Local Media is Winning the COVID Battle for Eyeballs and Credibility

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A recent study conducted by The Whitman Insight Strategies Initiative and Creative Circle Media Solutions takes a deep dive into how a global pandemic has affected the actual feelings and emotions of local media consumers.

One of the key takeaways revealed  from "The Covid-19 Societal Impact Study" is that even though half of those polled say that they lack confidence in news media, those perceptions do not extend to local community media, where those same viewers and readers state they have a much higher trust. Moreover, when asked where they go for essential information about COVID-19, local news scored much higher than cable news and social media channels.

“People are starved for content and connections. That’s why community media have so much to gain. You are already part of the community and people feel like they know you or they should know you," said Bernard Whitman, president and founder of Whitman Insight Strategies, a strategic consulting firm that conducts polls and market research to advise corporations, political leaders, and issue-advocacy organizations. Whitman is also a three-time recipient of the David Ogilvy Excellence in Research Award.

When asked about the findings, Bill Ostendorf, president and founder of Creative Circle Media Solutions, said, "“We have new eyeballs and more eyeballs. We have an opportunity to provide new kinds of content. Better content. If we create more engaging content now, we can change the way they view newspapers and how they value us.”

More findings from the study show how scared and frightened our readers are and how much they crave credible, local information that connects them with their community and offers hope and comfort.

"We’ve long encouraged our clients to cover life, not news," said Ostendorf. "To be more relevant, we’ve got to reconnect with readers and write about their lives and what they are doing."

Another finding from the study revealed that 72 percent of our readers felt that the advertising messages they have been seeing during the pandemic "all look the same," with close to 80 percent of the respondents wanting more information about what an advertiser stands for during these critical times, not just what products or services they sell.

"You can’t push product. Focus on company values," said Whitman about these findings. "Don’t just say what your values are, talk about how you express your values.” Whitman went on to say that due to this high confidence in local media news sources, the study showed, “We’re telling all our clients to go local. And local media are the perfect partner.”

In this segment of "E&P Reports," Editor and Publisher's Mike Blinder goes one-on-one with Ostendorf to talk about the study and what local news media can do to serve our audience better.

Related links: Download the complete Covid-19 Societal Impact Study (1.8 MB PDF)

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