Northcliffe’s Local People: It’s not working, let’s shift the risk

Good news! Northcliffe has realised that it’s Local People network model is flawed and has decided to try and shift the risk onto naive entrepreneurs instead.

Maybe I’m just being optimistic given my well-known loathing of Local People but it’s as if Northcliffe have decided that  receiving £7k for each new Local People site is much better than forking out £6k for a ‘community publisher’.

In launching a franchise “opportunity” the Local People network is now much more like the About My Area and The Best Of networks. Does this then mean that the network is not so much competing with existing grass-roots hyperlocal sites anymore?

Either way, if this represents a slowing down of the roll-out of Local People sites that is a good thing for communities everywhere as far as I’m concerned. The less glorified discussion forums we have threatening the existence of Northcliffe’s own papers the better.

One concern is that pricing a hyperlocal site at £7k has the effect of bringing the hyperlocal bubble that I fear we’re seeing in the US over to the UK. While there is still no clear business model for successful hyperlocal, pumping £7k into such a site with no clear route to a return is surely suicidal.

Of course, this franchise model could see Local People go the way of About My Area and The Best Of and become much more business-oriented and far less about the news. Not that they carry much quality news at the moment anyway….

3 thoughts on “Northcliffe’s Local People: It’s not working, let’s shift the risk”

  1. I have had a quick look at this as you can well imagine.

    If it provides some of the business model and support so that people like us can produce good content then it might work but then you have to look at the figures.

    You are going to need to justify a fairly decent return on seven grand.

    Their literature talks about 5k a month income but as we both know,that is surely pie in the sky for small sites.

    Nevertheless I take my hat off to them for trying and maybe it could be the model that we are all waiting for

  2. I’ve been thinking about local networking a lot recently and I’ve had a look at my own ‘local-people site’ …. well it’s too faceless and sterile to be a community site and I know for a fact that very few people in my area use it. It sounds like a cliche but I believe local networks should be locally managed, a return to the ‘garden gate referral’ where information passes via word of mouth (in an internet sort of way)… local people’s model doesn’t address this and non-techie small businesses could well get sucked in for little return. I think their original idea was good and the sites look nice and function well, but ultimately I doubt they are trusted any more than the phone directory is for endorsement of local services.

  3. I worked on 4 localpeople sites in Devon last year, charged with generating revenue. It was a disaster and I resigned after four months. The Northcliffe culture towards it’s sales staff was diabolical to say the least.

    That said, some of the sites were highly profitable – I can think of two sites in particular that were generating well in excess of £5k per month. In an established localpeople town, I dare say that £7k with Northcliffe support probably won’t be the worst investment out there.

    On the flip side, some of the sites were eye-wateringly loss-making and I won’t lose any sleep from their demise.

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