I’ve enjoyed several conversations over the past few weeks regarding local news. I have built a narrative in my head that looks something like this:
- National/global news publishers – there are an awful lot of them, and they tend to report on the same stories. As a local test, I am setup with five different news sites to get alerts to my cell phone. In 90% of all alerts, I get a notice from all five of them within 5 minutes of the others. Also, in most cases, when I click to the story itself, there’s very little there after getting the alert. It’s clear that the #1 focus is to “break” the story to me, and the secondary issue is to provide solid reporting as quickly after breaking as possible. There is a lot of competition here.
- Regional / Metro news publishers – there are much fewer of them, hardly any overlap with other regional publishers. However, the news is hard to get to, because the ads are so overwhelming. There’s not as much a rush to be “first”, but definitely a desire to be regularly consumed. Most offer a daily email newsletter with the top stories.
- Town / Local news publishers – there are more of these than the regional publishers, but there are so many communities and there’s typically only one or two in any particular area. These consist primarily of digital-only publishers and weeklies. They share a similar vibe with the regional publishers in terms of not needing to be “breaking” stories, and updating readers via email.
If you agree with this breakdown, you would likely assume that the number of readers in a general area for #1 would be much greater than #2 or #3. But, I recently came across a report that indicates that may not be so.
It will be hard to prove for publishers, but for local TV morning news, there is plenty of information to determine who is watching what. And a recent study shows that local TV stations blow away national cable channels when it comes to the morning news. The article concludes that local drives the train, contrary to popular belief.
I have always felt that local news is more relevant and topical, and impacts us individual much more so than national/global news. What I’d love to know is the breakdown of active readers for local and regional news sites in a particular area vs. consumption of the NY Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal in those areas. I can say that anecdotally most people I interview on the subject tend to have a single favorite national and local source for news. They consume these two during their commute and nothing else. But while the choice for national news varies widely, there’s typically only one local source in any particular area. This gives local publishers the opportunity to monopolize those readers, if they so choose.
In the same vein, if a small business is looking for targeted coverage, this report shows that not only will a business get more exposure with the Local TV Station vs. the national channels, but it’s likely much less expensive on the local station. With that logic, the most local of news sites will have the most engaged and targeted users, with the ability to reach them at the lowest price. Isn’t that the definition of win-win?
Bottom line, I enjoy when articles confirm my contrarian views on local marketing. Small businesses should focus on visibility within their own market, and leverage local news publishers to do it. If anybody has data in any U.S. market that is specific to publishers, or wants to build out this survey, we’d love to support it!