Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sales rep says won't work

"Sales have dropped dramatically so there's a tremendous morale problem within Patch," said one of the hyperlocal website's sales people told "The editorial staff has been worked to death and they've already changed it over once, effectively. The same thing is going on the with sales force."

BusinessInsider didn't name the sales rep who spoke out about The anonymous rep is also quoted as saying:
    • "When it gets down to paying the editors, paying the sales staff, paying the management and the requisite expenses that go along with that, the numbers just do not compute. The advertising cannot support the local Patch model the way it stands. From a dollar standpoint, it simply will not add up."
    • "The problem with Patch is that if you really look at the model, banner ads have been around for 15-20 years online, and it's essentially an old product with a new twist on it from a local news standpoint." 
    • wants to launch a Groupon-like product but hasn't been able to figure out the phone app part.
The anonymous rep blamed a lack of leadership for Patch's problems, saying the company was so hasty in trying to be the first to market in the hyperlocal segment that they "forgot that quality people are essential to getting anything off the ground."

"I've never seen anything as bad as Patch, ever," the rep said.

Patch declined to comment to BusinessInsider.

Jim Romenesko of Poynter has postedM an e-mail from Patch communications vp Jannie Iamunno that gives the company's point of view. Major points include:
    • "Patch is filling the gaps in local journalism. In analyzing study findings for your readers, I hope you’ll consider the below facts on Patch’s growth, commitment to providing hyperlocal news coverage in a prolific and consistent way, and editorial accomplishments via its nearly 1,000 professional journalists." 
    • "Patch currently publishes nearly 5,000 articles per day across its 827 sites, and posts new content every 12 seconds." 
    • "Last week, Patch broke the story of Gov. Chris Christie’s use of a state-funded helicopter to attend his son’s high school baseball game; national outlets including the NYT, WSJ, CNN, NBC News, ABC News, Fox News picked up the story and credited Patch."


Anonymous said...

I don't know much about the biz end of Patch, but, as a news consumer, I feel it's doing a good job covering the news. Patch is niche journalism and it's delivering what it promised - covering local events not on the radar of the shrinking traditional media. A few examples: the son of the founder of Foster City was interviewed on Foster City Patch after being shut out of other outlets. The Redwood City Patch disclosed vandalism at Union Cemetery as well as litter problems forcing removal of picnic tables at a local park. Also, it has good features on local sports and cultural events, say the recent Immigrant Festival.
Again, I'm no news exec but is there a Patch that is pulling in money?

Anonymous said...

For all of its good intentions, Patch comes off as a repurposed newspaper, and a dull one at that. They seem to strive at avoiding any personality or point of view. It's bland like TV news. Don't take a side, don't show any passion, don't even dare root for the home team in high school sports.

Anonymous said...

For the umpteenth time, LOCAL doesn't scale. AOL will fail.

Anonymous said...

Community papers such as the Berkeley Daily Planet are created by people who live in the community and care about the local issues. Patch is the opposite -- it was created by a giant corporation with a one-size-fits-all format. That's perhaps the reason the Patch sites come off as ersatz community papers with little passion. AOL should be lauded for creating these hyperlocal sites but it seems doubtful that many people today would miss their local patch site if it went out of business.

Anonymous said...

This is going to sound mean, but I see Patch as extended unemployment benefits for laid off journalists. Instead of collecting unemployment, they're living off of money AOL has in the bank. When that runs out, Patch will close. Kind of sad, but I don't think Patch is sustainable, at least as a business.