Can Radio Adopt Smart Hyperlocal Strategy?

Interesting Article by Mel Taylor

The concept of hyperlocal is finally starting to get some recognition in the Radio world.  For the past 5 years, Radio seems to have paid little attention to Newspaper’s struggle with hyperlocal. Radio could have learned much by watching how print folks were fumbling hyperlocal. Radio could have used newspaper as an indicator of how NOT to do hyperlocal.

What is hyperlocal? According to Wikipedia, hyperlocal is “online news or content pertaining to a town, village, single postcode or geographically defined community.

While that definition of hyperlocal is somewhat accurate, it’s terribly incomplete.  Note the avoidance of anything remotely connected to local business, advertising, commerce or sales. A more accurate description of hyperlocal would be: a mix of news, info and commerce related to a well-defined community or affinity group.

Radio Consultant Walt Sabo recently wrote a post about hyperlocal, and unfortunately misses the mark about this critical, local media disruption.

Like other programmers with good intentions, Mr. Sabo seems to give the impression that cool apps, catch phrases and Radio station websites are critical elements to hyperlocal success. We respectfully disagree. We believe that hyperlocal success revolves around the needs of a local business, not the needs of a Radio station, agency buyer or Radio VP Digital.

We’ve experienced it first-hand.  Your sales staff’s relationship with local businesses will make or break your digital business model. Hyperlocal success comes from knowing exactly what the SMB (small & mid-size business) wants.

SMB’s don’t care about APPS, station websites, page views or CPM’s. They only care about these 5 digital issues:

  • Good looking, easy to maintain, search optimized website
  • Email Marketing Plan
  • Lead Capture
  • Facebook & Social Media Strategy
  • Online Video Strategy

Every so often, you have to re-invent yourself. Were you a Radio DJ like me back in the day, with a goofy mullet haircut? It’s even more important to change, especially if you’re still hanging with hair bands.  Are you a Radio, TV or Newspaper exec still following the conventional ways of doing your job? Get the feeling your job is not exactly safe and sound?

If we’re smart, we re-invent voluntarily…on our own terms. Too often though, we’re forced to. The Internet and this concept of ‘hyperlocal’ are 2 disruptors / change agents applying deadly pressure to the broadcast world. What’s your plan for re-invention?

Radio and TV Broadcasters could make the same mistake Newspapers are making. Many ink-stained publishers still allow newsroom and tech geeks to define what hyperlocal strategy will be used for their local media operation. Sales and new business development pros are rarely invited to these strategy sessions. That’s one big reason why Newspaper is no longer the default and dominant, hyperlocal online destination for a community.

We strongly recommend to our clients: your hyperlocal strategy needs to come out of the SALES department first, then the programming and content folks can build upon that revenue-focused framework.

Today, a hyperlocal business operator; aka the local advertiser, isn’t forced to advertise in the paper or on the radio like in the good ole’ days. These mom & pop stores have choice out the wazoo. They’re quickly migrating their marketing to the Internet.  That’s why your #1 hyperlocal priority must be to protect that local business relationship. It’s the lifeblood of your Radio, TV, or local Newspaper operation.

Strange that Radio is just now trying to understand this hyperlocal locomotive. Maybe Radio’s still too confident about the so-called ‘ownership’ of the car dashboard during drive times? If you have Sirius Satellite Radio, or you connect your smart phone or iPod into your car’s audio system, you probably know what I’m talking about. That ownership is still there, but it’s quickly eroding.

WordPress powered, hyperlocal websites like and online-only companies like have swooped in, and have carved out strong positions in their markets. Other hyperlocal competition is also coming from ReachLocal, Constant Contact and Google. Are your sales managers familiar with these players and their tactics? They should be.

Mel Taylor is a 15 year Radio veteran with a deep background in Sales, Management and Digital Training. Starting out as a DJ in Philadelphia, Mel Taylor now consults and coaches local media execs on the finer points of digital business models.

This article was adapted from

Jim Sherwood serves as the chief creative, brand strategist, lead developer, meticulous project manager, and station collaborator for all Skyrocket Radio sites and projects. Jim is a 30+ year radio veteran with a resume spanning several small, medium, and large markets including roles as Digital Content Manager, Program Director, Production Manager, and Morning Show Host.