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Hyper-Local Gets a Vote of Confidence

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Dallas based Hyper local news and events site Pegasus News has announced it will be acquired by Fisher Communications. The deal will bring Pegasus' online local and hyper-local content capabilities to Fisher's existing properties, including 19 television and radio stations throughout the Pacific Northwest.

This comes days after Backfence, one of the original "hyper-local" online destinations announced it will close its doors (see co-founder Mark Potts' blog post earlier this week and SEW past coverage of Backfence's woes here and here). This has caused general awareness and speculation of online hyper-local destinations which are growing in number including Outside.in, SmallTown, CitySquares, and FatDoor.

Pegasus News founder Mike Orren has his own view on what hyper-local should be, which builds upon the generally accepted definition that, itself, is somewhat amorphous (see past SEW expert column on hyperlocal). Specifically, he believes hyper-local content (i.e. the high school box score, the mother's group meeting schedule) is important, but not enough to exist alone as a core feature to any local search site. You have to be holistic to the entire metro, he contends.

"Even with hyper-local, you have to cover the entire metro for it to work," he told me. "People aren't just identified with their community: You're a little bit your neighborhood, a little bit the food you eat, the music you listen to and the city you work in. Neighborhood content is important, but you have to put that in front of the basketball score someone will look for and where they are going to eat tonight – which may not be in their neighborhood."

Breathing New Life into Hyper-Local

This mindset works particularly well with the assets that it's new parent brings to the table. Specifically, the cities throughout the Pacific Northwest where Fisher hangs it's hat (i.e. Portland, Seattle, Tacoma, etc.) are conducive to Pegasus' particular brand of content aggregation and local flavor that has proven successful on its home turf of Dallas Tx.

"We work best in larger metros with lots of suburban sprawl," says Orren. "Yeah it could probably work well in New York City, but we're much more interested in places that have not a lot of media coverage and a lot of people that engage in entertainment in the city, but also want to come home and go to their kid's soccer game."

The Fisher ownership will also give it more resources to bring in user generated content and community participation, which have proven difficult to incentivize for Backfence and others. This could happen through the cross-promotional efforts of the new parent's radio and television media, and the overall resources they could bring to Pegasus.

"User generated content doesn't just find you," says Orren. "A fair amount of seeding and harvesting is required. With more resources, we can spend more time with high schools and community groups to engage them to contribute to the site and supplement what we're doing."

Next up for Pegasus is to develop monetization strategies around locally relevant behavioral advertising. Orren would also like to deepen content in niche areas such as theater, music and events, which will have SEO benefits and also serve to improve the customization and personalization tools that have characterized its user appeal.

"Customization gets better with a bigger body of content," says Orren, explaining that, here again, the resources that Fisher brings to the table and the boost in exposure will help Pegasus get there.

"It will hopefully turn everything up a little and help us go from being an intriguing startup to the next stage of legitimacy," he says.


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