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Hyperlocals: You Are Not Alone

by: Nicole Lyons, on Aug 25, 2011 in Publisher Tips & Tricks

Wow, I’ve been really inspired lately by some excellent articles and posts around the web that I feel truly represent my experience as a (former) hyperlocal blogger.

A lot of the discussion about hyperlocal media that I have seen to date has focused on whether or not hyperlocal publishers are able to uphold the standards of hard-core journalism: can they write well?  Do they have a background in reporting? Is their information reliable? The underlying accusation is that many hyperlocal sites are not run by professional journalists, or journalists who become too overwhelmed with the day-to-day business of running their site to maintain a standard of journalistic perfection, and therefore are dismissed by those leading the discussion as not having any real value to the community.

Okay, for those hyperlocal websites that are an extension of local newspapers, or for those sites who do truly strive to be respected for their journalistic integrity, I can see why it is important to represent the journalism community well.  In no way am I knocking the skill and discipline required to produce journalistic excellence, or the pride a publisher should rightfully feel about their great work.

However, in my own experience, and based on the extensive network of hyperlocal bloggers and community website publishers I have discovered through my work here at LYM, there is a lot more to ‘hyperlocal’ than news.  There’s a wonderful diversity of websites and blogs that are valued by the communities they serve for what they offer, whether it be helpful information about navigating life in that community, or their perspective as a parent, or foodie, or realtor, or nightlife-lover in that community.  Each of these hyperlocals is stepping forward and sharing their voice, online, with the rest of the community, even if that voice isn’t always grammatically correct. And I would argue that the audiences in the community they are able to engage, no matter how small, respect and trust these hyperlocals as friends, or neighbors, whose flaws might even make them more accessible and endearing. That’s powerful stuff.

But, whether focused on local news or where to have a birthday party, there is a common thread that connects all us hyperlocals: our passion for the community we are trying to serve.  That’s why I was so inspired by this article; I think it really illustrates the dedication hyperlocals have to what is, by all accounts, an all-consuming labor of love – regardless of their sites’ focus.  I was nodding and smiling the whole way through: so much of each publisher’s story resonated with me.  I’d love to hear your feedback on it: “Hyperlocal Heroes: A firsthand look at how some members of the burgeoning roster of hyperlocal news Web sites do their jobs.”

The other article was one I stumbled upon thanks to Twitter, and is a post by a hyperlocal blogger across the pond, in Birmingham, UK. ( I mean – we’re everywhere!!)  I was floored by how similar his experience as a hyperlocal blogger in a totally different kind of community – in a totally different country — was to mine.  “Hyperlocal ‘Til I Die” is a humorous and no-nonsense survival guide, of sorts, for the non-journalist hyperlocal blogger: I think the title of the post pretty much says it all!

Both of these articles provided me a refreshing break from the focus on local news and journalism that dominates much of today’s hyperlocal discussion.  They illustrate many of the challenges and rewards that all hyperlocal publishers experience at one point or another, and underscore the passion for our communities that drives us all forward.  For so many of us who have or heads down and work day-in-and-day-out on our hyperlocal labors of love, I hope it’s comforting to be reminded that you’re not alone.

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0 Comments

  1. by: Clay Graham, On September 27

    LocalNicky, great article and I think its totally right on. We think local voices are not only important they are very valuable because they are honest. Hyperlocal is local advertising, its just a yummier more trustworthy form of local advertising than what the media giants can offer. We wrote a blog post about this called “Why We Trust Local Voices” http://wp.me/p1P0ek-p. Hope you guys will check it out. Cant wait to meet your tribe at Street Fight Summit! http://streetfightmag.com/conference-2011/

    Reply

    • by: LocalNicky, On September 28

      Thanks Clay, looks like great minds think alike 🙂 Loved your post and appreciate the fact that companies like yours are offering tools that make it even easier for those who have the enthusiasm for their community to blog about it to do so effectively! (http://www.welocally.com/wordpress/)
      LocalLibby and Dick O’Hare will be at the conference and will keep an eye out for you guys!

      Reply

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