The power of local news (and why you shouldn’t ignore it)

29 June 2022  |  Insights
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When it comes to delivering PR campaigns, securing news coverage at a national level is often a top priority. But getting attention at a local level also has its benefits – some you may not have considered before.

If you are encouraging people to take a tangible action like attending an event, volunteering, or community support, securing stories in news outlets dedicated to the community you’re targeting is often the best way to reach them. Local coverage can also fit into the bigger picture of a national integrated campaign.

Jersey Road PR works with organisations that have included a digital or paid social media campaign running alongside local PR. Showcasing stories of local impact and using those for social media can help drive the awareness of a campaign. It invites people to make a direct call to action in their communities.

And what is more, local media is a trusted source of news.

In a 2021 poll from Opinium for the Public Interest News Foundation, 58 per cent of people in the UK would trust a news organisation based in their area covering local news, compared with an outlet that is based outside of the local community.

So how does local coverage help you to reach your target audiences and make an impact? Here are five benefits and some of the ways it can make a difference.

1. Local news can be a better way to reach people who will take action.

Letting people know about relevant local events and services means they are more in tune with what’s happening right on their doorsteps.

It allows people to feel more active in their local areas and to see more easily how they can take practical actions to help their communities.

2. Local news can have a stronger impact

After reading the story of a lady who had debt and money worries but was helped by Christians Against Poverty (CAP), a woman picked up the phone to her local CAP centre. If that story had not been in the paper, this woman may not have got the help she needs.

We have also been working alongside Welcome Churches on its UKHK project, welcoming people coming to the UK from Hong Kong thanks to a new visa scheme. Because of local coverage in six areas across the UK, thousands of people gathered together at the events, sharing their stories and receiving support and advice for settling into a new country.

3. Local news can be easier to secure

Securing national coverage can be a difficult task when you are competing against larger global stories such as the war in Ukraine or the Covid crisis. The competition isn’t as fierce for local media. For a local news outlet, having a story which is native to their patch or has a strong local angle is far more significant and can have a bigger impact.

On top of this, local reporters and journalists probably live in or near your community, so it can be easier to build good relationships with them.

4. Local news can be good for practicing your interviewing skills

Local news is the starting place for great journalism.

While it is essential to be well prepared for every interview, engaging in local news can give your organisation’s spokespeople a chance to put into practice their interviewing skills. It’s an environment that’s usually not as intense as coming face-to-face with a high profile national broadcaster.

Also, in some cases national journalists are looking for examples of other interviews you may have done before they have you on their programme, so try to take every opportunity you have.

5. Local news can be a starting point for more widespread coverage.

Depending on your story, who you wish to target, and what you want them to do, there are copious amounts of local media outlets you can reach out to. If your story is then shared on their social media platforms it has much more potential to reach more of your target audience.

Also, local reporters can be a helpful route to national news outlets. It's widely known that there have been cutbacks in newsrooms with many journalists and writers freelancing for other outlets - and local newspapers are usually part of a wider group of media who share stories with each other. Therefore the connections and networks journalists have can increase your coverage very easily.

Written by Laura Nelson, PR Account Manager, Jersey Road PR.

Case study

Here’s an example of how a locally driven PR campaign can make impact at community level. Christians Against Poverty’s #Breakfree campaign was an integrated campaign alongside digital marketing.

Following a report from the charity that revealed 45 per cent of its UK clients didn’t know where to seek help with problem debt, CAP approached Jersey Road PR to help raise awareness of its debt services and drive referrals to its centres.

We were asked to develop a campaign that boosted the profile of CAP debt centres in five areas of the UK with particularly low referral rates: Scotland, East of England, North East England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

We rolled out the campaign in three main phases across the target areas, approaching local media with case studies and using newsjacking to provide them with spokespeople for hot topics.

The campaign landed significant media coverage across the target regions, cementing CAP’s position as a thought leader in a crowded media space.

During the six-month campaign, referrals increased by 75 per cent in Scotland, 83 per cent in the East of England, 70 per cent in Wales and 84 per cent in Ireland and the North East, where the team reported that the project played a pivotal role in seeing them virtually at capacity.

Susan Littlemore, Senior PR Manager at CAP said: “Jersey Road were superb at gaining a quick understanding of our project's objectives, providing support to our frontline teams and working sensitively with our clients to deliver a successful UK-wide PR campaign.”

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How to engage with your local media

Securing local media coverage is an excellent way to raise your profile in your community, build trust and encourage people to take action. Here are five steps to help you get great local media coverage:

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