RPD: There’s Revenue In Them There Forums

25th in 2022 Series*

Having worked for corporations most of my newspaper career, I was trained to hear the headquarters voice in the back of my head whenever my local staff would draft initiatives that required investment and approval. “Nice idea, Tom,” the voice would say. “But how are you going to quickly make money with it?” That question now surfaces when it comes to newspapers transforming into becoming THE Community Forum, this year’s focus for The Relevance Project. In its initial actions, THE Community Forum is a strategic pivot to increase audience. And every local news operation needs a growing audience. It follows that a larger audience equals more revenue. But “the voice” often asks its same question again. Impatiently. OK, I offer two next steps to build up from THE Community Forum: subscriber-only events to add value as subscriptions increase; and general public events, where there’s an admission ticket or table cost. On the first type of revenue-generator, check out this recent story detailing subscriber-only events. Note to community newspapers: You don’t have to be The Washington Post to make it work. One the second moneymaker: When I was publisher of The Richmond Times-Dispatch, we charged for at least two popular events: one (A Taste of Richmond) that allowed attendees to sample food from a diverse selection of local restaurants; and another that celebrated the RTD Person of the Year among good people making a difference. We also had a Speaker Series that in 2017 costs $140 for all eight events. If you build a robust audience engagement with THE Community Forum, you can also develop revenue from events that are Relevant, too. Funny. I don’t hear that voice.

-Tom Silvestri, Executive Director, The Relevance Project

*ABOUT THE SERIES: Our goal is to share a Relevant Point of the Day (RPD) each weekday throughout 2022. Our target is at least 222 — we’re more than 10 percent there. Thank you for supporting The Relevance Project. Your success is our focus.

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