Mary Willson
Aug 2 · 5 min read

Mary Willson, 6AM City Process, Product + Training Manager

18,000,000+ newsletters read. 175,000+ subscribers. 725,000+ total audience. I know, I know, vanity metrics.

But, the 200k+ monthly engagements (comments, likes, and shares), 300+ daily feedback emails, and over 100 active monthly advertisers is what makes us think we’re on the right path and ready to keep growing.

We’re now 36 months old, 26 employees strong, 6 cities deep, operating in 4 states. (Plus chewing gum and trying to juggle at the same time…)

Meet 6AM City, a growing network of local editorial newsletters, with its headquarters based in South Carolina. 📪

Co-founders Ryan Johnston and Ryan Heafy have lead with scalability in mind from day one. We’ve launched our signature product — an easily digestible, accessible and free newsletter — in six cities across four states since 2016.

Our focus: To educate and activate our communities and our advertising partners’ customers.

  • The model is not new. TheSkimm, The Hustle, Sports Internet (Now Axios Sports), Morning Brew, Daily Pnut, Market Snacks (Now Robinhood Snacks), Need2Know, Next Draft and many more have laid the groundwork for building newsletter brands with passionate and engaged audiences. We are trying to take a similar approach in delivery but with a local audience. These brands and their work have been influential to our approach.
  • The vision has always been bigger than simply creating a better version of digital local media. 6AM was created to facilitate relevant and engaging conversations in our communities, and most importantly to be experts in the narration, packaging and distribution of our communities’ content. 📲
  • 6AM has taken the old journalism saying “write to be read” and has evolved it to “create to be consumed.”
  • As a business this meant launching a daily newsletter as our core product, focusing on delivering everything our audience should know that day. Our newsletters go out at 6 a.m. every weekday morning. (Get the name?)😏
  • We hoped this consistent delivery and content packaging would be habit forming and built to grow organically. A brand that delivers trust in delivery and personality.
  • We lead with engagement. Our local teams are continuously in conversation with our communities throughout the day via social media(much of our content is inspired by questions from readers). We’ve built engagement modules into our product so we can interact with our audience daily, right in our newsletters.
We’ve built engagement modules into our product so we can interact with our audience daily, right in our newsletter.

6 cities in 3 years: A timeline

  • July ‘16: GVLtoday | Greenville, SC
  • Feb. ‘17: COLAtoday | Columbia, SC
  • Feb. ‘18: AVLtoday | Asheville, NC
  • Feb. ‘18: CHStoday | Charleston, SC
  • Aug. ’18: LALtoday | Lakeland, FL
  • Aug. ‘18: NOOGAtoday | Chattanooga, TN
  • Within all of this, we’ve launched a community contributor platform called Voices, monthly organic event calendars (we call these PlanAhead guides), a robust list of guides to help readers experience their cities, a Branded Content Studio to develop content for our advertisers, and a Homes, Jobs and Events listings platform which is a new spin on classifieds. Oh, and we just launched a scalable membership perks program in Greenville, S.C. this month. Meet GVL+.👇

Meet the team

Each brand is run by a two-person team with an office in each local market. They are our boots on the ground, our market experts, and are at the center of what we do.

Our 6AM team (including Sales Representatives, Client Services, Graphic Design, Growth + more) supports the biz side of what we do, allowing our local teams to do what they do best… participate locally.

Meet them (and the rest of our crew) here.

Left to right: Mayor of Columbia reppin’ COLAtoday, Sean from NOOGAtoday on the morning news, Ali with AVLtoday touring a new art museum, the AVLtoday team ziplining, Original Conversations Manager Nikki before repelling from a building for a local fundraiser, the Charleston office enjoying their city, Miranda from COLAtoday and an office dog, GVLtoday at a local street festival, Growth Editor Logan showing off our GVL made merch line.

What’s next

We’re excited about the future of local media. We believe in the power of having “Pride In Place” (one of our core values, which is basically loving your city) and we’re dedicated to educating + activating local communities by delivering the best local daily content. Nieman Lab thinks we might have the potential to truly unlock civic engagement in local cities, and we’re working toward that goal everyday.

We’re planning to launch in more cities in the very near future. But, more on that later. 😉

In the meantime — Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram + LinkedIn as we start digging into telling the story of who we are.

6AM City

6AM is engaging local communities by creating new ways to consume, participate, and share local content. We do newsletters in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida. (And more, soon!)

Mary Willson

Written by

Process, Product + Training Manager at 6AM City. Always learning new things, passionate about local media and startup leadership. 📲MWillson@6AMcity.com

6AM City

6AM City

6AM is engaging local communities by creating new ways to consume, participate, and share local content. We do newsletters in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida. (And more, soon!)

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