What’s next for NOTW?

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Many red-top haters have dreamed to hear the words ‘the News of the World is closing down’.

Those dreams became a reality yesterday as News International announced that its last ever issue of the tabloid will be published this Sunday, in a bid to limit the political and commercial repercussions of the phone hacking scandal.

Allegations of phone hacking at the paper have been rife for years. Hacking into celebrity’s phones is pretty low on the scale of journalism ethics, but this time the NOTW stooped lower than even its most reverent haters could have imagined.

Under the watchful eye of editor at the time Rebekah Brooks (who denies all knowledge), the NOTW allegedly ordered a private investigator to hack into the mobile telephones of murder victim Milly Dowler, families of murdered children Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, relatives of London bombings victims and members of the armed forces that died on duty. Messages were apparently deleted to allow room for more ‘story leads.’

Those who stand by the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ mantra will swiftly point out that the key word there is ‘allegedly’. But, after paying off celebs such as Sienna Miller in phase one of the scandal, one can only jump to the conclusion that these allegations must have at least a little fire behind the smoke – if not a full-blown furnace.

And it seems advertisers feel the same. They have been dropping like flies throughout the week, and Sunday’s final edition will publish with NO corporate advertising. I’ll be buying it just to see what that looks like.

However, despite this background of hacking claims and falling advertising, coupled with Murdoch’s ruthless reputation, the announcement that the paper is to close still came as a massive shock to the industry – an industry which is still reeling a day later and will continue to do so for a long time to come.

It’s been around for 168 years, employs a staff of over 200 people and sells over 2.5 million copies a week. You just don’t expect a media institution like the NOTW (and it is an institution – whether you like or agree with its particular style of journalism or not) to fall at all, let alone fall so quickly and amidst such a, well, such a sh*t storm.

But then again, on closer inspection perhaps it’s not a shock as such – more a well-timed business decision. And a clever one at that – who knows if it would have survived such hideous allegations – and this way it doesn’t have to wait and find out.

It’s no secret that News Corporation has an £8 billion bid on the table to buy BSkyB (although reports are in that this is already under threat). And with a price tag that big, there is more at stake than just a UK newspaper. No one wants to be associated with such horrendous and inhuman activity – whether the allegations turn out to be true or not – and Murdoch is well aware of this.

With rumours already spreading that there will be a Sunday version of The Sun on the shelves within two weeks one can only wonder what effect, in the long term, this will have on the one thing that it all comes down to – News Corporation’s bottom line. Will one cash cow be replaced swiftly with another? My opinion is yes, although perhaps not quite as quickly as some suggest, especially as the story continues to snowball and arrests are happening even as I’m writing this. Plus, as the saying goes – mud sticks.

Whatever the next steps may be, my thoughts go out to the real victims of the phone hacking scandal; the families whose privacy has been so grossly invaded and the staff who await with baited breath to see if they have jobs to go to, or if they are the ones made to take the fall for other people’s mistakes.

My best bookmarks from the last two years

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I have a very bad habit of bookmarking things and then never getting around to looking at them again.

Over the last two years this has resulted in hundreds of bookmarks and favourites – otherwise known as a big, unorganised mess.

This week I’d had enough and decided to sort them out.

I found some gems – here’s some links I found that I just had to share:

SOCIAL MEDIA:

1. Behind the scenes of 8 social media campaigns:

This post can’t fail to get you excited about the potential of social media. From the talented peeps over at Mashable, it gives 8 examples of innovative and successful social media campaigns which have captured their target audiences’ attention and generated some great results for clients.

2. What the f**k is social media

Does your boss (or you?!) still need convincing of the validity of social media? This no-nonsense slideshow is just what you need. It contains some impressive statistics and examples – though it is two years old now so it might be a bit outdated.

3. Seven deadly sins of social media

I’m a sucker for a list – and I love this one. It gives us the seven ‘deadly sins’ of social media including ‘Deafness’, ‘Phoniness’ and ‘Greed’.

4. Fifty digital resources you might have missed

Another great post from Mashable. This mammoth list gives you 50 resources worth reading including ‘How to make a 3D YouTube video with two cameras and a roll of sticky tape. I can’t wait to try that one!

PUBLIC RELATIONS:

5. Nissan’s online news room

WARNING: This post will make you want to work for Nissan. It talks about the company’s in-house newsroom which creates and develops news for the brand across all platforms, from video to print. In my opinion – all brands should be striving for this, or at least taking elements of it. A great, inspirational read.

6. Big list of free press release sites

I don’t use these sites, but they can be useful as an additional tool when selling in news releases.  This post lists LOADS of sites which you can upload your releases to for free.

7. How and why to write SEO releases, plus where to submit them:

SEO should be a skill which every PR pro is willing to learn – and it should be built into all content you create which may find itself a home online. This article is a great crash course into why SEO is so important, and how to use it for press releases.

8. Times Style Guide

Every newspaper and magazine has its own particular style, and PRs should always try and take note of these. It’s also worth having you own ‘house’ style. If you’re still trying to implement one then this could be a good post to refer to.

PHOTOGRAPHY:

9. Photography challenge:

I have a secret desire to become a photographer. Two things stand in my way; a lack of decent camera and a lack of talent. When I get these things, I will definitely be doing this challenge from the White Peach Photo blog. It gives you a photography challenge every day for 30 days – from ‘Self Portrait’ to ‘Clouds’.

OTHER:

10. Top 16 UK marketing blogs

Looking to expand your blog repertoire? Well, look no further. This post offers up 16 of the UK’s best marketing-focused blogs.

Are there any gems hidden in your bookmarks? If so, share them here.

What makes a great press photo?

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Earlier this month I attended a free photography workshop hosted by TNR Communications, part of the Press Association.

The workshop set out to “give a real insight into how to get national picture desks to run your PR photographs.”

I’d highly recommend the workshop – it was a great insight into one of the UK’s busiest news and picture agencies – and they illustrated the presentation with some really strong picture examples, as well as offering valuable insight into the day-to-day workings of a picture desk.

Here are some top tips from the day, to help make sure you get that perfect press shot – and the coverage it deserves:

1). Track record is important

Make sure that the photographer you use has a strong track record in securing national coverage for their photos – even if you have to pay more for it. They should have an intuitive eye and know what a national paper is looking for and how to get it. They should also know how to distribute photos – if you have no connections it can be hard to get your photo seen by the right people. Make sure they also offer solid insight and knowledge into the best times to send photos and the best resolution, file size and photo captions.

2). Know what picture editors want

When pitching photo stories, picture editors are your audience not newsrooms – you need to understand them. You need to know what they’re looking for and how they operate. Avoid clichéd photos (smiling business men holding big cheques are most definitely a no-no!) And remember that news is about people – the photos needs to reflect this.

3). Be more creative

Picture editors at national newspapers are inundated with photos – over 20,000 per day, and this is climbing everyday thanks to the rise in digital photography and citizen journalism. For a PR story to gain coverage this way it needs to be imaginative and eye-catching. Think of the wider story, and come up with creative ways of capturing it. If the story allows it try and be fun and humorous. And remember – a picture editor only sees thumbnails on screen – and hundreds of them at that. Your photo needs to be pretty special to stand out.

4). Try and sum up the story

An ideal photo for national press will sum up the story in one go. Even if you need to stage a shot which does this, then it could well be worth it. Often, strong photos aren’t run with a full story – just a photo caption. Make sure that your picture tells the story you want it to.

5). Manage branding

From a PR’s perspective getting branding into a photograph in the nationals is the holy grail of success. From a picture editors perspective it’s a nightmare. Try and find a happy medium – you can get away with branding but only if it looks natural within the setting of the photo. Don’t go overboard, and don’t try and make your branding the focus. Doing that will simply result in your photo not being used – or your branding being cut out.

6). Planning is vital

If you are planning a photoshoot or a photocall you must plan before hand. If it’s in a public place visit the site first; how busy is it? Is it too crowded? Can you get the right angles? Think about the environment and the background. What will be in your frame? If possible take your photographer with you – if not, take a digital camera and take a few snaps. You want your photoshoot to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible so planning is vital. You don’t want people hanging around on the day while you look for the perfect spot, or try to avoid the crowds.

7). Be aware of the news agenda

Pay close attention to the news agenda and time your photos well. Royal weddings, holidays, Wimbledon, hottest day of the year – all of these things can offer you hooks to get that perfect photo. BUT, it’s also worth sometimes going against the news agenda. For example election time, when picture editors are bombarded with man-in-suit after man-it-suit, it could well be worth doing something dramatically different to offer some light refreshment.

8). Move quickly

Once your photo has been taken get it re-sized, captioned and sent ASAP. But make sure that you pay attention to timings. Don’t send it on a Friday, and avoid afternoons if possible. The best time is around 10am in the morning. It’s also worth trying a Sunday morning – papers are often lacking content for Monday’s paper.

For some examples of great press photos check out TNR’s gallery.

Photo by graur razvan ionut

Churnalism.com – churning out what we know already?

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The website Churnalism.com was launched last week by the Media Standards Trust, and allows people to paste press releases onto the site and compare the copy with articles published by national newspaper websites.

I’ve found the site interesting, and had a bit of fun playing around on it, but I’m not really sure what the point of it is.

If Churnalism’s purpose is to highlight the fact that press releases are used in newspapers – then it will of course succeed. But the fact that press releases are copied by journalists will come as no surprise to anyone in the industry and is hardly front page news (excuse the pun!).

Nor do I think it’s a bad thing if press releases are copied – after all if a story is good (and accurate) then it shouldn’t matter where it comes from.

As a PR practitioner I feel a bit insulted by the site – as though it is suggesting that all press releases are crap which should never make it to print.

The other thing I’m not clear about is who exactly Churnalism is aimed at?

I expect PRs will love having a go – a fun, free way of tracking coverage anyone? Plus, if you find your release has been copied in its entirety then that is a PR score surely, and a sign you’ve produced something newsworthy?

I can’t imagine journalists wanting to check – after all if they’ve copied and pasted a press release do they really want to be called out on it?

Churnalism describes itself as ‘an independent, non-profit website to help the public distinguish between original journalism and ‘churnalism’. But do the public care (and how would they even have access to most press releases in the first place?).

I decided to find out, and as such did an impromptu survey with friends – specifically asking for people who didn’t work in the PR or media industries.

I asked the question ‘As someone not involved in journalism or PR – do you care?!’ Admittedly getting the answers from 20 friends on Facebook isn’t going to give in-depth analysis but it was interesting to see that actually, only half really gave a shit.

 

Churnalism - do you care?

Some of the ‘other’ comments also gave food for thought:

It depends on the press release. Every area of work allows for using work already done. If it is a large percentage of copied work it seems wrong that they should be allowed to do this, is it that hard to re-write something to say it another way? Isn’t that their job?”

I love this comment (and I must stress this was an anonymous survey – though I’m sure my friends will tell me who they are when they read this post!)

It’s a very good point – writing and researching is what journalists are paid for. But then on the flip side, it’s also what PRs are paid for – to create newsworthy material for their clients.

The issues surrounding the Churnalism website, and the reasons behind it, are age old – the love/hate relationship between journalists and PRs (many journos say they hate PRs but would then struggle to fill pages without them) and also the ‘purpose’ of a press release.

Is a press release a fully formed story, or a taster of a subject which the journalist should then embellish and build upon?

And if a journalist runs a press release word for word does that make them bad at their job, or does it make the PR good at theirs?

Or perhaps it doesn’t mean any such thing – perhaps it means that the PR/journo relationship is working.

Churnalism will clearly help demonstrate lazyness in the media (and indeed unimaginative PR) but it also makes it look as though every story comes from a press release. What would be a fair representation would be seeing how many original news stories there were on a day – COMPARED to those that came from a press release.

With regards to the effect the site will have I’m not sure – as I don’t think it’s doing anything that people didn’t know already.

It’s fair enough if they want to raise awareness to the public that this happens – but they should also make it clear that many press releases are well written, accurate and have a place within the news agenda.

What do you think of Churnalism.com?

Tips for selling your real life story

Thinking of selling your real life story?

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I read with interest a guest post on No Sleep ‘Till Brookland’s Blog earlier this week, which told a fellow PR Juliet Shaw’s experience of selling her story with a national paper.

For those of you who have ever been bored enough to click on the ‘about me’ section of this blog, you’ll know that I previously worked as a real life features writer at a news agency. A brief stint where I discovered I was actually pretty good at it – but also that I hated having to exploit people and tell the odd ‘white lie’.

Whatever your reason or motive, selling your story – be it as a case study such as Juliet, or your personal story (HAVE YOU BEEN THE VICTIM OF A CRIME? HAD A LOVE RAT HUSBAND? GOT A DISGUSTING DISEASE?!) – can be a rewarding experience, especially when you (eventually) get the cheque at the end.

But you have to think seriously about whether it’s worth it. There is no excuse for a story turning up which bears no resemblance to what you’ve said, but there is always the chance that things will get embellished, and that an ‘angle’ will be chosen that you’re not comfortable with.

With that in mind here are my top three things to remember if you’re thinking of gracing the pages of a magazine or newspaper anytime soon.

1). Most newspapers don’t do read backs

If you sell direct to a newspaper the likelyhood is that they won’t do a readback (read the copy over the phone to you to make sure that you’ll be happy). However, if you go through an agency many will. It’s one of the good things about going through a features agency. It’s worth remembering though that they will never send you the copy via email. Or at least that’s what I was taught!

2). You will be named and pictured

It’s very rare that newspapers and magazines will publish anonymous stories (unless incredibly juicy and contentious). They want real people, real places, real faces. If you’re not prepared to have your name, location and picture splashed across the nationals then it’s probably not for you. It’s also worth remembering that although ‘yesterday’s news is tomorrows chip paper’ it’s not the case with the internet. Not so much for women’s mags (unless the story gets picked up elsewhere) but if you do a story for a national paper be prepared for it to keep popping up every time someone Googles your name.

3). There will always be an angle.

Although the journalist may be being sympathetic to you and your cause (there is always a cause – it’s how they’ll persuade you to sell your story in the first place), ultimately their job is to keep their editor and the reader happy. That means delivering a juicy story by finding an angle and exploiting it – often at your expense. Husband died of a heart attack on Christmas day? Not enough. Headline reads ‘Husband died while glazing the gammon’. Gave up your big house and moved to Africa to help orphans? Headline reads ‘Gave it all up for sex in a mud hut’. (And yes, these are stories I actually had the pleasure of working on). Look at the publication that you’re being asked to appear in. If they’ve made other stories sensationalist then the likelihood they will yours too.

Have you ever sold a story or been a case study? What were your experiences?

Social media doesn’t just break the new latest news – it IS the latest news

Having a flick through the papers this week I noticed an article on celebrities who are using Twitter to promote products – without letting their followers know that they are being paid to do so.

Now, to me, that’s not a particularly interesting story.

But it got me thinking – we all know that more and more frequently news is breaking on social media instead of via traditional news channels – but when did social media become news itself?

Below are 10 examples of social media hitting the headlines:

1. Man arrested for threatening to bomb airport on Twitter:

Paul Chambers, a 27-year-old accountant from the UK, was arrested under the terrorism act for ‘threatening’ to blow up Robin Hood airport in Doncaster. The tongue-in-cheek tweet, which was sent after the airport was closed due to snow, said “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!” Despite appealing the judges decision Chambers was made to pay £2,000 in legal costs and lost his job. The judge called him a ‘menace’.

2. Foursquare stalker:

An anonymous 26-year-old male from Edinburgh in Scotland said he was stalked relentlessly by a female admirer for nine months on location-based platform Foursquare – sparking a warning from the Crown Prosecution Service which now promises a ‘tougher crackdown’ on cyber stalking.

3. Celebrities threatened with suing after promoting products on Twitter:

Celebrities including Lily Allen and Liz Hurley face possible court actions after tweeting about products and failing to mention to their followers that they (may) have been paid.

4. Facebook friends blamed for woman’s suicide:

Simone Back, a 45-year-old woman from the UK, killed herself after posting her suicide note on social networking site Facebook. At 10pm on Christmas Day she wrote “Took all my pills, be dead soon, bye bye everyone.” There has since been controversy around why none of Back’s 1,048 Facebook friends raised the alarm.

5. The general election – how social media swung the vote:

The 2010 general election was called ‘the social media election’ and there was speculation throughout the campaign about the role it played. Of particular note was the use of Twitter during the first ever televised election debates.

6. The Social Network:

Social media didn’t just make the news last year – it made the big screen too. The Social Network was the hit blockbuster film about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and it sparked a series of newspaper reviews and features.

7. Woman sacked after abusing boss on Facebook:

One of the older examples but a good one nonetheless. Back in 2009 a woman known only as ‘Lindsay’ was sacked after moaning about her boss on Facebook – forgetting he could see her comments. I have one word. Doh!

8. Tory Councillor arrested after stoning tweet:

A conservative party leader was suspended after publishing a racist tweet. The offending comment said “Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan’t tell Amnesty if you don’t. It would be a blessing, really.” The comment, which (now ex) councillor Gareth Compton, described as an ‘ill conceived attempt at humour’ is a stark reminder to think before you post.

9.House trashed after party advertised on Facebook:

I’m pretty sure that kids trashing a house isn’t particularly newsworthy. But thanks to Facebook it is! The above link is just one example of this sort of story hitting the headlines.

10. BP oil spill:

The BP oil spill was one of 2010’s major controversies – and the multi national firm’s poor handling of public relations also hit the headlines – especially after a fake Twitter account @BPGlobalPR was set up. The account, which still has 180,000 followers made a mockery of the oil giant’s already dwindling reputation.

 

5 communication ‘dont’s’ for 2011

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As it’s the start of a brand new year, most people are busy making positive predictions and resolutions for 2011.

But, as I’m a complete pessimist at heart, here’s my list of things you SHOULDN’T be doing in public relations this year.

1. Don’t be ‘on’ social media:

It has been said by many that 2010 was the year that social media really took off. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr – 2010 was the year that you HAD to be seen to be using these channels, and many more besides. But simply being ‘on’ these channels – and by that I mean you’ve set up a profile page with a nice bit of blurb about you or your business, a flattering profile picture and the odd sales tweet/post/video – isn’t enough. If you’ve set these channels up but aren’t utilising them for customer or peer interaction – ala Tesco’s Twitter feed – then they really aren’t worth having at all. Work out what you want to achieve (higher brand profile, a communication channel for customer queries), look at what your competitors are doing, listen to your customers and then spend time on putting together a plan – and investing the time – to make these channels work for you.

2. Don’t give up on traditional media:

Yes, traditional paper and magazine circulations are dwindling rapidly. But I for one firmly believe that they are, and always will be, here to stay. And although social media and online publicity is definitely where communications is headed, there is a lot to be said about the power of a really strong piece of coverage in the correct publication. Local newspapers seem more receptive than ever to targeted content, and there are also many niche trade publications, catering for sectors across the board, which have strong and loyal readers. Also, if you target traditional press you’re usually killing two birds with one stone, with most print coverage appearing online too.

3. Don’t cut your marketing budget (too much):

I hate to use the dreaded ‘R’ word – but even a couple of years since it first hit, the recession is still biting many companies hard. And with the public sector cuts happening this year, and the knock on effect that will have on the private sector companies which supply them, it looks like this year may be one of the hardest yet. One of the first departments to be hit is usually the marketing department and all that falls under that banner – PR, advertising, online, internal comms. Cuts need to be made but it is often companies which are investing in their marketing departments – and therefore their reputation – which reap the benefits.

4. Don’t get stuck in a rut:

It’s very easy to continue your marketing and communications strategy as you always have done. But is it really working? It is important to evaluate last year. What worked and what didn’t? Do you need to invest more (or less) time and/or money in particular areas? There are new communication channels opening up every day – why not explore these and see if they fit into your strategy for 2011? For example – perhaps you’ve always focused on magazine advertorials and haven’t yet branched into blogs or online forums? Consult experts for their opinions but also consult your staff (across the company – not just the marketing team). What do they think of the firm’s communications strategy? What reactions do they get from the people they deal with on a day to day basis? Where do people hear about you?  Use this feedback to structure your comms plan for the year ahead – ensuring you’re investing in the areas which will give you the most return. 

5. Don’t think communications is quick, or easy:

In 2010 there was a lot of talk about the return on investment for both traditional PR and also social media. But unfortunately it’s not always a simple equation which can be tracked to the bottom line. People don’t always ‘like’ your Facebook page, read your news article or visit your website and then instantly purchase your products or services. I hate to use the cliché but sometimes ‘background noise’ is important. It takes time, and consistent and quality material, to build up a reputation online and in the press.

Does the press release need rebranding?

Apparently the press release is dead, or dying, or something like that anyway.

If that’s the case then I’ve just spent the morning trying to resurrect the dead. And the coverage the extinct press release got me for clients last week must surely have been imaginary.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (a trusted resource I hope you’ll agree) a press release is ‘an official statement issued to newspapers giving information on a particular matter.’

Quite ambiguous, but ultimately it means news.

So how can the press release be dead? It’s like saying that news is dead.

Back to the dictionary: news is ‘newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent events.’

And unfortunately, for those press release haters out there, most ‘news’ is in some way related to a person, a business, a product, an organisation or a brand – which is going to give someone, somewhere some publicity.

So, a press release is simply a way to get that news to the journalist and the reader quicker.

Yes, there are an awful lot of PROs out there who are still spamming newsdesks with terrible press releases which barely function as cohesive sentences, let alone news.

But the ones that are doing it right – creating targeted content for particular titles, with relevant case studies, statistics and local hooks, are providing newspaper journalists – whose workforces have been cut down to the bare minimal – with decent content.

Perhaps the issue isn’t with the function, but with the name.

‘Press release’ – it has so many bad connotations – poorly written copy, thousands of people cc’d into the same email, that annoying ‘have you received my press release’ phone call.

So, maybe it’s about time the press release had a brand overhaul.

Let’s give it a new name which sums up what it does when it’s done right.

Perhaps:

–          ‘Great filler for overstretched journalists?’

–          ‘Starting point for an even bigger story?’

–          ‘Strong local news story?’

–          ‘Real news about real people?’

–          ‘A well written article which will add value to your readers?’

Much of the ‘press release is dying’ talk is put down to the fact that the traditional media channels are declining and everything is becoming about social media and online news sites.

But this isn’t affecting the tangible product – those 400 words or whatever still need to be written – they’re just distributed in a different way, with key wording no longer an afterthought.

And I for one can’t foresee a time in the near future when distribution via social media and SEO platforms will be entirely exclusive of being combined with traditional media.

Advertising Age has also been involved in the debate asking in its weekly poll ‘Is the press release dead?’

I’m pleased to note that the result is a resounding ‘No’.

What do you think?

5 reasons why hyperlocal news sites could help your PR campaign

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.

4). SEO

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.  

5). Conversation

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?

Do I regret leaving journalism?

It’s been one year since I ditched journalism for PR, aka the ‘dark side’.

It’s not something that really dawned on me to write about or publicise until I stumbled across the young journalist’s blog section on journalism.co.uk

There are so many great posts here from budding journalists itching to get into the field of journalism.

They remind me of myself just 2 years ago – desperate to be a features writer and see my name in print.

If only I’d known the truth then – that actually, after all that university studying and unpaid work experience, when I actually got there, when I actually landed that ‘dream’ job, I would bloody hate it!

Admittedly my career as a journalist (a paid one at least – if you can call it that!) was short lived – a mere 9 months at a news agency writing features for woman’s magazines and tabloid newspapers.

So many people ask me ‘Why did you leave journalism – that sounds so exciting!’ and sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision.

But honestly? That was enough for me. The bulging press cuttings book and the thrill of seeing my name printed in national press wasn’t enough to cancel out the death knocks, the incessant phone calls to bereaved and upset mothers, wives and children, and the hours of sitting outside victims houses to get them to ‘sell’ their story.

I couldn’t take the complete lack of privacy for victims of rape, assault and adultery and I haven’t bought a single woman’s magazine since I left the job the year ago.

I enjoy my job now – I am writing everyday and the topics I write about are wide and varied. Of course the rush of seeing something you’ve written appear in print isn’t the same as the one you get as a journalist – after all it hasn’t got your name on it.

But there is still a rush.

And I don’t regret my stint in journalism – having that insider knowledge has helped me to understand the industry and has been an integral part of shaping who I am and how I tackle public relations for my clients.

I’m about to celebrate a very odd anniversary.

It’s been one year since I ditched journalism for the ‘dark side’.

It’s not something that really dawned on me to write about or publicise until I stumbled across the young journalist’s blog section on journalism.co.uk. http://www.journalism.co.uk/young-journalists/

There are so many great posts here from budding journalists itching to get into the field of journalism.

They remind me of myself just 2 years ago – desperate to be a features writer and see my name in print.

If only I’d known the truth then – that actually, after all that university studying and unpaid work experience, when I actually got there, when I actually landed that ‘dream’ job, I would bloody hate it!

Admittedly my career as a journalist (a paid one at least – if you can call it that!) was short lived.

A mere 9 months at a news agency writing features for woman’s magazines and tabloid newspapers.

But that was enough for me. The bulging press cuttings book and the thrill of seeing my name printed in national press wasn’t enough to cancel out the death knocks, the incessant phone calls to bereaved and upset mothers, wives and children, and the hours of sitting outside victims houses to get them to ‘sell’ their story.

I couldn’t take the complete lack of privacy for victims of rape, assault and adultery and I haven’t bought a single woman’s magazine since I left the job a year ago.

I enjoy my job now – I am writing everyday and the topics I write about are wide and varied. Of course the rush of seeing something you’ve written appear in print isn’t the same as the one you get as a journalist – after all it hasn’t got your name on it.

But there is still a rush.

And I don’t regret my stint in journalism – having that insider knowledge has helped me to understand the industry and has been an integral part of shaping who I am and how I tackle public relations for my clients.

So many people ask me ‘Why did you leave journalism – that sounds so exciting!’ and sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision. After all, I know that a news agency life is very different to the one you experience once you get onto a magazine or news desk.