Opinions are constant, said Jeff Rohr, CEO of the Kansas City startup SquareOffs. As social media consumers look for new ways to voice a plethora of differing views, Rohr said he and his company have inked a major deal with News-Press and Gazette Co. (NPG), that could overhaul the public polling conducted by local news outlets.
“It’s a really great fit for us,” Rohr said of the partnership, which is now being piloted at KTVZ-TV in Bend, Oregon. “With local news, you know, you really want to get people involved in the community.”
Getting users involved in local conversations is a top priority for SquareOffs — a micro-debate platform that increases user engagement and revenue for customers and allows them to give in-depth commentary on public polls — Rohr said.
“Publishers, especially in the last six to eight years are really pressured to get content out quickly and it’s a 24/7 news cycle. The use of SquareOffs is kind of a quick way to gauge the audience opinion on breaking news topics as well as to get ideas for follow-up stories,” Rohr said of the product’s ability to enhance newsrooms and the overall process of newsgathering.
The application also allows news companies to turn social engagement into revenue, he said.
“We’ve seen so much conversation go down on places like Facebook and Twitter and these news sites don’t own the data or the monetization if they’re not keeping the conversation on their own website,” Rohr explained.
SquareOffs’ partnership with NPG connects the company to 45 TV stations across the United States, including NPG’s headquarters, which is located just outside of the metro in downtown St. Joseph — a connection Rohr hopes to foster in the future.
“We’d be very excited to work with the St. Joe site,” he said. “It’s always great to have local partners that you can meet face to face.”
Any future work with stations in St. Joseph and others in the NPG family will depend on the success of SquareOffs’ pilot program at KTVZ-TV, Rohr revealed.
The SquareOffs CEO said the station has so far been pleased with the partnership.
“They do about 2 million page views a month [and have] a very active audience and they do a very healthy amount of comments,” Rohr said of the station.
As the company’s pilot program progresses in Oregon, Rohr said he is focused on showing NPG what SquareOffs’ technology is made of. The CEO is hopeful the company has found its niche with local news but plans to take the prospect of any future partnerships one day at a time.