Local news readers feel a strong attachment to their community, so news close to home will engage them – and the effects of a story can even ignite local campaigns.
Why? The top three factors that make a story newsworthy are timing (it needs to be new), significance (the number of people affected by the story) and proximity – the closer the story hits home, the more important it is.
My first job after university was at a local newspaper in the small Swedish town of Borlänge, and I learnt that the proximity factor was the most prominent one. I doubt a national paper would have covered the story about a cat that ran away, was spotted five kilometres away from home and then found its way back home a month later? True story, I wrote about it and the story got half a page of coverage complete with photos of the middle aged couple embracing their beloved furry returnee!
Apart from the benefits of your story reaching highly engaged readers, a hidden bonus of coverage in local media is that there is a big chance of the story going national as well.
Case in point, when we collated the 2013 sales data for our sexy client Femplay, Cairns – or the postcode of 4870 – proved to be the biggest online purchasers of sexy goods in the past year. On second shared spot with Sydney was Mackay. We pitched the news both locally and nationally, but the biggest coverage we received was local – with the cover of the Cairns Post being my personal favourite.
The next day, the rest of the media jumped on the bandwagon. TV, radio and online news – the snowball effect of media coverage was fabulous.
The thing is newsrooms all over the country follow what the local media cover. If they see something they like they will cover it too. Another example is the story of our fab Junior PR Executive Riley’s story in the Manly Daily. She had been attacked by sea gulls, shared her story with the Manly Daily, made it to the front cover – and the next day, journalists were ringing to get her on the radio to talk about the matter.
As a matter of fact, Riley’s Manly Daily seagull attack story could have ended up in the Daily Telegraph’s print issue easily. On a daily basis, the local papers’ editors send their news list of what they will be covering to the News Director of Daily Telegraph. He has a look at it and might decide the story is worth more coverage, and will pull the news from the local paper, and print it in the Daily Telegraph instead – and bang, you’re story has got massive coverage.
If it goes online on the Daily Telegraph’s website, chances are good affiliated online news portal News.com.au will pick it up, and suddenly, your story has become national!
In other words, don’t neglect the local papers when pitching your story because it might very well end up being a national story.