Holly Barry
Holly Barry 13 November 2019

The Power of Regional PR

The ways in which news is provided and how we consume and read it is changing faster than ever before. While we wonder what will be wrapping our fish and chips in, in the not-so-distant future, the world of digital is bringing exciting potential to our beloved news providers.

Regional at risk

In 2018, Press Gazette released a statistic that 245 titles had closed in the UK between 2005 and 2019. And so, the government announced a review into the future of the newspaper industry, recognising the vulnerability of our titles across the country. Earlier this year the report, headed by Dame Frances Cairncross, was published and recommended that a range of financial subsidies should be put in place to support regional journalism. A stand-out area where this investment should be focussed, was to retain local news coverage.

Google gives a 'laudible' helping hand

The British Government isn’t the only body keen to support regional news providers either. Google launched its ‘News Initiative’, pledging $300m over three years to support journalism business models in the digital age. Part of this funding has already been invested to launch Laudable, a project designed to kick start local news in audio form, in the UK.

Soon to be piloted, the initiative will see local news publishers collaborating on creating podcasts. Journalists under ReachPLC, which includes titles such as Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo and Bristol Post, and also under JPIMedia which includes titles such as The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post, will come together to discuss national issues that have an impact at local level.  

A connection to the community

With this growing interest and campaigning from major global players, ‘why’, you might ask yourself, ‘is local reporting so important?’ Well, today we have access to an abundance of information, anywhere, anytime, any subject. However, people do, on the whole, still trust their local newspaper to tell them what is really going on in their neighbourhood. It’s crucial to keep up with what is happening in the community that they are a part of, and so providing the stories that are real to them.  

No fear of 'fake news'

We’ve all seen the reports that there is a crisis over perceived ‘Fake News’ and increasingly there are only a handful of brands, like the BBC, that people turn to for general, top-line news so they can remain up to date with global happenings– whether it be social, political or environmental. But the trend of audiences reducing their trusted news sources has caused organisations to refocus on unique journalism.

This is where our regional outlets are one step ahead. They are already in the habit of featuring stories that have relevance to the towns and cities in which they are based. These media titles don’t need to get around the boardroom table and re-work their content strategy- they can build upon what they are already reporting on. Many regional media titles are extending their accessibility, as well as widening the potential to speak to new audiences, through launching their own social channels– and podcasts.

The idea of regional is spreading

Savvy brands and organisations are tapping into the concept of focussed regional activity – supporting national hero campaigns with supplementary activations that resonate with our county’s residents. Whether it be Comic Relief generating awareness of local charities through local fundraising initiatives, or Gregg’s celebrating traditional local delicacies with the rollout of a regional menu offering including the Devon Doughnut and the London Cheesecake. Its success derived by the fact it was distinct enough for regional audiences and therefore, tasty enough for their local papers to cover.

So, if you thought that regional newspapers are only to be found in doctors and dentists waiting rooms around the country to help pass the time, think again. The engaged audiences are there, reading the print version, searching the online version, consuming every article on their local goings-on and trusting in their opinions and the people and the brands they are talking about.

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