I just wanted to provide you a company update on how we are doing so far in 2023. Each market is performing and continues to do amazing work, which is impressive! One of these updates I am just going to list the name of everyone that works for us followed by a big thank you (of course after the results section 😊).
- Total company revenue in Q1 finished +27% to prior year.
- Digital revenue finished Q1 +32% to prior year.
- Same store advertising revenue in Q1 finished +10% to prior year. We posted our highest ad revenue ever as a company in March!
- Cash flow is strong, driven by healthy margins in February and March.
- Page views in Q1 finished +20.5% to prior year; users +19%. The core digital audience growth complimented by growing social media followers, email subscribers and holding print circulation relatively flat each month is very impactful to our current and future revenue performance.
Total revenue growth in 2023 is projected to finish +40% to prior year. Same-store total revenue and ad revenue is projected to finish in the +10-15% range to prior year. EBITDA margin will be somewhere in the 15-20% range, which is very healthy given the rising costs to operate the business and the tough-to-predict economy. These results provide us the ability to continue to invest in the business, complete acquisitions and service/pay down debt.
As I have noted several times in the past, make no secret about it. We are in growth mode, and it is a very exciting time to be working in the media industry, where producing local news and helping businesses with their advertising has never been more important!
Jade Lewandowski joined O’Rourke Media Group as Director of Sales. Jade brings a wealth of experience and knowledge, having worked in Sales for over 19 years. She has a proven track record of success in building and leading high-performing sales teams. Jade is responsible for leading our MN sales team and is also working closely with other departments to help create and improve processes.
Hannah Coyle was promoted to Community Editor in our Hudson market. She is responsible for the news content of the Star-Observer and the HudsonStarObserver.com, overseeing reporters, both those on staff and freelance writers while continuing to produce content in the city of Hudson. Hannah joined O’Rourke Media Group in June 2021 after graduating from DePaul University with a journalism degree. She has been a super star for the Star-Observer, covering a wide variety of stories from the ongoing issue of food insecurity in St. Croix County to the recent efforts by the Hudson school district to address its financial shortfall.
Heidi Goupil joined the company in Q1 as lead Staff Accountant, working remotely in the Greater Phoenix area. She is responsible for payroll, benefits, and accounting/bookkeeping for many of our markets. Heidi brings impressive experience to the company, which includes working at a digital marketing agency for seven years.
Ray Paul was promoted to General Manager of our business in Vermont. Ray does not have a traditional newspaper and media background. He joined O’Rourke Media Group-Minnesota in June of 2021 and has played a major role in rebuilding our ad revenue business in Cannon Falls and Red Wing, where we continue to post industry-leading ad revenue growth month in and month out. He understands the importance of our core business-print, digital, classified & print & design while having an eye on also growing the digital agency. Ray recently traveled to VT on a one-way commute/drive and is super-excited to call Vermont his new home!
Chad Richardson recently joined the company as our Vice President of News, filling a void that we have had in the Company since starting out on this journey. Chad brings a wealth of experience to O’Rourke Media Group. For the past 6+ years, he has worked for the International Wolf Center in several communications roles, mostly recently as Communications and Engagement Director. Prior to this job and for 16+ years, Chad held roles as news editor, publisher, managing editor and general manager with Rivertown Media, the company we acquired from Forum Communications back in January 2021.
Other Exciting News
Our first market in Vermont has gone live with Flip Pay, a new technology partner that enables us to more effectively interact and do transactions with readers by integrating our print and digital platforms. Flip Pay also provides us the tools to build 1st party data and consumer insights to position us to develop new reader and advertising revenue. We are in the process of moving Flip Pay forward in each OMG market with a goal to complete the project by the end of the year.
OMG Mega Market, a new quarterly print mass marketing publication, has really taken form in Minnesota/Wisconsin and Vermont, contributing significant advertising revenue growth in Q1. Plans call for continuing to produce these publications in 2023 while also expanding to additional markets.
Lead gen efforts in Advertising are really taking form and have helped to drive new revenue growth in Q1. We are getting more and more recognized as the go to source for helping local businesses with their digital marketing solutions needs! It is also great to see how many positive Google reviews are being posted in many of our markets.
We launched into a new market in Virginia with two print publications and a website. This initiative came to life to replace several weeklies and a business that went under back in February. We have nine employees in VA, and they are doing solid work producing engaging content and impressive advertising revenue right out of the gate!
We ended Q1 by completing the acquisition of Arkansas Valley Publishing, which is comprised of four paid publications, a TMC and an impressive line-up of niche and specialty publications. The transaction also included three commercial real estate properties. The transition into OMG is going exceptionally well and Colorado will be our second market where we will continue to print our newspapers at our production facility in Salida.
We are working on two additional acquisitions that will most likely be completed in Q2.
Plans are quickly coming together to bring back several print publications in our Vermont market. We are feeling confident about plugging a monthly print publication into our digital playbook. The News team has done an amazing job with developing the plan, and we are set to move forward towards the end of summer.
About the Company
O’Rourke Media Group, started in 2018, is a fast-growing company that owns and operates hyper-local, community newspapers, niche publications and a full-service digital agency. We are family-owned and mission-driven to save newspapers and local media companies by investing in the people, resources and technology needed to thrive for many years to come.
O’Rourke Media Group now operates in eight states with 31 publications and hyperlocal websites. News teams excel at producing unique content and useful information that fuels an engaged, growing audience across print and digital platforms. And, they have established themselves as a top-performing sales company in the industry.
A big welcome to our newest employees in Salida, Buena Vista, Fairplay, and Leadville Colorado.
Employees and teams across the company continue to amaze me with the work being done daily. I believe that we have the best performing Sales and News teams in each of our markets. I also believe that our support teams (in office, hybrid and remote) are the best of the best and do an amazing job day in and day out to help make everything go. Culturally, we are building a results-driven company and developing a cohesive team that just keeps getting better.
Please feel free to reach out to me directly anytime via phone, text, or email. And, thank you again for your hard work and dedication!