Rob Curley, hyperlokale held

June 10, 2008

Enkele quotes uit interessant artikel over Rob Curley, hyperlocal pioneer.

“Users can compare historical home prices, street by street or neighborhood by neighborhood; receive a text alert about a Little League rainout, the weather, or the fishing report; click on a map to assess local hurricane damage; chat with the subject of a story or its reporter; check out a weekly high-school sports roundup and daily news “vodcast” (short for video on demand).”

And, one of Curley’s better-known projects, covered the University of Kansas Jayhawks teams in ways the Lawrence Journal-World couldn’t. In addition to live play-by-play, it featured an animated playbook of the basketball team’s most effective plays, and a writer who previewed coming matchups by simulating them on a computer game and covering them like real games. The result? Three years after Curley took over, monthly page views soared from around 500,000 to a peak of around 13 million. Not bad for a town with 82,000 residents.

Twain in Hannibal. Politics in Topeka. Basketball in Lawrence. Real estate in Naples. Each topic defines the local community. Obvious, yes, but the genius is in the execution. And there, too, he follows a deceptively simple rule: “There’s no such thing as overkill.” On the bottomless Web, there’s always room for more detail, more depth. That, in essence, is the “hyper” in hyper-local.

There’s a Warren Buffett quote, which I’m paraphrasing, that says there has never been a venture that’s accumulated massive eyeballs and audience that’s failed

He was also tackling one of the industry’s toughest problems: how to engage the elusive 18- to 24-year-old set. His team did it by remaking, a site separate from the paper’s online home, as an alternative-entertainment hub for college students. The sarcasm and profanity sounded authentic to readers, but behind the attitude was a sophisticated approach to service and interactivity. Databases of local-music gigs and daily drink specials made the site useful. Offbeat reader blogs made it unpredictable. “The site belonged to them, not us,” Curley says.

The other smart decision was taking the online content and putting it in an ad-rich weekly tabloid called Deadwood Edition, an oft-cited example of reverse publishing.


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