Tag Archives: Birmingham Mail

This is not a transaction.

I blogged the other week about The Lichfield Blog’s print debut in the Birmingham Mail with an article I wrote about Fuse Festival. It sparked a nice few comments and I thought they warranted a second blog post to clear one thing up.

The printing of that article was not one side of a transaction, nor was it ever going to be. In the comments Ed Walker and Ventnor Blog specifically mentioned payment but as Ed pointed out in a further comment, hyperlocals like ours are set up for many different reasons.

Have no doubt that we are not in it for the money at TLB, not least because there is very little money to be had.

Our main priority is to make sure we are providing a comprehensive, impartial news service to the communities of Lichfield District. Having our stuff printed in the Birmingham Mail isn’t going to be of great benefit in that respect but it does open doors.

And that’s the point.

Let’s be honest – BPM is unlikely to have the money to be dishing out mullah to hyperlocals like us for that kind of coverage, and as I just mentioned we’re not in it for the money so that suits just fine.

…because we’ll get something out of it that’s more beneficial to us. We’re already talking about a whole new area that we can move into on TLB because of the possibilities this collaboration has thrown up.

That’s where the value is. We’re already generating revenue purely because local people have seen and liked what we do and decided to part with their cash for us. That relatively small amount is helping us to survive and have a bit of a comfort blanket.

Our ongoing collaboration will help us to improve our offering and that quality will show through further still and create more revenue opportunities for us that help us to be sustainable.

One more thing…

Ventnor Blog said that our “early actions are possibly setting the die for the future for many more.” To an extent I agree – this will be looked at very closely to see how it works out. However, this should not be seen as a template for the rest of the hyperlocal scene and local media industry to work together apart from the actual conversation.

As Ed said, each hyperlocal is different and so is each local media company. Each partnership has to be treated differently and a middle ground sought between the aims of each party. That’s the bit of our relationship with BPM that should be focused on, not the actual outcomes which are based on many different factors that will not be the same for others.

Update: We’ve recently published a post about local club Chasetown FC, supplemented with pictures from the Birmingham Post & Mail coffers.

The day my hyperlocal blog post was published in a major regional newspaper

Plenty of people will be skeptical about this bit of news but boy am I excited. I’d love to hear if this has happened before or not, but so far it’s the first time that I’m aware of, and I’m chuffed it’s me.

If you pick up a copy of the Birmingham Mail today you will see, on page 29, an article about Lichfield’s Fuse Festival that I originally wrote for The Lichfield Blog, and with pictures taken by our resident photographer, Nick Brickett.

This represents the first fruit from what looks like a very healthy tree of collaboration between the hyperlocal site I volunteer for and Britain’s biggest newspaper group. It’s the realisation of my long held vision of how hyperlocal will contribute to the local media industry – what I like to call the ‘news onion‘.

David Higgerson and I lead a #TAL10 panel on collaboration between hyperlocal and regional media.
David Higgerson and I lead a #TAL10 panel on collaboration between hyperlocal and regional media.*

Trinity Mirror’s David Higgerson and I led a session at the Talk About Local unconference in Leeds back in April that dealt specifically with collaboration between organisations like ours. We went through ideas for how we could work together, and took many suggestions and comments from the audience. In all I felt it was productive and it helped David and I to move forward with our own collaboration of which today is the culmination.

The details of how this relationship will mature are still undecided but there is certainly more to come and plenty more discussions to be had. That said, the next few months will prove very exciting.

*Photo by the venerable Josh Halliday.

Recognition for The Lichfield Blog just keeps on growing…

When I first got involved in The Lichfield Blog back in February this year I had no idea that six months later I’d be writing a business plan for a brand new social enterprise.

The Lichfield Blog banner up at Fuse Acoustic '09
The Lichfield Blog banner up at Fuse Acoustic '09

I never thought I’d be looking at stats showing an average of 11,000 visitors each month (equivalent to over 10% of Lichfield District’s population* and a third of the circulation of leading print weekly, the Lichfield Mercury). Nor did I imagine it would spur such cool things as Lichfield Social Media Cafe and Lichfield Social Media Surgeries (both still in planning). I would have laughed if you’d have told me I’d be live-streaming local artists at Lichfield’s Fuse Festival. A look of disbelief would accompany the thought of our MP, Mike Fabricant advertising on the site.

I knew we’d do lots of very cool things with it – as seems to be customary now my brain buzzed with ideas for exciting developments as soon as I saw it. I’m taken aback by the way things have played out though.

When I first started working freelance in November 2007 my aim was to be a leader in my industry. The heavy involvement in The Lichfield Blog and the recognition it’s seen has proven to me that I’m starting to achieve that.

That recognition has seen a massive boost over the past few weeks for two big reasons. The first is securing Michael Fabricant MP as an advertiser on the blog. He was our third advertiser and (we think) the first MP to advertise on a hyperlocal media site. Rick Waghorn of Addiply (the ad system we use) took the opportunity to shout about it that very afternoon at NewsInnovation London. I saw the tweets rolling in and I could barely contain my elation at having made such an impact.

Second reason, and the inspiration for this post, is that today Lichfield District Council have (after I sent them a cheeky tweet) changed their “Local Newspapers” section to “Local Media” and included The Lichfield Blog. They’re even syndicating us! I’m still undecided as to whether to check the other 353 local government district web sites to see if Lichfield is the only one to do so…

Both of these also come after what I consider to be a huge compliment from Birmingham Mail who recently started syndicating us along with our friends, Tamworth Blog and local blogger, Brownhill’s Bob. I call this traditional and new media meeting and getting along nicely – aka a sneak peak into the future of local media.

I know this is just the start though. All this has been achieved with the only expenditure being less than £100 and the time of a small team of dedicated and passionate volunteers (I say only, but it takes a lot of time). With the extra help and support we’re hoping to get as part of our future plans it’s obvious to me that The Lichfield Blog is going to move on leaps and bounds.

I can’t wait!

* based on data from the Office for National Statistics.

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