Why bother securing local and regional media coverage?
Never has the ability to access the latest news been so easy. A quick google search, a switching of the channels, or a scroll through social media and you’ll soon find yourself inundated with an endless cycle of breaking stories.
This has only been heightened by the coronavirus pandemic and the sheer number of social, health and economic news headlines being broadcasted every minute.
So, considering how fast paced this media industry has become, is local media still important? And – for our fellow PR professionals – are these titles still worth the attention?
Our media experience makes us think ‘yes’ – and here’s why:
Local media journalists understand their communities
The coronavirus pandemic, and its numerous lockdowns, has caused us to value our local communities now more than ever. Without the ability to go on holiday (aside from influencers who went to Dubai) or even venture out for a day trip, our local parks have become our places to relax and our local takeaway joints, our evenings out.
Local media has helped fuel this feeling. It helps us to understand our neighbourhood, and shares stories that binds us to it. For example, the success of the town football team, the progress of a local housing development, the ranking of nearby schools, or the fundraising success of a local hospice. It speaks on behalf of, and directly to, its readers.
In this same way, it can be an incredibly useful tool when promoting local services. For example, our client CarShop benefitted from local media when raising awareness of its new flagship store in Nottingham. Its coverage in go-to local publication, Nottingham Post, led to plenty of engagement by the store’s target audience themselves.
Local media stories are considered and careful
While all journalists have an interest in the stories they are working on, local journalists are impacted directly by theirs. So, there is more of an incentive to develop considered relationships with local contacts, as well as produce reliable and relatable content.
These journalists also have a small enough radius to cover that they can take a real deep dive into a story. They can keep tabs on its developments, interview relevant people to get different perspectives and even go back to it at a later date to get a retrospective viewpoint.
For example, our client Ashgate Hospicecare in Chesterfield has developed brilliant relationships with local journalists. This meant that, when it announced how it would be reducing its services as it struggled against COVID’s impact, local outlets such as Derby Telegraph, ITV News Central, BBC Radio Sheffield and Derbyshire Times covered the news extensively. In turn, the public reacted, and several fundraising campaigns were launched to ensure its survival.
If you’re in the North West area like we are, then great examples of this considered, local journalism can be found in Greater Manchester-based newspaper, The Mill.
Local media can often lead to national – and even international – PR coverage
National media outlets are constantly monitoring the news of local and regional media outlets – watching for a story that they can pick up and run with. Plus, local papers can tip-off a national outlet or press agency like PA when they think they’ve got a big story on their hands. So, don’t assume that just because you are speaking to a local media outlet, that your news won’t end up reaching a much bigger audience.
A perfect example of how media coverage can snowball like this, is the story of 14-year-old Billy Devine, whose mum was cared for by our client, Ashgate Hospicecare – which provides specialist palliative and end-of-life care across North Derbyshire. In September 2020, Billy’s beloved mum sadly passed away at the hospice, after a battle with cancer.
A few days before she passed, Billy sang a beautiful rendition of Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper with his friend, Ellie Marie Scott, in the hospice garden. A video of this heartfelt moment went viral and spread across social media and national publications such as LADBible, BBC News, and the MailOnline, after being picked up first by local press in the region.
Ultimately, a local newspaper is no longer just a round-up of news delivered to your doorstep once a week. It is so much more. The level of engagement that these local stories can provide, with your key target audience, is unparalleled.
And, if all of the above doesn’t convince you, engaging with local media can also be brilliant experience. That’s not to say it’s an easy ride – and it’s definitely still worth investing in some quality media training before you get started, but the effort is definitely worth it.