The New EQ Town Hall: An Open Forum for You to Be Part of St. Louis Media

Back in the early 1600s Town Hall meetings were a way for residents to have a voice in the important issues of the day. Which makes it highly appropriate for EQ to refer to our new meeting format for interacting with the business community as the “EQ Town Hall.”

These meetings are scheduled for the first Thursday of every month at Venture Café, and designed to create an open forum for anyone who has an interest in the future of St. Louis, to join in an important discussion about the opportunities to evolve our business ecosystem and support the growth and development of the region.

The first EQ Town Hall had a full house and a range of representation – from storytellers and videographers to founders, directors, and entrepreneurs. We opened the discussion with a request for input on what everyone thought the St. Louis region needed from a media company.

What St. Louis ‘Preneurs Want and Need

Melissa Grizzle, Director of Entrepreneur Development at ITEN, picked up that thread with an impassioned request for coverage and programs that elevate the perception of St. Louis both inside and outside of the region.

It’s kind of a St. Louis trait to claim underdog status as a bragging right, but Grizzle makes the point that local media could do more to highlight the positive impact of the business community. She feels that what is needed is representation for the entrepreneur community from inside the entrepreneur community and that EQ has stepped up to meet that need.

A lively discussion followed about all the different types of organizations and individuals represented in the business community. Entrepreneurs, intreapreneurs (which the group agreed will play a huge role in creating the economy of the future) solopreneurs, socialpreneurs, and so on.

Internally, EQ simply uses ‘preneurship as an all-inclusive term for the wide spectrum of business leaders and risk-takers who are playing a role in business today. Yet, in exactly what we had hoped we would get out of the meeting happened: Jacob Krato, of Big Forest Pictures, suggested “omnipreneur” as a catch-all term. We loved the suggestion and may use it in future!

There was a lot of input from the group about how EQ, as a local media company devoted to ‘preneurs, could lead and curate the discussion, as well as how we can all work together to augment initiatives throughout the region.

The upcoming EQ Leadership Labs @MDMC mini-conference is as an example of the kind of partnership that EQ would like to participate in and facilitate in collaboration with the community.

There were plenty of suggestions of other opportunities that we could pursue such as:

  • working with Venture cafe’s EdHub community
  • providing companies with best practices for promoting articles or news coverage in which they are featured
  • collaborating on stories with other media outlets such as St. Louis Public Radio or Channel 9 TV
  • coordinating with government staffers to provide a better understanding of the challenges and successes of the business community

News Isn’t Just About Unicorns

As the only businesses that seem to get media attention are companies having huge wins (or bitter defeats), we wanted to check whether human interest stories or articles about small successes were meaningful.

A rousing discussion followed about how a media company like EQ could inspire ‘preneurs through their choice of content. There was a lot of enthusiasm for highlights on the daily challenges, failures, lessons, and triumphs.

As Ken Stricker said so succinctly, “How can a business live large if it can’t learn how to live small?”

The group clearly felt that those “small” stories help business learn to live, big or small. Integrity was also an issue seemed to resonate with everyone in the room. According to Doug Curtis of Clockwork Productions, “The biggest plague on journalism is integrity.”

One of the ideas we were able to test audience reception to in the Town Hall was that EQ has rejected, and will continue to reject, the online ad-dependent, pageview-driven business model. We do have things that look like advertising on the site, like banner ads, but aside from our partnership with LockerDome, we do not run any performance based advertising.

That enables the publication to avoid economic incentives that are not aligned with our core storytelling mission. By not aligning our economic incentives with page views, EQ can resist resorting to tactics like “if it bleeds it leads” or shock and scandal. Additionally, our plans for EQ extend far beyond the confines of article-based media journalism.

Join the Conversation with EQ

Our plan is to not only continue with these Town Hall meetings and large-scale events such as EQ Leadership Labs, but to also offer live and virtual connections, conversations, and training on everything from editorial beats to trends and opportunities in the ecosystem, to leadership, and media literacy, through the EQ Community Network platform.

To borrow a phrase I hear Dan Lauer from UMSL Accelerate a lot, “we’re literally building this plane as we fly it.” By which I mean to say that we are continually adding new features and applets into the EQ Community Network. There’s never a better time to sign-up than now!

The initial phase of extending EQ’s collaborative service offerings to the public is through a free EQ Community Membership where members can:

  • access a resource map of the St. Louis region ecosystem
  • request to join an Editorial Briefing
  • set up an Author Profile for future article submissions
  • add to the discussion thread for future Town Hall meetings
  • get exclusive invitations to free member events and steep discounts for events like EQ Leadership Labs

The next EQ Town Hall meeting is Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 5PM in the James Crutchfield room at Venture Café which takes place in the CIC building at 4240 Duncan Ave. You can join that conversation and take advantage of the other membership benefits by joining the EQ Member Community at

Mentioned in this Article

Jonathan Allen is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of EQ. Formerly the President and Co-founder of Longneck & Thunderfoot (L&T), a brand publishing company incubated at the Columbia University Startup Lab in NYC, Jonathan moved to St. Louis in the summer of 2016 after receiving an Arch Grant.