Borrell conference notes

I’m writing this from the Admiral’s Club at LaGuardia, as I await my transportation back to DFW. A lot of people hate LaGuardia, but I love it. It’s nasty, old and doesn’t have the amenities of newer airports, but this place has character like few other airports. It’s crowded and everything is “in your face.” I also love the Plexiglas display cases of “things you can’t take on an airplane.” One includes a chainsaw, which I’ve always found humorous.

The conference on local revenue was pretty remarkable and a great learning experience for all who attended. Gordon tells me he’ll do it again next year, and I certainly hope that’s true. I’ve been to many media conferences, and this was the first that specifically addressed strategy, revenue and the realities of our future from people who are deeply involved in everything. I had the chance to spend a few private minutes with many of the presenters and was most impressed with Court Cunningham, CEO of yodle, a hot, hot company in the world of local online revenue. He’s a really smart guy with deep understanding of the new definition of “local media,” and I expect his company will lead many others in this space.

I have a couple of important take-aways that I’ll write more about later. It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that successful local media companies downstream will require some form of call center in order to “sell” online at the local level. Be it simply qualifying leads or closing deals, a call center is a highly efficient way to deal with the relatively low-priced advertising for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). Yodel uses a call center. So do the people at Datasphere, the company responsible for 1,000 new advertisers for KOMO-TV in Seattle this year.

It was also fun to hear – for the first time – from companies like Raycom, Lin and Capital Media’s WRAL-TV on the creative things they’re each doing to make money. This idea of industry sharing is something that has long been overdue in the business of local media, but it’s exactly what we need to take some of the energy out of the growth of pureplays in sucking local revenue out of markets of all sizes.

Gordon Borrell is a friend of mine, so consider the source on this. By organizing this conference, he has done more to advance the cause of local media than anyone, and that includes the associations that actually represent the best interests of newspapers and television. There was no B-S here. The disruptors were represented along with the disruptees, and those familiar with my work know that I’ve been asking for such for many years.

Thank you, Gordon.

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