Andy Beckett: I hope I can visit the North East again some time, and write a more optimistic piece

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Following Andy Beckett's article in Saturday's Guardian, there has been (rightly in my opinion) a major outcry about how the North East is depicted in national press.

In terms of the piece itself, the two key interviewees, Chi Onwurah MP and Edward Twiddy from the North East LEP, have both said they were misrepresented. Several blogs rebutted the findings including one from Paul Smith that is strongly supported by an article on Buzzfeed.

The Guardian's Northern editor Helen Pidd weighed in with her take on the article.

The petition I set up has gathered over 500 signatures - thanks to all who came out in support of our glorious region. Although no revisit from Andy Beckett is forthcoming, he has written an explanatory piece for the Journal. Whether or not we agree with his response, it is good that the Guardian has been forced to look at its reporting in terms of how it describes the North East.

Here is what the Guardian's Melissa Denes had to say: "Andy's original draft was longer, as is the case with most articles we run - there is always an editing process, and we do not know exactly how much print space we will have at the time of commissioning. In this instance it was cut by around 1000 words (or a not unusual 20%), and care was taken that the balance between positives and negatives remained the same.

"As well as Helen's blog, we have given half the letters page to the subject today, and there will be more in this weekend's magazine. Andy has written a piece for the Newcastle Journal. We have absolutely no wish to alienate readers, and are happy to correct errors - but I do feel his piece reflected much that was positive about the region, as well as causes for concern." 

Let's hope this unhappy experience prompts all the nationals to consider their (lack of) presence in the region and to keep balance in mind at all times.


Made in Tyne & Wear

I attended an event called #1000Flowers today with Addiply founder Rick Waghorn. It's purpose was to look at 'hyperlocal' advances and discuss what will fill the space left by newspaper decline. There were some really interesting developments worth being aware of.

One of the speakers was Jamie Conway, CEO of Made Television, winner of the OfCom Local TV licence for Newcastle. Here's a whistlestop guide to what he had to say.

- Local TV hasn't worked before due to positioning on the Electronic Programming Guide, which affects audience reach. This issue is being dealt with. - Local TV will be radically different to national TV so people should not expect the same. - There is a massive untapped market among brands who want to publicise local offers but can't afford national TV advertising. - Made Television is looking to average £10 per spot to deliver its business plan. - The average UK viewer consumes 90 minutes of mobile viewing a month compared to 4 hours and 4 minutes of TV a day. TV is still an important medium. - Local TV is Made Television's USP - no one else can enter this market because it is highly regulated and has barriers to entry. - There will be top of the hour news/sport/traffic and weather reports. - There will be a mix of lifestyle programmes and it will be more gritty than found elsewhere. - If BBC or ITV do it, Made Television don't want to. They can't and don't want to compete with bigger broadcasters.

Definitely a case of watch this space.


Does your online presence drive revenue?

Regular readers will know that from time to time I use this blog to talk about new industry developments or technologies and the one I’m going to explore today may interest anyone with an online presence. After all, who wouldn’t want to know about a quick and easy way to drive revenue from their website? Before I get started however, I ought to declare an interest – Sarah Hall Consulting has in the past provided PR support to Rick Waghorn, the owner and brainchild behind Addiply, the software I’m going to talk about. Nevertheless, the offering has evolved considerably since then and it’s exciting to see what’s on offer now.

When I first met Rick, he had recognized that online advertising was, for the majority of small to medium sized business owners, both difficult and complex to implement without the help of agency support, with the biggest downside being the cost involved. Although Google Adwords was (and remains) one option, his research pointed to the fact that customer satisfaction levels were low as these were hard and time-consuming to manage to get the strongest return on investment.

At the same time, Rick was very conscious of the rise in ‘hyperlocal’ news sites – online websites providing news and updates relevant to particular postcodes, for example: http://ponteland.journallive.co.uk/. Putting the two together, he devised a piece of software, www.addiply.com, that could be dropped onto such sites that would, within 3 very simple clicks, allow local businesses to place an advert relevant to the people on their doorstep. Available at a low cost, the publisher (in this case the news owner) could set the advertising rate, keeping 90% of the advertising revenue earned, with the remaining 10% of fees split between Addiply and Paypal (the method for securing payment).

As you’ll see if you follow the Journal link above, the software worked so well. Trinity Mirror secured it for their hyper local sites, as did the Guardian and many others aware that their online presence would drive their biggest growth.

Of course, although Rick, as a former journalist and early blogger, had developed the software for the news industry, it wasn’t long before businesses soon spotted the potential for driving revenue from their own sites. The rationale being that if the website continued to attract strong traffic and featured a cost effective and easy to use advertising service, why wouldn’t other companies use it where targeting the same audiences? An easy sales job.

Since then however, things have moved on apace.  Remaining at the forefront of the digital revolution (way ahead of the rest of us) – Addiply is now adapting to suit online video content and although currently in demo form only, its adverts can be over-laid onto short videos and films. The future looks set to bring all sorts of localized TV platforms (Northamptonshire County Council is already experimenting with Northamptonshire TV) so imagine the opportunities.  There will come a day when coffee shops, hospitals and the like will offer a local TV service.  Who wouldn’t want to be first in line to reach their audiences directly through such a simple and inexpensive advertising medium?

To me, the beauty of Addiply’s advertising platforms is that they respond to the changing media world, providing new options and best of all putting the control into the hands of local business owners, to whom this type of advertising might have previously been inaccessible without advertising knowledge and a sizeable budget.  As the landscape changes, it’s hard to imagine what will come next, but you can be sure that Rick will be there, finding new uses for Addiply and enabling small to medium sized businesses to make money from their online presence.