Street Fight: The Little Online Newspaper that Could
It’s everyone’s favorite story: The old-school newspaper reporters that came together to create a new business model. And they did it without resorting to endless slideshows of nip-slipping celebrities and kittens in wicker baskets. At Street Fight Summit today, hyperlocal-minded marketers, publishers and journalists heard the tale of how a group of former St. Louis Dispatch reporters came together to start an online-only newspaper that succeeded.
“We could have opened up an ice cream stand and generated enough money to support editorial, but that’s not a position we wanted to be in,” Shawn Mcguiness, the Beacon’s Business Manager said. “We wanted the revenue strategies to align with the missions we had.”
How? The Beacon has found three primary sources of revenue:
SpAd Packages: Basically, the Beacon serves as a mini ad agency for community businesses, expanding their offering to include creative consulting on how to frame the message, how to best use social media, and complete creative production through their in-house design team.
Matchmaker: The Beacon leverages their position as a powerful influencer in Politics, Arts, and Health/BioTech to form deep relationships with those communities, and they’ve created a revenue stream in strategically connecting interested parties to those communities. We’ve already seen Influencers on Twitter monetize their power—the Beacon is smart to do the same.
Events: Events! They’re as old as alcohol-fueled regrets. The Beacon doubled down on events, and it’s generated 10% of their alcohol the last two years.
The Beacon had tried to implement the business models that other successfully surviving newspapers had used, but ultimately, they didn’t find success until they focused on their own plan. “Ignore everyone,” McGuiness said. “And focus on unique value.”
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