One the first day of the BIA/Kelsey NATIONAL conference, the women attendees wrapped up their day at BIA/Kelsey’s special networking session “Women Leading in Local.” Our speakers for this session were Tina Paparone and Angela Giovine, founders of Happenings Media. Angela and Tina shared their story and discussed techniques for successfully striking authentic chords within communities and keys to their revenue success — marketing solutions beyond the banner including sophisticated native advertising techniques.
Here are Tina and Angela’s four rules to live and work by:
1. FOLLOW YOUR PASSION: They say that a man (or of course woman) that follows their passion never work a day in their life. Bucks Happening actually didn’t start as a business; the website was simply a hobby, while we worked to build a different business. However, soon after launching, as readers were discovering the website, we received a call from a local print magazine who wanted to write a story on us. As we sat at the coffee shop trying to steer the conversation towards our “REAL” business, it became clear that 1) There was a real need for Bucks Happening and 2) We better start making money on it or stop spending so much time working on it! We quickly went to work on developing a business strategy.
It was at one of our first meetings with an advertiser that we had a moment of clarity. We were meeting with a local coffee roaster and cafe owner who was frustrated that he didn’t understand how to get his message to the community nor did he have the time to figure it out. As I listened to his story, I knew, “We can help.” We didn’t sit there and say “let’s be innovators in native advertising.” We simply said, what the best way to tell locals about this amazing coffee. And that included storytelling.
2. BOOTSTRAP: We both entered into entrepreneurship with our eyes wide open. As the famous start-up incubator Tech Stars likes to boast, it’s essential for the early-stage entrepreneur to remain “cheap to keep alive.” While it may not sound as sexy to start a business without millions of dollars of financing, doing things our own way, on our own dime, at our own pace allowed us to discover a path to success. Now we have a scalable model without having the collateral damage that a heavily funded company may experience. Moreso, we can take our bootstapping mentality and apply it to expand effectively.
3. IT’S OKAY TO BE AN OUTSIDER: We did not come from the media world. We are not journalist. But being outsiders allowed us to think outside the box. Our content, advertising, and business model were designed to fulfill a need without any preconceived notions of the way things had to be done. Especially in a time when the media world is shifting so dramatically, our ability to identify a problem and approach it with a fresh perspective is one of our biggest assets.
4. FOLLOW THEIR PASSION. Yes, our passion for what we do is crucial, but it isn’t just our own passion that drives growth; It’s harnessing the passion of others. This is a philosophy that we incorporate into almost everything we do — the articles we write, the campaigns we design, and the publishers that we support.
One great example of this is the creation of The Happening List, our annual People’s Choice voting competition, which is one of our most successful initiatives to date. We allow readers to vote for their favorite local people, places, businesses, and events. Through careful design and planning, this contest helps generated hundreds of thousands of email subscribers, massive branding awareness, and thousands of advertising leads.
BIA/Kelsey organized a special networking session during our LEADING IN LOCAL conference in the Fall of 2013. The initial meeting was such a success that the Women Leading in Local session has become a permanent installment at all of our conferences.