"If you want to reach all the people in your country, you have to get personal with them." With this statement, Bart Brouwers from Telegraaf Media Group (TMG) in the Netherlands presented his plans for a niche hyperlocal project to the 17th World Editors Forum in Hamburg.
"Our goal is 'simple' - to try to build an online hyperlocal platform for the 16 million people living in Holland," he said. "We have to provide a hyper-local, hyper-personal, hyper-social platform for every Dutch citizen - mobile and web," he said.
Although Telegraaf still hasn't defined the brand name for the platform, it will clearly be a different brand and name to distinguish the service, said Brouwers.
Four pilot projects kicked off in August, including one platform for commercial content, one for community, and two based on aggregated content. "Can we build a platform based on pure aggregation, without any in-house editorial input? We will see..."
The project will be done on a national basis, Brouwers said. "Hyperpersonal and hypernational - here is one of the challenges of the media." Adding local relevance is top priority, not only in editorial and marketing but also with commercial content as well.
With all online ventures, establishing a sustainable business model presents its own set of challenges, and for now, Brouwers said, 80 percent of revenues will be based on advertising. "With all the talk of paid-for content, we cannot throw away the concept of advertising just yet."
So, how is Brouwers' project going to reach its goal?
> By being local first and learning to collaborate.
> Getting intimately personal with the community.
> Being everywhere on social networking.
> Publishing in real-time always.
> Making participation tools easy to use.
> Being open to any ideas, both internally and externally.
> By still surprising readers.
> Taking risks knowing that mistakes will come but that "you won't be wrong for long."
> Striving to improve skills, technically and journalistically.
> Avoiding the stereotypical "special" mentality associated with journalists.
> Having realistic expectations of reader participation; perhaps 10 percent of the audience will interact. "This will indeed be small, but it is a good start and it will grow with nurturing."
> By embracing entrepreneurial thinking.
> Building incremental revenues streams.
"Mistakes are not failure," Brouwert added. "They are the best way to get where you want to be. They have to be shared. If not, you will always stick to your mistakes."