Deciding to invest in earned media for your organization or campaign is a big step to take. Just like any other investment, everybody wants the most bang for their public relations buck— which is why a lot of folks instinctively want to focus on scoring coverage with the big guys, like the New York Times or the Washington Post.
While there is unquestionable value in getting covered by marquee national publications, it’s important to know your audience and where your message will be the most effective in reaching the right people. Here are a few reasons you shouldn’t ignore local news when planning your next public relations campaign:
Local news is more trusted than national media. 41 percent of registered voters have greater trust in their local news outlets to report the truth, compared to just 27 percent who said they have more faith in national news coverage. In an age of fake news and the constant undermining of the fourth estate by #notourpresident, it’s more important than ever to meet people where they already are. Literally. By appearing in the paper that gets delivered to their doorstep each morning.
Humans, ye olde creatures of habit, love the familiar. If you see an article or op-ed from a progressive figure next to a sports story about your neighbor’s kid scoring 20 points in the recent middle school basketball game, you might be more likely to both pay attention to and trust the message.
Your communication outreach method should match the nature of your organization. Grassroots movements are thriving right now. Whether you’re one of the many progressive organizations working strictly at the local level or you’re addressing geographically-specific issues from the national perspective, focusing on getting coverage in local papers is a way to make sure your message—like your movement— is sprouting from the ground up.
Your connection to voters is more authentic. Even if you’re not physically living in the area you’re focused on, reaching out to local papers in any given city requires doing research about the issues and culture of its inhabitants rather than just musing from afar in some fancy national news source. And if you are living in said place— well, then you have all the more reason to invest in your own home’s resources like the local paper.
Not everyone has reliable access to the Internet. About 63 million, or 16 percent, of U.S. residents live in rural America. While rural Americans increasingly embrace digital technology, many still rely on local newspapers to provide them with news. Rural residents, who are 10 percent less likely to have broadband and smartphones than urbanites, need and deserve access to progressive messages just like everyone else.
Local press hits help build national awareness. Just like any other news organization, national sources want to know what people are talking about— that’s why scoring a few local hits can help generate national coverage. Plus, a local news story will often end up at the top of a Google search thanks to those mysterious things called algorithms, making a local hit just as valuable as a national one.
Focusing on local papers helps show them the respect they deserve. The folks working at local newspapers are invested in their community. By keeping them in the loop, you demonstrate that you’re invested in their community, too.
Are you ready to start earning some sweet, sweet media attention? Send me a message here.