At least one sector is benefiting from the decline in newspaper sales – online publications. In particular, hyperlocal news sites which cater for individual cities, towns or postcodes.
These news sites have been popping up across the globe, and mix community news and issues with the fundamental characteristics of social media – encouraging readers to share content, comments and conversations.
In the US you have AOLs Patch which describes itself as “a community-specific news and information platform dedicated to providing comprehensive and trusted local coverage for individual towns and communities.”
Patch launched its 100th site in August, and is planning to increase to 500 sites spanning 20 states by the end of 2010.
In the UK, as well as independent sites covering slightly larger areas, such as Bristol247, there are also chain sites including publishing company Northcliffe’s Local People. Currently it has over 120 sites covering areas across the UK.
And, although there is some scepticism on the commercial viability of these sites, they only appear to be growing.
But what role can they play in your PR campaign and why are they important?
As an industry we’re already moving away from traditional media and embracing all things social – there’s no reason why hyperlocal news sites can’t also become a powerful part of the communications mix.
For national campaigns it could perhaps prove more difficult, but for regional campaigns, tapping into these resources will become increasingly important.
Not sure how?
Treat the sites exactly as you would any other media outlet – get to know the community editor, research the subjects and sections and pitch with the ‘hyperlocal’ audience at the forefront of your mind.
Still not convinced?
Here are five reasons why you should consider hyperlocal sites in your next campaign:
1). Reach a niche audience
Hyperlocal news sites cater for a particular town, village or postcode. This is an incredibly small audience, but it also means that you can really target those that are important to your campaign – and more importantly – build trust with them as they start to view your product or service in relation to their daily lives.
2). Upload news for free
A lot of the sites offer news upload facilities. As a PRO it’s a great advantage – enabling you to publish your news release exactly as you want, along with images and photo captions.
Please note that I’m not encouraging spamming here – you need to make sure that your content is suitable for the audience. Most community editors are hot on removing content that isn’t relevant. You have been warned!
3). Multiple channels
Most sites have Twitter feeds which push its content out – meaning it pushes your content out too. Some also have daily newsletters. That’s three ways of communicating with your audience – in one fell swoop.
If you can get a link in your article back to your client’s website then that can only be a good thing. Also, hyperlocal sites have pretty good rankings (from my experience and opinion). If you include key words within your copy you’ve got a good chance of your story being found by those from outside the area too.
Community websites are rife with conversation. People are passionate about what’s happening on their doorstep – and as communicators we need to be getting involved. We’re already engaging on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook – why not here too?