‘Be Your Own Boss’: Northcliffe Turns LocalPeople Sites In To ‘Franchises’

UK regional newspaper publisher Northcliffe Media was only paying its LocalPeople community publishers £4,800. ($7418.03) Now it wants those publishers to pay it.

The group is beginning a “franchise” model for sites in its hyperlocal network. “Franchisees” must pay Northcliffe at least £6,995 ($10810.24) plus VAT to run their own local site. For that, they would get keys to the site, the “ability to sell advertising space” themselves, a “marketing pack” and “handbook” and a whole three days’ training.

Your time and effort could earn you £5,000 ($7727.11) per month,” a Northcliffe promo video claims…


Operating on this model would see hyperlocal publishers operate as the commercial equivalent of an Avon make-up lady or driving instructor.

But would that really be so bad? There is a dearth of commercial success in the hyperlocal news sector despite years of altruistic enthusiasm, and this is at least a fresh take on the model. If grassroots local news is to pick up where industrial-scale conventional local newspapers are failing, big publishers aren’t necessarily the ones who can make a conventional-style success of the new area.

What’s going on here… ?

Northcliffe launched LocalPeople in 2009, employing a community publisher for each and an ad salesperson for each cluster of four to six sites. It hit 100 sites by June 2010 and planned to double that number by 2011. Bullish about the technology platform it has created, it has also tried white-labeling it around the world. It now lists 352 UK sites. This is now about scaling…

According to LocalPeople’s messaging to potential franchisees (via Jon Slattery)…

“Due to the outstanding success of localpeople in over 160 areas around the UK we have added a new model to continue our national expansion and we thought we’d share that with you.”

“As part of the Daily Mail (LSE: DMGT) and General Trust PLC it’s of the utmost importance to us to deliver a great service from the outset. We believe that no other franchise opportunity is this sector comes close to the level of resources, support and funding that localpeople has which means that you can be sure that we’ll deliver a great business.

“It does require an investment as all franchises do but it’ll provide you with an excellent opportunity to be your own boss and make a great income.”

You could be forgiven for thinking you had received a spam email: “Excellent work from home opportunity.” For Northcliffe, if not its publishers, might it be?