Why local matters more than ever

Perceptions of local, community media -- and why it matters

Michelle Digulla, VP of Marketing at Metroland Media June 20, 2016

As the head of Marketing at Metroland Media – a leading Canadian media company that owns more than 100 community websites and newspapers – it probably comes as no surprise that I’m a pretty ardent fan of local, community media. I believe that local matters.

What might surprise you is just how many people share my passion. We’ve just released the results of a massive research study that BrandSpark International completed for us earlier this year. Reading through those results, even knowing what I know about the power of local, I have to admit that I was astonished by just how loud and proud Ontarians are about their community media. Here is just a snapshot of the results from the Community Newspaper Impact Report – and a few implications for modern marketers.

Put simply, the community news model – free, local newspapers and websites committed to hyperlocal news – provides a successful formula for readers and advertisers in three key ways:

Trust.

The research found that local community newspapers are the most trusted source of local advertising among respondents (88%) ahead of all other channels, including radio (83%), TV (75%), the internet (56%) and social media (40%).

Community Engagement.

The report also found that Ontarians surveyed viewed community newspapers, whether print or online, as the most involved organization in their community – ahead of service clubs, churches and schools. And 75% of Ontarians surveyed agree that their community newspaper connects them to their community.

Call-to-Action.

The trust and connection readers have with their local news drives them to take action – 75% reported that they have engaged with a business after seeing an advertisement in their community newspapers by visiting a store, making a purchase or going to a website to learn more.

And the readership is diverse. In fact, just under nine in ten (87%) younger adults surveyed between the ages of 18‐35 are reading their community newspaper as much or more often this year than last year.

These are powerful results, and I hope marketers are listening.

In our era of increasing dis-connection (when was the last time you enjoyed a meal without at least one person taking their phone out?), there remains a deep hunger for connection. And that connection happens with the real people who share our neighbourhoods, our streets and our schools. For savvy marketers, this means three things:

Targeting Matters

The stories consumers find in their community newspaper are highly relevant because they’re tailored. The content of of each neighbourhood paper differs vastly from one another, because, despite their proximity or surface impressions, the communities are not the same. Their issues are different, and need to be addressed as such. Marketers would be wise to learn from this approach, tailoring messages based on the varied needs of their consumers.

Print (still) Matters

The way people consume news is changing. At Metroland, we’ve been investing in digital like never before and you’re going to see a major relaunch of our community news sites later this year. That being said, print is not dead. Printed flyers and promotional materials, for example, are used by 81% of respondents to get local shopping information, ahead of store websites (71%) and emails from stores or companies (68%). Print is still a compelling and critical way to reach shoppers.

Local Matters

Three quarters of Ontarians read their community newspaper to feel more connected to their community. I challenge you to ask yourself how your brand can play the same role. How could you help to build or support a sense of community for consumers who are so clearly seeking it out? Does local matter?

To learn more about Metroland Media and why local matters, visit Metroland.com/LocalMatters.