A local media startup called HamletHub has built a model that very well could scale.
HamletHub is a new hyperlocal model that offers news about specific neighborhoods and also enables everyone in a community to be active participants on their platform. They have done this by creating tools that make it simple to contribute information and allow residents, reporters, and editors to generate revenue from their contributions.
The founder of HamletHub is Kerry Anne Ducey, who shared some details about what is happening at her company and why it’s a scalable, smart, community-building solution for local news.
First, can tell us a little about how HamletHub started and a bit about your background?
The founding of HamletHub was by pure accident. I was helping non-profits who were doing amazing things for kids, veterans, etc., in our community. I realized their ability to help was limited because they could not effectively communicate with the residents, local businesses, schools, etc. With all the communication apps, I hated seeing this, and thought I had the answer.
I grew up in a friendly town. Maybe because my dad was a judge, I always saw people as part of the community — everyone taking care of each other. I took his public service to my community. However, I have witnessed firsthand how technology disrupted the fabric of my community, and this hurt the people who needed it the most.
I wrote professionally for a local magazine, and local stories were pitched to me on a daily basis. These stories were awesome, but we were limited in what we could publish. Stories about local businesses and nonprofits — stories that were a necessary part of the fabric of our town. We had great and philanthropic people and a lot going on, but there was no connectivity and no central “hub” where the stories could be told and the information could be shared.
The value of these stories to my community could not be overstated. Because there was no place to tell this story, few people would hear it. That was hurting our town, especially for local non-profits, businesses, and schools. People were engaged with the community, not helping their neighbors as much as they could.
What are the things that really separate HamletHub in your mind from other hyperlocal efforts?
Scalability. By necessity, we built a scalable platform. We proved it can work in any community.
When residents of other towns experienced HamletHub’s ability to connect a community, they asked us to put HamletHub in their town. We were not in a position to invest tens of thousands of dollars in each of these communities, so we were forced to figure out another way.
We concluded HamletHub could best serve communities by enabling everyone in the communities, from reporters to business owners, residents, and nonprofit leaders, to be active participants. We invested in the tools to make it easy to contribute information. In addition, we developed a model where locals, including reporters and writers, could create revenue from their contributions.
The results have been phenomenal. Residents care about their community: 99% of the residents have a stake in a local recreational group, non-profit or school, and many see their local HamletHub as a way to make that group better.
The Small Businesses Matter initiative is pretty unique. How did that initiative develop and what has response from advertisers been?
Every person and company talks about ESG (environmental, social and governance practices) but typically overlook one of the largest and most effective resources to grow ESG. Small businesses have practiced ESG forever where it matters the most — on a local level. They not only directly implement ESG on a grassroots level, but they support other community groups that implement ESG. As anyone who has approached a local business for a donation can attest to, they are the glue that holds the community together, and without them, many events, youth sports leagues, and non-profits would not exist. They often supply our children with their first job and donate goods and services to our nonprofit organizations. Small businesses have to be the most underappreciated asset on the planet.
We discovered that every business has a story. Not only are these stories interesting, but they inspire the businesses’ customers and potential customers. So we teamed up with a great regional bank, Fairfield County Bank, to help us fund a program to share these stories at no cost to the local business. It’s vital that residents are aware of the essential support these local businesses provide the community.
The program has been wildly successful. Our sponsor has realized results, and the small businesses constantly tell HamletHub how appreciative they are.
The Places section seems to be a terrific destination for sharing openings and business information. Tell us how this section works. Is it sponsored or all user-generated?
Our places section is very popular. If I researched your town, I will bet I could name five things going on within a couple of miles from your home this weekend that you are totally unaware of. Think about the ramifications of that. Many of these events give the opportunity for kids to hone their craft or raise money for an important charity. Not to mention, they actually bring community members physically together in one place.
There is a myriad of choices on where to publicize your event, but most towns lack a central town calendar. Our Places section acts as a sort of community bulletin board where everyone can share events and find out what is happening in the community.
What do you see next for HamletHub?
We envision the day when everyone in a community is connected through a digital hub. This means residents, business owners, and members of the local government can share a story, read a story, or just find out what was going on. HamletHub is the central place to inform or be informed, and connects all members of every community.