In the PR industry the media is a vital portal for reaching out to a variety of audiences and communicating with a large number of people. So it is not unusual that we frequently turn to our favourite media types over others, especially if they prove to be more successful in achieving consistent and high quality coverage.
The local press is a key media channel and one we have used successfully time and time again in both large national campaigns with local activity in every region and small local campaigns. We successfully achieved coverage in the local press for last year’s A38 Tunnels closure campaign. Widespread coverage in the Birmingham Post, Birmingham Mail, BBC Midlands Today and Radio WM as well the Express and Star led to a circulation of over 2.1 million and awareness levels of over 95%. More importantly the coverage helped us achieve behaviour change with a 7% increase in rail travel and 1.6% increase in bus journeys over the period equating to an additional 200,000 additional journeys on public transport.
However, local press is often forgotten and seen as a dying media, and with the arrival of the internet there was the speculation that local press would become out of date and overlooked by more modern forms of media. The internet and social media are most definitely here to stay but I strongly believe that this doesn’t mean print and newspapers have been made obsolete as a result – in fact the two are starting to work hand in hand.
The internet and social media have led to local news being consumed in a different way by a wider audience of people. Most local and regional media outlets have successful social media feeds and are seeing higher audiences on their websites as content is shared far and wide on social media.
According to YouGov (2014), who surveyed more than 2,000 adults, 67% of people rely on their local paper for local news. So, this really shows the power of local news, and why we as an agency value local newspapers as an effective method of communication.
Local newspapers have earned the trust and support of their readers so much so that they are trusted more than twice the amount of all other media. In fact, according to The Newspaper Society 52% of people agree that local media is the most trusted source of information, with 75% of the public believing that newspapers often publish stories they know are inaccurate or fabricated in order to encourage sales.
An example of this happened earlier this year (February 2014) when copies of The Sun newspaper were removed from sale at a south Wales newsagent’s shop because its front page is said to have outraged the local community.
According to the Llanelli Star, CKs in Pontyberem, Carmarthenshire decided not to sell The Sun as “a show of solidarity for the grief-stricken family of tiny Eliza-Mae Martha Mullane.” She was the six-day-old baby who was reported to have died after being attacked by the family’s dog, an Alaskan Malamute. Reading stories like this, it is not hard to understand why people trust their local newspapers, as unlike large national papers they aren’t competing for sales and don’t have hidden agendas (the Guardian 2014).
Local newspapers provide people with access to reliable news and updates concerning specific towns, villages and cities which is more important to those living there than any other media available to them. I know that I would rather read about a charity event in my local area than a sensationalised story concerning a Z-list celebrity…
With this knowledge at our fingertips it is clear why we still turn to local newspapers when working on campaigns as they have larger audiences than ever before, which appears to be due to the difference local press can make to the lives of individuals within a regional community, demonstrating that local news and updates remain highly valued by the public.