Local and loving it – the power of public relations on your doorstep
Sunday, March 1st, 2015
When it comes to telling your story, don’t overlook your local paper
ADMIT it – you’ve done it. We all have. Here in Scotland we have a tendency to poke fun at towns and communities where we’re from. It’s in our DNA.
Often this self-deprecation extends to the faithful local news outlets. Chances are your neighbourhood paper is referred to as the “local rag”.
Well here’s a wake up call. Those local newspapers (and new sites, radio stations and TV channels) are thriving – and maybe even more importantly, they are trusted. So what are you doing to tap into the power of local media coverage?
At our PR agency in Edinburgh, we’d like to give you reasons to celebrate all that is good and relevant in your local news site. We start virtually every PR campaign by focusing attention on the local media.
In this age of smart phones and wearable tech it’s far too easy for a sniffy sort of people to end up in bubble of social media and act as though the local media has had its day.
In fact, local media in the UK is reaching bigger audiences than ever before across its print, online and broadcast platforms. It delivers local news and information to 33 million print readers a week and 42 million web users a month.
Study after study has shown that people trust the news from local sources, like the 2013 survey which showed that two thirds of people trust what they read in their local paper, while fewer than a fifth trust what they read on Facebook.
The reality is that whether it’s the parish newsletter, your town’s weekly or evening newspaper, the local radio station or the hyperlocal news site, the information carried has real clout and impact.
Whether organising worthwhile campaigns, providing an audience with vital information about local services or simply keeping you posted on what’s happening in your patch.
How can local media coverage benefit your business?
Our PR agency is all about delivering the right media coverage. For most businesses that is a blend of stories in the media, insightful blog posts and articles on their website and regular, useful and relevant updates on social media.
In fact, we offer award-winning social media and digital PR, including in-house PR video services – but for some businesses local media coverage is by far the most important element. That is particularly relevant for our client Banks Renewables, part of the Banks Group in Scotland.
As a responsible developer it is behind a number of renewables schemes, including wind farms, which will help give Scotland a sustainable source of power and cut reliance on environmentally damaging fossil fuels.
Banks Renewables knows reputation is vital when its developments mean spending 25 years or more as part of a local community.
When we help them earn positive and informative coverage in the local media serving the communities where Banks has planned developments, it is crucial to the Banks business. Those projects have the potential to transform local communities, so the trusted local news titles hold the key to the vital support needed to get those projects off the ground.
Banks Renewables has developments (both proposed and underway) spread across Scotland, so understanding the local media in the communities that host them is both challenging and rewarding.
Factor into the equation that renewables projects are often at the centre of complex debates with many viewpoints. It is important that organisations like Banks are not drowned out and have a voice that is heard.
The Hamilton-based employer believes that local people should have balanced and clear information available to them, so that they can make up their own minds on each project on its merits.
Successful public relations and relationships with trusted local news titles, makes sure that Banks gets that basic right of modern society – a voice in the all-important democratic decision-making process.
Local media want to know how the developments will impact the lives of their readers – the people who actually live and work in the area.
So it is crucial to make sure that stories are relateable, which is best achieved by featuring real people and offering a clear explanation of the benefits to the community.
We work with Banks Renewables to explain exactly how it will integrate and become an important part of the fabric of a local community for the lifetime of any project. And we ensure that facts about its work, its positive records, its heritage and its values are heard by local people.
Our PR campaigns achieve that by delivering a well-planned series of stories focusing on the businesses and groups which will benefit and pass on the potential economic boost that a Banks Renewable development will bring.
Another aspect is to highlight charitable work that benefits local clubs and organisations which would otherwise struggle financially.
We also give a platform for the supporters of wind energy and renewables projects – real people who can otherwise go unheard in the often noisy debate. Likewise when strident opponents of wind energy feature in the local media, we help Banks ensure they are able to provide a balanced response.
Meanwhile our PR campaigns also help Banks Renewables to give informed and credible opinion about the impact of renewable energy sources in helping the environment and tackling climate change.
Public relations is also essential in explaining the significant, long term economic and social benefits of initiatives, such as the launch of the Connect2Renewables scheme, by explaining it in a way that is easy to understand.
Helping Banks Renewables tell the positive stories of its business is just one part– we also spend a great deal of time building relationships with local media and journalists. We ensue the news sources always get their questions answered and that Banks gets the proper right to reply in any potentially negative stories.
In 2014 we helped Banks Renewables speak to local communities through an incredible 221 positive articles in the local press and 143 of these stories were strengthened by 3rd party advocates.
We could talk endlessly about the benefits of local media coverage – but it’s probably best illustrated by our 2014 Chartered Institute of Public Relations award win for ‘Best Community Relations Campaign’.
Find out how working with our Edinburgh PR agency could benefit your business
Does your business face similar challenges to that of Banks Group? Enlist the services of our award-winning Edinburgh PR agency and make sure you succeed.
Chris Fairbairn is a PR account manager with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood Partnership. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.View Chris's Profile
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