Audience Roundtable

How 'Going Local' Can Grow Audience

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Recently, America’s Newspapers encouraged a “Shop Local, Eat Local, Read Local” campaign. The topic of supporting local spending has never been timelier and more critical. Never has our locally-owned and operated business base been under more pressure. As this pressure continues to mount, so will the pressure on the local news media companies as well.  The ultimate future of your news media company is linked together as is the survival of both. Crisis is always the mother of invention, innovation, and change. Now is the perfect opportunity for news media editorial departments to reinvent themselves as well as our entire industry. Now is the time to educate your community on the dire need for a truly local mindset. Being local is so much more than just shopping, eating, and reading local. Being local needs to be in the DNA of your community. Foremost, educating the audience on the value of local spending enhances their perception of the local media company and provides for audience growth. Here are but five of the hundreds of reasons to be truly local.

  1. Greater Financial Return. Numerous studies show dollars spent with locally-owned and operated businesses recirculate throughout your community between three and seven times. This is compared to those same dollars being spent with big box and national chain businesses, which circulate just one time. Using a 10 percent sales tax as an example, $1 million spent with big boxes and chains will return $100,000 in sales tax to your community versus $300,000-$700,000 when being spent with locally-owned businesses. This provides your audience with real jobs and vibrancy.
  2. Greater Community Support. Additional studies show owners of locally-owned and operated businesses support local causes, organizations and charities by approximately a three-to-one margin over businesses with outside or Wall Street ownership. The foundations of many communities are often built through active volunteerism, non-profit organizations, and civic groups. This is a vital component to thriving communities.
  3. Community Involvement Quotient. Owners and managers of locally-owned and operated businesses are four times more likely to be involved in leadership, politics, and chambers in their communities than owners and managers of big box, chain, and out-of-town or Wall Street-owned businesses.
  4. Less Poverty Expectation. A recent study shows a community’s poverty rate is directly linked to the percentage of prosperous locally owned and operated businesses. Put another way, the greater percentage of your retail dollars taking place with big boxes, chains, and out-of-town or Wall Street owners within a smaller or mid-sized community, the higher the poverty rate might be expected to be. The more local innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurs there are, coupled with active support of such by the various community’s government entities, the greater expectation for an increase in the average household incomes.
  5. Local Uniqueness Invites Tourism. The more local businesses your community has, the greater uniqueness it offers. Few people vacation in locations ripe with chains and big boxes; you can find those in any city around the country. Uniqueness brings tourism, tourism brings dollars, and dollars bring revitalization and growth.

As I chat with newsrooms and media companies, I stress to them that educating their community to the power of a truly local mindset might be the most impactful mission any newsroom in a community market can embark on today. To fully accomplish this mission, the truly local mindset needs to begin within the walls of news media companies extending outward into the community. From there, news media companies and the community can build common synergies strengthening the foundation of both. You can’t always control the economic climate in which you operate, but you can certainly control your direction and path by adjusting your sails to the economic headwinds you are in.

John Newby is the founder of the 360 Media Alliance. He also authors the weekly column, “Building Main Street, not Wall Street,” which focuses on bringing local media and their communities closer together through common synergies and causes to grow revenue. He can be reached at john@360MediaAlliance.net.

Read more of John Newby's "Audience Roundtable" articles on EditorandPublisher.com

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