ReadMedia, which has made a business of distributing hundreds of thousands of locally-targeted press releases to media outlets across the country, is now trying to make a more direct play in online hyperlocal news. The 25-year-old company has historically sent its press releases, which include small items, such as news that a local student is enrolling in college or that somebody has won a lottery award, to newspaper reporters and editors, who then rewrite them and run them in their local papers. But the company is now beginning to syndicate its feeds directly to news sites, hoping that they can become a staple of their hyperlocal coverage.
ReadMedia’s first customer is the Hearst Corp.-owned Albany Times Union, which has been running headlines from ReadMedia on its network of hyperlocal sites as part of a six-month long trial. The Times Union‘s page for the town of Colonie, for instance, includes headers for “Soldiers in the news,” “Students in the news,” and “Local lottery news” — all of which list headlines that come directly from ReadMedia.
ReadMedia CEO Colin Mathews says the stories may sound trivial (and they’re certainly as dry as can be), but there is interest in the items among visitors to hyperlocal sites; just under four percent of visitors to the Times Union‘s local sites, for instance, have clicked on ReadMedia content. For now, ReadMedia is not running ads on the content or charging local sites to list its releases, but Mathews says the company will do so eventually as it begins to add more partners. He also expects the amount of money ReadMedia generates by directly distributing the content to third-party sites to surpass what it has been making from charging customers to use its software to distribute their releases.
The company, which was previously known as Empire Information Services, has raised $1.55 million last year from several angel investors, including Morningstar founder Joe Mansueto, former Monster.com CEO David Hosokawa and ex-DoubleClick executive Stuart Larkins.