Pegasus News Gets Acquired: A Conversation With Mike Orren
Pegasus News announced today that the company will be acquired by Fisher Communications. The deal will bring Pegasus’ online local and hyper-local content capabilities to Fisher’s communities and existing properties – consisting of 19 television and radio stations throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The cities where Fisher hangs its hat are well suited to the local content aggregation and flavor that Pegasus has developed and proved valuable in its home turf of Dallas, Texas.
“We work best in larger metros with lots of suburban sprawl,” Pegasus founder Mike Orren told me today. “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. This could happen through the cross-promotional efforts of the new parent’s radio and television media, and also through the resources it 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.”
UGC, however, isn’t the answer to everything, and it has to be balanced out with a healthy dose of aggregated national and local news content, according to Orren.
“We’ve always thought that it is hard to create a scalable audience based entirely on user-generated content,” he says. “Most people don’t want to be citizen journalists.”
What Is Hyper-Local?
Orren meanwhile has a different view of what a hyper-local destination site should offer to both users and advertisers. His thoughts are particularly interesting in the wake of Backfence’s folding (and cofounder Mark Potts’ public statements on the site’s fate), at a time when everyone is questioning hyper-local.
Hyper-local, he believes, is important, but not enough to exist as a stand-alone on any given site. You have to be holistic to the entire metro, he believes.
“There are so many factors in a start-up and no one-size-fits-all lessons. But we believe that even with hyper-local, you have to cover the entire metro for it to work,” he says. “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.”
Next up for Pegasus is to develop monetization strategies around locally relevant behavioral advertising. Orren would also like to deepen content in certain niche areas such as theater, music and events, which will also serve to improve the customization and personalization tools that have been cornerstones of its user appeal.
“Customization gets better with a bigger body of content,” says Orren, reiterating that resources and exposure of its new parent will help it get there. “It will hopefully turn everything up a little and help us go from being an intriguing start-up to the next stage of legitimacy.”
Related: The Washington Post this week launched a new hyper-local site for its suburb of Louden County, Virginia, ironically in the same region where Backfence launched the first of its 13 hyper-local sites.