Tag Archives: Mike Orren

Dallas Morning News, Slingshot (and Mike Orren) Team for Local/Social Service

Newspapers have local brand credibility and content; agencies have media expertise; and neither of them do especially well selling SMBs on today’s social-infused media options.

That’s the challenge being addressed by Speakeasy, a new local social service being owned in partnership by Belo’s Dallas Morning News and Slingshot, a Dallas-based interactive agency that will provide a lot of the key infrastructure and media expertise. The effort, majority owned by The News, is being run by Pegasus News Founder Mike Orren.

Orren tells us Speakeasy, in development for several months, includes a lot of elements from prior hyperlocal efforts, and will be aiming at higher end SMBs willing to spend $2k a month for six month contracts – a newspaper sweet spot. It will be positioned above the newspaper’s existing 508 Digital initiative, affiliated with Local Edge, which sells a search/social and display package to smaller SMBs.

Matching content to SMBs is a core initiative for Speakeasy. Content will be available from The News’ archive for placement by clients on their social media and websites.In this regard, it’s not much different than Demand Media’s effort a few years ago to provide content to Merchant Circle clients for $9.95 a month.

But archival content is just part of it. Orren says that he also expects to utilize his extensive network of Dallas-based writers and producers for custom jobs – an effort to similar efforts that CBS Local has running with Examiner.com (where Orren has been a consultant). Digital Sherpa, Yodle and others are also providing custom content aimed at driving higher search ranking and success.

“There’s obvious stuff… stories about the company; gardening columns. But there is also non-traditional content,” says Orren. “A real estate agent can create a site around where neighbors go; and local news content,” he says. A lot of SMB database content – maps of local coffeehouses or entertainment listings — is very poorly done today, he says.

Ultimately, whether unique content is involved or archives, it seems what really matters is bringing local SMBs back into the newspaper fold; efforts previously focused on SEO sales by WebVisible, Maroon Ventures and others.

ILM:09: Budde, Orren Say Personalization Key for Small Screen


Smart phones’ smaller screens and a glut of news and information makes it more essential for users to personalize content so that preferred stories can be seen, noted DailyMe COO Neil Budde, who was speaking at ILM:09 in Los Angeles last week. “The devices keep getting smaller and smaller,” he said. “If you have an iPhone, it becomes more difficult because you are scrolling through irrelevant content.

Budde also says that personalized solutions such as Dailyme provide compelling analytics that are missing from solutions such as Omniture or Google. They look at individual page views, while “we are looking at content within the site across multiple stories. We can provide demographics of people and what they are reading about, and zero in on your most valuable users: your loyalists.” DailyMe is currently being used by Boston.com and other publishers.

Speaking on the same session, PegasusNews Founder Mike Orren says his site is expanding beyond its Dallas flagship and will soon be rolled out with affiliate partners, generally affiliated with Gap Broadcasting, which bought the company last year from Fisher Broadcasting.

Orren said the biggest lesson that Pegasus has learned over its three year existence is “not to customize everything. Some niches you can’t customize,” he says. The most successful personalization is when customers don’t know they are using it. “They just thought that our tastes were the same as theirs.”

It is also essential that sites track what readers are looking at and adjust accordingly, rather than rely on checklists that users fill out once and never update. “People don’t see themselves accurately in their interests,” said Orren. “You get false positives. They say they like opera and champagne and then they go to a honky tonk and drink beer.”