How regional press helps brands tap into local communities

By Emily Brewer, UK head of publishing at Teads

As part of our Campaign for Real Media, championing the impact of premium, quality and real content on advertisers, publishers and their audiences alike, we’re exploring the critical part regional press plays in speaking to real communities — and how the media industry can use them to best effect.

In an ever-changing media landscape, the role of the regional press is something that has stayed refreshingly consistent and integral for its local communities. The importance to readers hasn’t wavered nor has the importance to the publishers either. This can be seen in the sheer volume of content being produced at a local scale by professional journalists who, it could be argued, are the strongest influencers in the UK.

Local media content covers news stories that national news may overlook. From stories about doggy swimming pools in Ynyswen, Wales, to the effects of contactless payments for Big Issue sellers in Bristol, through to national helplines for emergency services.

While national or global titles will talk to audiences that align with their overarching values, the appeal of the regional press is actually broader. It doesn’t matter your political leanings or beliefs; your interest in what’s happening near to you affects you with the greatest immediacy and, often with the greatest effect.

For the ad industry, the benefits are overwhelming. If a product was released tomorrow that would claim to speak to intricate socio/geographical demographics, in the context that appeals on an emotional level but without intruding on consumers’ data, it would be dismissed as impossible in an instant. While advertising often neglects to reflect the lives of people that do not live in the ‘London Bubble’, regional media provides an ideal environment for brands to associate themselves with local communities who have a strong emotional connection.

Local press stands up for our communities and defends our point of view — all while making us smile with the memory of when we appeared on page seven for winning the local netball competition. We work with our regional partners to help maintain those voices and support one of the most real forms of media there is.

We asked Sian English, vice chair of the Manchester Publicity Association and head of multi-channel at Seventy7, for her thoughts:

“To say the press sector has gone through an upheaval over the last decade would be an understatement. The emergence of new platforms, the immediacy introduced by social networks and the thirst from the public for real-time updates have all challenged the humble, regional newspaper.

“The role of regional press is an intriguing one. With cost cuts and scaremongering around the impact of digital, it’s easy to forget the crucial community role that local newspapers actually play. If you want to know what’s going on in your village, regardless of whether it’s about council updates or the pub’s football team Sunday league score, there is no substitute.

“So much of our attention via the national press, online and social is click-baited into sensationalized global issues, it’s easy to forget that actually, what’s going on in our local communities has the most real and greatest impact on our day-to-day lives for both ourselves and our nearest and dearest.

“As the North West’s leading creative, digital and media, not-for-profit membership organization, the MPA is a proud, regional membership group. Press such as The Manchester Evening News, which has been telling the stories of people in Greater Manchester for more than 150 years, have been huge supporters of the MPA. They’ve provided a platform for MPA members to build profiles amongst peers, engage debate and share insight that directly affects our community.

“Regional press continues to play a vital role in providing a service to local communities by being their watchdog and commentator. In a time when people are searching for real connection, often left feeling cold by more digital interactions, local news is a way for people to know what’s going on around them, address issues, and ultimately, be an advocate for the place they live.”

To hear more from our industry contributors as to what Real Media means to them, and give your opinion, click here.

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