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How Local Media Works, and How You Can Make it Work for You

In the early days of dial-up internet, no one in the professional media could have predicted that one day this form of communication would dominate the way we read news, watch movies and share important documents. Today, 44% of Australians access most of their news online. Many local print publications have either reduced in size or disappeared altogether, however, their online presence continues to grow and local papers telling local stories are more important than ever to create a sense of community.

That’s the benefit to advertising in the local paper – the community context in which it places your business. It’s all about the way customers regard you and your products or services as being part of the community. Here we’ll take a look at how local media works, and how you can make it work to boost your business.

Editors are always looking for good stories

Editors are in a constant state of stress. They stress about stories they’ve commissioned not reaching them by deadline. They stress about not having a good enough photo for the front page. They stress about not having enough local business success stories to please their sales team, because in a world where businesses have their own websites for promotion, advertisers have more clout than ever.

You may think local newspaper editors are inundated with stories – and they are – but 95% of them are non-starters. Editors are looking for inspirational stories about real achievements. Having an amazing EOFYS doesn’t count – lots of businesses have those! A real story is that your product has just won first prize in a state competition, or that from humble beginnings in your hometown you are about to open a store in London. These are the stories editors love.

Native advertising versus advertorial

If you don’t have a great feel-good story about your business, you can try another tack. You may have heard the term ‘native advertising’. This is a variation of an advertorial, where business owners dictate the content of an article. These are of the “At Smiths Marina, we offer you the cheapest boat hire in Cairns” variety, and can be quite blatant and a turn-off for readers.

In contrast, native advertising attempts to conceal the promotional plug inside a genuine article written by a journalist. So a story about cruising the Queensland coast would suggest that readers hire their own vessel, and sure enough Smiths Marina would be the one the writer recommends. Call up the local paper’s editor and ask if there are any of these sorts of stories planned, and suggest that you would be interested should one come up. They should be able to put you through to someone who will then discuss the cost of this subtle advertising opportunity.

The importance of the press release

If you do have a great story to tell, write up a media release. A media release is a one-page description of the facts of your story, with quotable comments from you. It starts with a statement of fact. Let’s say you’re Jane Smith, owner of a jam and preserves shop. The release could begin:

“Jane Smith, owner of Bramble & Vine Preserves in Main Street, has won first prize at the Royal Agricultural Show for her raspberry jam.” Follow up with a few details, such as how long you’ve been in business, and what inspired you. Next some quotes: “‘I knew this would be a great year for raspberries, and I was right,” Ms Smith said. “My mother says it’s the best I’ve ever made.”

And so on. Any local paper editor worth their salt will envision a feel-good story with a photo of Jane Smith and her adoring mother cradling a jar of prize-winning jam. The paper gets its story, Jane gets her publicity.

Getting your story across

If you need to fax through your media release, you can do so from your PC if you use an online fax system. An internet fax system, like the one eFax offers, works by attaching documents to an email and addressing them to a fax number. No fax line rental and no fax machine needed. Many businesses also get frustrated with email attachment limitations and the question of how to email large files, such as high quality images to really sell your press release. The eFax system also supercharges your emails so you can attach large files up to 1GB.

However you communicate, remember – content is king! If you have a genuine story and convey your enthusiasm for it to an editor, you can get the kind of publicity your business deserves.

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