Audience Roundtable

Build your audience by building your community


Last month, we touched on the dire need for newspapers to be truly local in their community to grow and thrive. Media companies must understand that growing audience is a job for the entire company. While we should expect our audience teams to sell, service, retain and grow the business, none of this works sustainably without a great product that goes far beyond the minimum expectations of our customers. 

For years it has been said that we can have the best audience team in place, but that will never be enough without compelling content that excites the reader. So what is this compelling content?

Content that captivates readers educates the entire community on how to become a better place to live, work and play. In other words, content that creates a desire to build a better community. Content that invokes synergies between the community and the media company is always a good place to start. Content that builds foundations between various organizations within the community for a better tomorrow. Content that not only educates but promotes being local in ways far beyond just shopping or spending our resources locally. Here are a few storylines every local community newspaper might consider as a starting point.

Is your community aware that having more locally owned businesses lessens the need to increase local taxes? Is your community aware that one of the best ways to fight poverty is to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset and innovation within the community? Along the same line, more locally owned and vibrant businesses equate to lower poverty levels. Inversely, the greater number of big boxes and chains typically come with higher poverty rates. Is your community aware that with more locally owned and operated businesses, voting percentages increase, and civic involvement grows? Is your community aware of the real impact that spending locally has on their community? Here is an example of how to illustrate this.

In a local community of 10,000, what would be the impact on that community if every resident spent just $25 each month they otherwise might have spent online or out-of-town? This action alone would generate $250,000 each month or $3 million each year in new revenue circulating throughout the community. But it gets so much better! Money spent locally tends to be re-spent locally between three and seven times depending upon which study one chooses to utilize. When $3 million gets re-spent three to seven times, that $3,000,000 now becomes between $9 million to $21 million circulating throughout the community. How many jobs might that stimulate? How many new tax dollars will that bring in to pave roads or fix potholes? How many friends, families and neighbors will that aid who own these local businesses?

Community newspapers used to be the glue that helped to unite and bring communities together. They used to be what we refer to as the community informational town square. Media companies must stand out, or better yet, stand up and reclaim what we have lost. Those media companies that accomplish this will thrive; those that don’t will not survive.

John A. Newby, author of the “Building Main Street, Not Wall Street” weekly column and CEO of Truly-Local, LLC, dedicated to assisting communities in creating excitement, energy and combining synergies with their local media where LOCAL is often lost to corporately owned entities and the Internet. You can reach him at


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