By Jeffrey Davis, APR, Managing Partner, Van Eperen

The year started with Facebook announcing it would give more prominence to local stories in our News Feeds. Then Google revealed it is testing Bulletin, an app which allows users to self-publish hyperlocal news stories that can be found in Google Search.

While PR pros are always on the lookout for the big national story, the shrinking number of news outlets and reporters, combined with the social giants’ emphasis on local news, means PR pros also need to factor a hyper-local strategy into their media relations plans.

“Starting today, we’re going to show more stories from news sources in your local town or city,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a post announcing the change. “If you follow a local publisher or if someone shares a local story, it may show up higher in News Feed.”

While Google hasn’t made a formal announcement about Bulletin, a video is circulating on social media of a company representative demonstrating its new local news app currently being tested in Oakland and Nashville. The rep said it will be a place to “tell the stories that aren’t being told.”

And of course Twitter is as local as you want it to be. Remember when it was called a micro-blogging platform?

On the news side, we’ve already seen this shift take place at a regional level as the larger newspapers continue to shrink the space available for news (at least in print), making it difficult to compete for the average story unless it’s especially negative or truly groundbreaking. Many outlets even charge for personnel announcements now, previously the most basic element of local business news.

That means companies hoping to tell their stories via a credible third-party source (the core of PR-driven media outreach) need to get more creative. They’re turning to news roundup sources such as Citybizlist, digital platforms that focus on niche topics, such as Capitol Communicator or Technical.ly Baltimore, and outlets that are hyper-focused on a town or region, such as MyMCMedia, Baltimore Fishbowl and even the surviving Patch outlets.

Once you land that story – share. The influencers on social media already told us they’ll give those local stories more prominence, so companies need to build their own audiences via email newsletters and on their social platforms to share that hyper-local content.

Don’t abandon the quest for the big hit, but this is what the new media relations looks like.

About the Author: Jeffrey Davis, APR is managing partner for Maryland marketing communications firm Van Eperen, a Capitol Communicator sponsor. He also serves as Baltimore editor for Capitol Communicator.

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