LION launches RAMP local advertising mentorships

Revenue from Advertising Mentorship Program will help indie publishers grow

By Steve Beatty | Jan. 9, 2018

LION Publishers is accepting applications from members* for a new mentorship program that will help local independent online news publishers establish local advertising as a sustainable revenue source.

Over the course of the year, thanks to support from the Democracy Fund, Local Independent Online News Publishers will provide mentorship and financial support to 10 members in building a market-specific local advertising program.

As part of the pilot Revenue from Advertising Mentorship Program, participants will receive funding to partially support their planning and implementation of new revenue streams.

Depending on the need and opportunity in each community, this could include help in growing revenue from display advertising, sponsored content and newsletter advertising. Publishers relying on other revenue sources who have no current local advertising support are also eligible to apply, and the program would help them build one from scratch. LION is committed to having the participants in RAMP be diverse in race, gender, publication size, geographic location, and for-profit vs. nonprofit tax status.

The common thread among publishers who receive mentoring will be a need for new revenue that will be transformative to their local news organizations, rather than incremental. We’d all like new revenue, but for some publishers, this new money could mean sustainability for the business, finally paying herself a salary, hiring an ad rep, or bringing on a new reporter.

The program will team the participants with mentors who have direct experience tackling the project they’re looking to start or expand. These mentors may be fellow LION members or experts from outside of our network.

A major obstacle in learning best practices and focusing on the revenue side of the local online news business is the time and capacity of publishers who “do it all.” The program aims to buy publishers a little extra time by providing each with a $7,500 mini-grant — those funds can be used to, for instance, hire freelance or short-term employees to do those daily chores that keep publishers from trying something new. The program will also cover some limited one-time expenses, such as printing a media kit or marketing materials, for instance, or licensing the customer-relations management software necessary to track your clients.

The intent is to help publishers have a new or expanded local advertising sales program set up by July 1, and to use the rest of the 12-month period to troubleshoot, fine-tune and work on the issues that come with success in local advertising sales, such as fulfillment, reporting, billing, and collections. Participants will work with each other, in addition to mentors, in sharing what works. They will also be required to assist in fully documenting their effort so other publishers — LION members or not — can learn from their experience.

Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to being an active participant in the program and to the long-term sustainability of their site.

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably interested in filling out the application below. The deadline for submitting your application is 5 p.m. EST on Friday, Jan. 26.

* Local independent publishers who apply for membership before the application deadline and meet LION's criteria are also eligible to apply for the program.

Questions? Contact Steve Beatty at stevebeatty@lionpublishers.com.

RAMP application

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