Laurie and Local NEWS Network are giving a voice to small-town America, telling the important and untold stories of local communities. Through educational and celebratory content, Laurie wants to connect communities and help small businesses reach their audiences.
Listen to the full interview of Laurie Sigillito with Adam Torres on Mission Matters Business Podcast.
Starting with News
Laurie came from a technology background. She worked for corporations doing data integration for more than 20 years, and later moved to Durango, Colorado, and started a business. She opened a franchised sign and graphics business and quickly learned that it was difficult and expensive to reach a local buying audience through traditional advertising mechanisms, and hard to create news and publicize it in small towns. The lack of local news and advertising options made her realize that she wanted to bring back free local news, funded through advertising, and modernized with video format.
From Data Integration to Local News
"It all started because of a contract with the Durango, Colorado airport to manage their digital advertising," recollects Laurie. “To get a video created for an ad was expensive in those days, and I realized that local businesses needed a resource to do it. I later bought the local video production company in town thinking I'll produce the videos for them. The video production company had access to the local TV station via a leased line, and I realized that we could start producing local news. I had no idea what I was doing. We hired some people and tried different things."
Laurie's technical background in Systems Development helped her leverage technology to build and deliver local news on a local digital display network, as well through an online news portal, social media platforms and through an email newsletter. Laurie’s sales experience helped her create an advertising program for local businesses. The team developed a platform and business model using local contract journalists, remote video editors and centralized distribution to create, produce and distribute local news differently.
Local NEWS Network - How is it Different?
“Our news is hyper-local; it’s written for locals by locals, and it’s free. Most local newspapers now charge subscription fees; we avoid paywalls so everyone has access to the local news,” said Laurie.
Their model emphasizes celebratory, informative, and educational content for a community. Instead of highlighting the sensational news, Local NEWS Network focuses on the people in the community, information about relevant issues and topics, highlights businesses and makes people feel good about their community.
"One of the first things we implemented was short form video news, as opposed to written news stories, video offers more opportunities for distribution. Video, done correctly, naturally lasts longer than plain text news and engages a wider audience" says Laurie. Laurie's goal was to reduce the cost of content production and enhance distribution. This approach opened many unexpected doors and made LNN’s production more sustainable.
“There's a whole ecosystem around local news,” explained Laurie. “When you produce good local news, people start watching it because it's interesting. The local businesses then want to reach that same audience, so they start advertising on it, leading to more money to produce more news stories. As this cycle grows, we can support nonprofits by sharing their stories, and ecosystem begins to support the overall community – but it starts with relevant local, and interesting news that matters. The overall goal is to keep money in our towns by helping our local businesses reach their local audience.”
In the near future, Local NEWS Network plans to take their concept to more markets, with the longer-term goal of bringing news back to hundreds of “news deserts” in the US. While the main focus is on supporting local communities and their businesses, they will test working with some national advertisers that also want to reach these local communities. In the short-term, we are looking for investors who understand the value of local news, and how it creates more educated and engaged local communities.” explains Laurie.
To know more about Laurie and The Local News Network, visit https://www.durangolocal.news/
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