makes it possible for a single staffer to manage. “The availability of this resource drives significant organic traffic to our website during primary and general election season and is used by voters, activists, and campaigns to help better understand the election landscape,” wrote John Adams, executive director and editor.
by Kelsey Ryan, Lion Publishers