Why regional media still rocks

Stephen Davies recently asked “What does the future hold for the regional press?”. I’m actually quite optimistic about the future of the regional press and even more importantly I believe that it is vital that we all give it as much professional support as we can because it is essential to the future of society and local communities. The old mantra “think global, act local” is even more important today than it ever was.

Regional media in the UK is actually making a pretty good job of adapting to the changes introduced by social media and consumer generated media. In many cases they are well ahead of the nationals as these three examples show:

> Cumbrian Newspaper Group – the Evening News & Star in Carlisle was actually one of the first UK newspaper to introduce blogs on its site with contributions from readers. Last year Nick Turner, deputy editor, was interviewed about it by UK Press Gazette.

> Liverpool Daily Post has launched a standalone business news website that features RSS feeds and a weekly podcast with business editor Bill Gleason.

> Even my local weekly paper the Wakefield Express (where Philip Young started his journalistic career) has recently launched blogs and reprints snippets from them every week. This isn’t just a local initiative and is part of a bigger Johnson Press project.

If you think about what people are actually interested in and talk about down the pub or in the post office queue then it is often local stuff. Much of the massive growth in consumer generated media will be local and this could actually be a benefit for regional media. They can unearth stories that might have escaped them and highlight or expand on them.

The elephant in the room as Richard Bailey pointed out in a comment is classified advertising. Local papers depend on it and need to get a slice of it as it moves on-line. The threat isn’t actually the consumer generated media but e-bay and craigslist.

There is research that points to the fact that regional media is far more trusted by people than the national press. One client once won a million pound contract as a result of a lead from a story about a charity bike ride in a local weekly paper. The MD of the customer lived in the same village as the MD of the client. He’d never heard of the firm despite the fact that thanks to our work it regularly appeared in the trade and business press that he read. The difference was he liked his local paper and read more of it for enjoyment while he simply skimmed the business/trade press and read what he had to.

And finally on a semi-related topic dealing with the regional media is one of many areas where regional PR firms beat London PR firms. Most regional PR professionals can put together an effective regional media campaign anywhere in the country. It’s not just about knowing your local area but more about understanding what makes regional journalists tick. Speak to any regional journalist and they will be able to tell you horror stories of calls from clueless London PRs trying to pitch a story that doesn’t stand a snowball in hells chance of appearing.


About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
  • http://www.cmnw.co.uk/ Craig McGinty

    Like you I am a great fan of local newspapers but do think there are some worrying signs.

    The recent decision by Newsquest to start publishing 'evening' newspapers in the morning is going to see them drift further from their readers.

    You can't fool readers into thinking today's news wasn't actually produced yesterday.

    This attitude will leave a vacumn that an online competitor could quickly fill.

    And unfortunately most newspapers cut editorial when they need to save money – again reducing their connection with readers.

    And I agree that it will be those publishers who use the internet to 'connect' that will prosper, but I wonder how many are willing?

  • http://www.prblogger.com Stephen Davies

    Great points Stuart. Thanks for that.

    Doing a little research at work this week I noticed the Hartlepool Mail is introducing 'podcasts and downloads'.

    http://tinyurl.com/z96wx

    Not a lot to see just yet but looks like they're taking steps.

  • http://www.elleeseymour.blogspot.com Ellee

    I've been writing articles for the Cambridge Evening News business supplement on blogging. A local law firm blogs and the biz editor wants me to publish a book she has written by blogging. But the paper's news/web links are very poor and it does not have any blogs. I think every city should have its own community blog and the top local paper could do this.

  • http://theprplace.blogspot.com Richard Millington

    I work for a regional PR agency and I would like to think that our long standing relationship with the regional newspapers and radio with a range of clients in the area holds an advantage over any London based organisation hoping to get a lucky pitch. We try to keep some sort of schedule, e.g. release news about a certain client at the same time each week so the rpess know to expect it. If we have something of particular importance we'll give them a call and be sure they are the FIRST to know. WE have even established three clients as regular contributors to the press.

    Trust on a regional company to provide the local media with relevant news in the format they expect it is better than any sort of glamour connected with a major london agency.