Dallas Morning News partners with Slingshot to create Speakeasy marketing service
The Dallas Morning News and Dallas advertising agency Slingshot LLC are launching a new marketing and promotions joint venture that will create and manage campaigns for local and national brands.
Called Speakeasy, the agency will use social media such as Facebook and Twitter and will also have access to the complete archives of The News, allowing clients to post stories related to their products and services on their own sites.
Speakeasy says it does “content marketing delivered via smart social media.”
In an interview, president Mike Orren explained that a garden supply company might want to post articles from The News about gardening tips, or a real estate company might want to post articles about local neighborhoods. Freelancers will also generate content, including video, for clients.
“It’s more about positioning yourself as the expert in the space you’re in and less about me, me, me,” Orren said, explaining the concept of content marketing and how he views it differently from promotional copy, referred to as advertorial.
“It’s a little softer sell than advertorial,” said Orren, founder of the hyperlocal online information provider Pegasus News.
Jim Moroney, publisher and CEO of The News and chairman of Speakeasy, said allowing the new marketing agency’s clients to use material from the newspaper is just a continuation of current practice.
For example, he said, if a real estate firm wanted to reprint an article in its company newsletter, The News would give permission. The headline and complete story must run without editing or other changes.
“In a lot of ways, social media is a content war,” Moroney said. “Having good content about your company and your industry is very helpful in how you gain visibility.”
He said The News has a “tremendous repository of great content.”
Moroney said he and Owen Hannay, founder of Slingshot and CEO of Speakeasy, began talking in December about creating the joint venture. The News is majority owner.
“We have felt for a long time that, executionally, social media needs a publishing partner, and we can think of no better partner in that activity than The Dallas Morning News,” Hannay said in a written statement.
Moroney said Speakeasy is in keeping with The News’ goal of diversifying its sources of revenue as print newspaper advertising continues to decline.
Earlier this year, The News, owned by A.H. Belo Corporation, acquired Pegasus News, launched an event-marketing division called CrowdSource, and created 508 Digital to offer digital marketing solutions to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“We have to pay for the scale of the newsroom that we employ, and I’m not confident that advertising alone will be able to do that over the next decade,” Moroney said.
Moroney declined to give financial specifics about the Speakeasy deal, but he said the revenue potential is probably less than for 508 Digital, which is expected to grow to $18 million to $20 million a year by 2014.
Orren said Speakeasy will begin with about a half-dozen employees and carefully ramp up as it adds clients.
An entry-level package for a client, Orren said, would begin at about $2,000 a month. He emailed a copy of a sales pitch aimed at car dealers. The multi-location package was priced at $2,995 a month for the first location and $1,200 a month for each additional brand or location.
It included management of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ social media, a separate blog for each location with two posts per week of locally generated content and two from The News or brand-focused special promotions, reputation management, comparison metrics and competitor reports.
Moroney said The News’ reputation and credibility make it a good partner for Speakeasy. He was asked what impact, if any, Speakeasy would have on that reputation and credibility.
“It will enhance it as an innovator in the newspaper industry,” he said in an email.