News media outlets are not dead, they’re just hyper-local

Much has been made about the demise of the news media in the age of the Internet and social media. Contrary to popular opinion, however, many media outlets are surviving, and some are even thriving. What’s their secret? A hyper-local focus on covering news.

Local media outlets that have done well in recent years tend to serve a small geographic area or cover niche topics for a community. They are far more interested ‘backyard issues’ affecting residents of their communities than covering stories with national scope.

That means small businesses in local communities still have a tremendous opportunity to get news coverage. Here are some ways that enterprising entrepreneurs can grab their share of the news to help build their brand and drive more business:

New location

Small businesses that add a new location are showing signs of growth, and that interests media with a hyper-local focus. Whether it’s a bakery expanding to an up-and-coming community or a nursery that opened its second location across town, the local media will want to let its audience know about the upcoming location openings.

Bought a business

Not every entrepreneur starts a business from the ground up. Yes, it’s a path that many do take, but many other successful entrepreneurs left careers at Fortune 500 companies in search of the American Dream on Main Street. Thousands of military personnel retire monthly and some look for franchises or existing businesses to buy rather than trying to find a job elsewhere. Even Millennials are getting in on the action. There are 75 million of them according to the Kauffman Foundation, and many took courses on entrepreneurship in high school or college and have the desire to control their own economic destiny.

Won an award

It’s not uncommon for small businesses to win awards for what they do. Some hyper-local media outlets hold annual fan favorite contests where readers vote for local businesses they prefer. Any consumer-facing business can enter these contests, but it takes a concerted effort to get customers to vote for the business. Still, it’s well worth the effort. Winners will get local media buzz, and the social validation that comes with the award will net even more loyal customers. Other awards can help establish the credibility of small businesses, including annual chamber of commerce awards, competitions and industry awards. A gelato shop that wins an annual national gelato competition will find it far easier to get the attention of a TV news anchor (especially one with a sweet tooth) than one that hasn’t done something nearly as remarkable.

Funding

Some small businesses grow through an influx of capital from investors, which is often a strong indicator that future expansion is afoot. For instance, a local snack foods company that sells in the community and its outlying areas may get a round of funding to begin expanding in grocery stores statewide, or even nationally. Media outlets will report on the funding event because it’s a clear signal that a home-grown company is doing well and planning an aggressive growth plan that could include hiring more employees and moving into a larger facility. Media outlets care a lot about jobs and real estate because the economic impact tends to be incredibly hyper-local, not to mention it happens to be a great way to measure the health of a local economy.

Special event benefiting a non-profit

Some creative small businesses find ways to get local media interested in them by running special events. For instance, a local restaurant might partner with a high-end chocolatier and offer a special menu in order to raise money for breast cancer awareness or another worthy cause. Local media, including TV news outlets, will often keep a certain amount of news open for local non-profit causes. Creativity can go a long way toward doing good for those in need while also helping build brand awareness in the community.

Health benefits

Last but not least, there are always opportunities for certain kinds of businesses to get hyper-local media coverage when it comes to helping shed light on health and wellness topics. Media outlets take their role as educators very seriously in the community, which means if a small business (e.g., a fitness studio or premium olive oil retailer) has a product or service that can help lower cholesterol, and it happens to be National Cholesterol Education month, then the media may be open to doing a story.

About Alyssa Bowholtz: Alyssa is a marketing and communications intern at Manzer Communications. She writes for the PR over Coffee blog and also helps with everything from managing social media activities to growing the company’s Austin Startup over Coffee map. Manzer Communications is an Austin marketing agency for tech companies seeking full sales funnel support from lead generation to sales enablement. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy, marketing automation, PPC, email marketing and media relations.

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