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Focus on with Dave Williams is a hyperlocal news site for the Welshpool area, set up by Graham Breeze, Dave Williams and Alan Davies last August. Here, Dave talks to us about how the side-project has grown, the importance of Facebook and his vision of the print newspaper industry in 5 years time.

About the publication:

Who reads it and how many of them are there? has become established as the premier source of news, sport, business and features for people living in and around the Welshpool area. We currently have around 1,000 computers logging on every day which translates into around 3-4,000 readers when you consider more than one computer uses an IP address and more than one person can use a computer (particularly in a household)

What subjects do you cover? What stories are you most interested in covering?

If it is of interest to us then it will be of interest to the reader. We don’t have pages to fill, we just pass on the news that we feel is of importance to the people of the area. It is always current, fresh and relevant.

What makes you different from the other outlets in your sector?

We are unique and consider ourselves as a local news service. This is no longer the future but the now for the way people get their local news. The latest newspaper sales again show dramatic declines in sales while we are enjoying incredible growth. We are free of charge and through our social network systems we can take the news to the reader and not make them have to search for it.

How do you decide the content and headlines?

As before, if it is of interest to the reader it will be posted. We are not politically motivated. We are completely independent and the readers appreciate this.

About PRs:

Do you work closely with PRs (e.g. for supplements, round tables, events) or do you keep them at arm’s length?

We work very well and very closely with PRs and press officers.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?

They have to understand that communication is two way. There is no consistency between organisations. While people like Powys County Council and Dyfed-Powys Police provide and exceptional services, others like the Welsh Assembly and Tesco are nothing short of awful.

How should a PR approach you about their client?

Make it interesting and newsworthy and do a little research on the site. No point trying to sell us a story for something that is off our patch which happens. Just remember to put yourselves in the position of the reader and ask yourself: “would I find this interesting?”. If the answer is no then either find another angle or scrap it and try again.

What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?

Regular contact is vital. Providing upcoming announcements/events is very useful. But again, we are in the business of churning out interesting news as quickly as possible. Just remember this point at all times and see how you can fit into that equation.

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & what is your deadline for contributions?

We are 24 hours a day so we don’t mind at all. Email is always best.

About you:

Describe a typical day at work: What are you editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet?

All of us involved have ‘day jobs’ so mywelshpool is run as a side project. We handle everything editorially while we have a technical genius who keeps the site ticking over.

What interests you most about your job?

We are at the leading edge of change. Hyperlocal web sites are popping up all over the country and proving extremely popular. Eventually the newspaper groups will concede and try to swallow us up but for now it is a fantastic ride which we are thriving on. The feedback is incredible and people feel they are a part of what we are doing.

Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?

I am currently working in Jordan in PR and have a background in media, media relations, public relations and marketing. I left British newspapers in 1997 to work in Dubai for a newspaper and in 1998 moved into media relations and PR. For the last seven years I have worked as a media advisor in Jordan but these days base myself more in the UK.

Do you Twitter? Why, why not?

Yes we do. However, very few local people use this these days and it seems to be dropping. Facebook on the other hand is the key tool for us with all ages joining our group. We have nearly 2,000 members who all receive a tea-time bulletin directing them to the site.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Don’t follow in any footsteps, make some of your own for others to follow!

What media do you seek out 1st thing in the morning? or

If you could time travel what time would you go to?

In five years time when Britain’s last ever newspaper has been printed and MyTown opens its 500th local news site!!

[img|jpg|Co-founder, Dave Williams]