Call me provincial?

August 11, 2008

I’ve got a deeply unfashionable secret.

I subscribe to my local newspaper.

Not so unusual, you say? How about if I told you it was my local newspaper from Northumberland- the Hexham Courant? Sent to me every Friday, every week.

It covers all the big stories; a new swimming pool, wind farms, post offices, sheep prices and local sports teams. Why do I want to read this, despite being 300+ miles away? Is it just because I’m an odd individual? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

It’s about the level of engagement. I am engaged by my home community. My school rowing club, who I competed for. The local history society, which I’m a member of. The local businesses I support and shop with. The people I know and socialise with. The countryside I enjoy. Do I feel this engagement with the stories in the Times, or on BBC News? Of course not.

As a PR it’s easy to overlook regional and local media’s significance. It doesn’t have the glamour of an FT hit. It doesn’t give your evaluation figures an instant boost from the huge viewing numbers of BBC Breakfast.

But it does matter to people. They read every page. They discuss it around the kitchen table, in the pub, and at the supermarket. Getting your story into those local pages, onto those regional broadcasts, puts your client, your message, your spokesperson, into an environment where people care and notice.

Get provinical. Sexy? No. effective and engaging? Yes.

2 Responses to “Call me provincial?”

  1. Craig McGill Says:

    See, I’ve always considered locals good for a couple of reasons:
    1) Some of them are easy hits
    2) For clients it can tick off a CSR box as much as anything
    3) While it may not have the kudos of the FT, for the readers of the local paper, it may as well be the FT because they give it more credibility than the nationals.

  2. aidan warner Says:

    You’ve made me look at the Hexham Courant website. It’s been 17 years since I lived in Hexham, but I still have the fondest memories. If they had an RSS feed… but they don’t.

    You’re completely right about local media, though. It’s more often what media should be: responsive, engaging, involving. The reason people feel distant from and cynical about national media (and why niche media, blogs yadda yadda, insert paradigm here, are flourishing) is because so much national media is London-centric. It’s a shame that local media jobs are undervalued and underpaid. And, I’d say, that too many local media outlets aren’t adapting sufficiently to online.

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