The power of local media when building brands

A newspaper, notebook and calculator on a wooden desk

Each morning, at Honest, we begin our day by checking our coverage alerts to see where our clients have popped up in the past 24 hours. While everyone appreciates the value of pieces in national, trade and consumer titles, we’ve found that sometimes local coverage is overlooked.

But we’re here to say that we believe regional coverage should be celebrated! It plays an important part in generating a brand’s persona and ultimately drives website traffic and sales, from a dedicated audience. Let us explain why.

It pays to start local

When we start working with any new client, we take a deep dive into their business and learn all about them – their aspirations, their challenges, their competitors and their own customers and clients.

We then build a strategy, using PR to amplify their voice, expand reach and ultimately make their business more successful.

A client that serves a local clientele will likely understand the value of local coverage, more than our clients which serve a national database of customers. Those clients may skip the local press and go after the big media fish.

But, it pays to make local press an integral part of a client’s strategy (depending on their aspirations and budgets of course), for a number of different reasons – not least because customers can often be nationwide, people love to support companies local to them, and readers of local media will often be a unique audience that we can’t reach in any other way… but more on that later!

Building relationships

Never discount the relationships you can build with your local reporters. Journalists often move on to national publications, or trade ones, or even freelance for them on the side. Local stories can often take on a life of their own and appear far beyond where they were initially pitched to. Not only that but local journalists can often be big players in online groups and social media communities, meaning that if we have them on side, they can be an important cheerleader for us.

Cultivating and growing relationships in your local media market can often yield amazing results; if the local writer has met you and sees how incredible your work is, they may just be your champion on a national stage, too.

Be a hometown hero

For executive directors and CEOs working on their thought leadership strategies, securing a profile piece in the local business journal, or even their local paper, can be extremely valuable. Don’t underestimate how much people love to be able to show their mum a piece about them in their local paper – no matter how old or senior in a company!

Having a local presence can also be incredibly important for achieving big results elsewhere. So, have a client’s byline published locally, get them on stage at the local chamber events and look for the local 40 Under 40 awards! A client’s thought leadership reputation can be built up through their local network first, which will help their credibility immensely when we are going after the national awards, speaking gigs, and business profiles.


If we are looking to put a client forward for an interview, Google-ability is key. Most reporters worth their salt will, at a minimum, do a Google search on an individual or organisation that they are considering for a story. If nothing comes up, they may pass you by. If, however, several awards, local stories and speaking gigs pop up from your local market, then they are going to feel like they discovered an up-and-comer.

If a client has built up a byline library or had several pieces about them published in their local paper, then those national publications are going to have a much better idea of their reputation and credibility. If they’ve given several talks, hosted panels and given keynotes at local events, then they will have a much better chance of being able to wow their audiences from a national stage. A local PR strategy can therefore be used as the base for nationwide PR pieces further down the line, by sowing the seeds and building foundations with important contacts.

Reaching a different audience

Interestingly, a recent study found that 38 per cent of local news site visitors do not visit any national news sites — meaning a large audience is not being reached by brands who only advertise on national news properties.

When advertising or publishing locally, companies have an opportunity to align with a deep connection and sense of personal relevance in local environments. In other words, local is better at providing relevant content, creating a sense of connection with others, and otherwise making the experience personal.

Not only that, but local news drives local actions. Users are more likely to have taken some kind of meaningful action on their local news property versus national properties — actions like signing up for a newsletter, sharing a story, or posting a comment. Local news users are particularly motivated to sign up for additional communications or to take advantage of a promotion, providing an advantage to brands interested in direct response and promotional advertising.

It all helps SEO

Local publications often have ‘backlinks targets’ to hit when publishing stories online. This is an ideal time to build credibility and improve SEO rankings, so it is important to include links when we issue pieces.

Search engines like Google view backlinks as votes of confidence. Essentially, you vouch for another site when you link to it.

That’s why pages with lots of backlinks often rank higher on Google. Especially if the backlinks are from trusted, authoritative sources.

To read more about why digital PR is such an essential part of all that we do, read our blog post here.

… Which ultimately drives sales

When looking to drive sales, a client’s local market is always going to be a great place to start.

Local press helps solidify their position in their hometown. After all, the people in your community will most likely be your most ardent supporters (think about how much people love to say that they heard of a brand first, or that a brand is local to them and they know the owner, for example!), so stay top of mind by maintaining your presence in the local news.

The results

When clients begin investing in their local media, you can expect to almost always start to see their PR wins snowball. Speaking gigs beget local awards, local awards yield local broadcast segments, op-eds open doors to long-format feature stories.

And with time, effort, and a really good story, all of these local hits can eventually work towards getting that dream placement in national press.

So when creating a strategy, remember the important part that local press can play in helping clients meet their aims.

If you want to chat about we can help you create a local strategy, and more, then get in touch!

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