As mobile readership continues to skyrocket, multimedia journalism is becoming increasingly important. High-quality video content can catch a reader’s attention and drive them to publishers’ sites. But many newspaper companies are hesitant – or unable – to invest in this important part of their business because of the high costs associated with capturing original video.
Luckily, Stringr, a 2016 Accelerator Pitch Program winner, has a solution. Founded in 2014, Stringr allows major media organizations including publishers, broadcast organizations and entertainment businesses to source video content from its platform at a fraction of the cost of hiring a freelancer.
In addition to being able to search through archived videos, Stringr customers can also request custom video content. A publisher can log-in to the platform, drop a pin on a map, enter a deadline and request a certain type of footage. Stringr then leverages its more than 18,000 videographers nationwide to respond to the request and upload the footage to the platform.
Lindsay Stewart, founder of Stringr, believes this ease of delivery is key.
“Before, news organizations were hiring freelancers who could only go to one event and the price point was really high. Now, through a couple of clicks on your computer, you’re able to source custom content at a scalable price.”
A former TV producer at FOX News, Stewart started Stringr after noticing a void in the video production marketplace. She decided to go back to business school, where she had the opportunity to put this pain point in front of a number of other people – from business operations leaders to engineers to everyone in between – and come up with a way to solve the problem of sourcing custom video content.
Stewart realized that “stringers” – correspondents not on the regular staff of a news organization – would go out and shoot material out of their own volition and then try to sell it to newsrooms. But often times, this material was of little use to publishers and producers.
“Newsrooms were only getting the footage that was pushed upon them, and oftentimes there wasn’t a technological solution that was fast enough to deliver the content in a meaningful way – especially when working against tight deadlines. So I thought it would be great to have a marketplace of rights-cleared video content that we could peruse, and then all I would have to do, as a producer, would be to hit download and that would trigger a sale for the person who shot the footage.”
But after discussing the idea with her co-founder, Brian McNeill, Stewart realized she could take her solution even further.
“Brian suggested that we come up with a way to actually allow our customers to request the footage that they want. We could build a network of reliable videographers who we could reach out to very quickly for content all over the country. And so, with that idea in mind, we created Stringr.”
But just because it is easy to access does not mean that the quality of the footage suffers. Stringr’s thousands of videographers consistently provide top-notch, valuable content. Although anyone can sign up to be a Stringr, Stewart and her colleagues have taken key learnings from interactions with customers to better understand the types of people who provide the best footage. The company now recruits Stringrs within that subset of the population – and it still has about 250 people join the platform each week.
While Stringr has worked with major news organizations like The Washington Post, The Associated Press and Accuweather, it has relationships with smaller media companies, too. Stewart believes that, no matter the size, any newspaper publisher can benefit from the Stringr platform.”We work with a local outlet in Jacksonville who puts in four to five requests a day, and we deliver footage on all of those requests. They’re not only getting local footage, but they’re also getting footage outside of their market. The customers who have the best experience leverage all aspects of the platform and really make Stringr a part of their work flow to get exactly what they want – and we deliver it.”
When Stewart founded the company, she initially thought it would benefit television newsrooms, but as the business has grown, she sees the real impact the solution could have on the newspaper industry. Newspapers have always been known for their outstanding journalism and for their deep connection to their communities. But they often do not have the resources – both personnel and monetary – to build out video teams. Video can be a significant revenue generator, and with Stringr, newsrooms can reap those benefits without the heavy financial burden.
“We’re making it really easy for newspapers to experiment with video at a scalable price point. And that experimentation is a really important part of our value proposition. It’s hard to experiment when your price point is $1,000 dollars per video. But when you’re looking at $100 per video, you can afford to test things and find out what resonates with your readership. Publishers are well-positioned to take their editorial knowledge and their brands, which are the most respected in their local communities, and really push it to the next level.”
Part of a Series Featuring 2016 Accelerator Pitch Program Winners
Lindsey is the Communications Director for the News Media Alliance. Prior to joining the Alliance, she led communications for a food and nutrition nonprofit in Washington, D.C. for over eight years.