Backfence and Local Lessons

Mark Potts made a brief comment on my earlier post but has declined to write a “what I’ve learned” style reflection on his experience. In lieu of that I’ll point back to Mike Orren’s piece in the Online Journalism Review, “Lessons from the Launch.” Orren runs Pegasus News and is a very smart guy about local. Here are his bullets, but the entire piece is worth reading:

  • Launched is better than not. But not launched is better than launched and empty
  • People will display unreasonable loyalty and tenacity for a cause, particularly when that cause is media
  • The concept of “citizen journalism,” at least in a pure dogmatic form, is a myth. Myths, however, are critical to our understanding our world
  • On the local level at least, data is what drives visitors
  • Local advertisers are hard to reach, but easily impressed
  • The more obscure the content, the better
  • Amateurs are bigger perfectionists than pros
  • Don’t fear user comments
  • The rules of local are different

Related: Terry Heaton rounds up discussion of the Backfence closing from around the Internet.

    2 Responses to “Backfence and Local Lessons”

    1. Loren Says:

      One problem I saw with BackFence was they put a lot of effort into a good idea, but never followed up on it. When they launched in the DC suburbs / Northern Virginia area they attracted a lot of fanfare, but then it seemed that they almost jetisoned their DC project for their SF Bay area project, which is quite an over saturated market in terms of local communities.

      Another problem I had with them was their advertising sales team. I used to work with a DC based company that would have spend about $10K a month with BackFence had one of their sales reps returned my calls. Not sure why they never wanted to follow up, but throwing away an easy $120K a year in ad and partnership revenue, when they had ad spots open all over the place, made no sense to me. This was pre-SF Bay relaunch.

      Hope that they can get their act cleaned up and maybe, maybe make something decent out of an interesting product.

    2. KevinL. Says:

      Hey Greg,
      MerchantCircle would love to engage in heartfelt and heated discussions! Please consider us at your discretion….
      Feel better as well.

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