Local News – Where It’s At For Advertisers?

A recent study from Frank M. Magid Associates, Inc. and Hearst Television, Inc., sends a hopeful message to local news media–and an educational message to advertisers (local and otherwise), I think. The study, reported by Marketing Charts, indicates that 49% of respondents consider local news as the most “major part of their daily routine.”

The results were gratifying to me because while the director of corporate communications for two large (at least in our community) firms we relied heavily on the use of advertising during local news broadcasts primarily because we thought–and our agencies affirmed–that this was the best place/time to capture the interest of our market which in both cases (an energy utility and a health care organization) were both local and broad-based in terms of demographics.

With the segmentation of media today into so many different channels and target groups it can be very challenging for advertisers of any size to determine where to best place their messaging. Online opportunities offer great potential and the ability to very narrowly target specific segments, but for many advertisers it seems there may still be opportunities to take advantage of the reach and impact afforded by local television advertising.

And, while this study seems to be TV-centric, the same is likely to be true of advertising in the local newspaper (not so sure about radio which has become less and less localized in terms of news coverage over the years).

Despite–or perhaps because–we’re living in such a global market, the drive toward “all things local” seems to be increasing. The “buy local” movement – the focus on purchasing food products from local farmers and vendors – the localization of web search. As our world grows bigger, it seems, there may be a yearning for the small, familiar and simple.

It’s an interesting phenomenon I think and one that is likely to continue to grow. What does it mean for communicators–whether they’re communicating via advertising or other means? I had a few takeaways:

  • Traditional advertising may not yet be dead (in fact, I’ve seen some recent reports suggesting that advertising may be on an upswing).
  • People are interested in the news and, specifically, in their local news. (I think this is important for media outlets in terms of what they choose to cover–should the local paper focus on national/international news or might there be more opportunity to do more in-depth features related to local news? but, I digress…).
  • In addition to advertising, people and companies that can become part of the news (e.g. through media relations and PR efforts) can generate even more valuable exposure.
  • Follow the numbers. It’s too easy these days to get swept up into the groundswell of movement online to communicate with everyone from celebrities to the local doctor. While we can’t ignore and should certainly explore all communication opportunities, it’s never wise to discount the traditional without considering the numbers!

And, speaking of numbers, our recent white paper Designing Effective Business Metrics offers some very practical advice for businesses on what to track, and how to track it, in terms of their communication efforts.

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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