So What Makes You So Special? How One Hyperlocal Publisher Stands Out In A Crowd …

by: Elizabeth Harrington, on Jul 10, 2012 in Hyperlocal Publishing, Publisher Tips & Tricks

We often hear from our publisher partners, who are longtime pillars within the communities they serve, that they feel frustrated by the media ‘big guys’ who are setting up shop in their markets.  Yet one Local Yokel Media publisher partner, Dave Zornow of Nyack News & Views, points out what he believes makes hyperlocal sites like his special, and puts all hometown publishers ahead of the ‘big guys’ when it comes to growing a  loyal, engaged local audience.

Dave Zornow says:

As you know, we compete daily with three corporate giants who are trying to make their name in Hyperlocal: Gannett’s website, the online presence of the Journal News; AOL’s  and, most recently, Cablevision’s Newsday rollout in Rockland and Westchester. So, how do we distinguish ourselves when surrounded by well-armed competition?

It’s actually pretty easy. We zig when they zag and focus on putting the “hyper” in hyper local. Here’s a recent example.

Each week we publish a column by Bill Batson, a very talented local artist and essayist. The Nyack Sketch Log features an illustration of a local landmark or significant building in our community accompanied by a essay written by Bill providing some background, history, impact etc on that drawing. It’s one of our most popular features.

About six months ago, Bill got the idea of fusing the idea of Flash Mobs with creating art — and inviting the community to come along for the ride. On June 16, the world’s first Flash Sketch Mob brought 90+ artists of all ages, careers and point of view to the village to simultaneously sketch Nyack’s downtown. It was a big hit — and you can see the results here: Flash Sketch Mob Finale: A Digital Display

From a marketing POV, it had an number of positive impacts:

  • It was a cool event and a lot of fun: a memorable event with high viral potential
  • It was a first of its kind event, which NyackNewsAndViews co-produced and co-branded
  • Nyack has a very active arts community; it thinks of itself as an artsy place. None of our competitors have been able to focus on that vibe. Given their scattered editorial agenda and lack of focus, its unlikely they ever will. But it’s a plus to get there first even if they ever figure this out!
  • It invigorated about 150 people re: the arts and the village in a way we couldn’t have imagined. A lot of people who have day jobs as doctors, scientists, teachers — and students — joined professional artist to work as a team to create something that no single artists could have managed by themselves in only two hours.
  • NyackNewsAndViews, a trusted community brand, actually created a new community through this event.

If content is king, and ‘hyperlocal’ relates to community, NyackNewsAndViews won the lottery on this event.  From in-depth online coverage of the event, which drives traffic and therefore increases revenue, to boosting the site’s social media muscle as participants Tweet, Facebook, Instagram and Pin their experience, this was a success story with measurable ROI that we hope will inspire other hyperlocal publishers to think out-of-the-box when it comes to differentiation.

Thanks very much to Dave Zornow for sharing this success story!


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