Everywhere you look, experts are touting the importance of focusing on digital and online when it comes to your organization’s media and public relations efforts. By and large, given today’s media landscape, that’s a smart strategy. It’s true that the public relations world has changed drastically over the last decade or so, and much of that change has come about thanks to the proliferation of the internet.
Instead of being limited to chatting at the store or at church, customers can now go online to air their praise – and grievances! – with a company and their experience or product. Think about how you find out about a new service or product. Chances are, your first step is to Google it! Even seniors, a more traditional consumer group, are getting online in larger and larger numbers, and are using social media, review sites and online forums to discuss their experience as a consumer, share information and get answers. That doesn’t mean you should put all your eggs in the digital basket, though.
“Even with the growth of the internet, there’s still a lot of value in pursuing a hyperlocal approach to your public relations efforts,” says Taigen Thorne, Director of Public Relations & Media at SageAge Strategies. “Seniors may be going online more and more, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still paying attention to local news and media, and often times, so are their adult children.”
Often, we focus on the big picture when it comes to public relations, and that can mean striving for national placements and big digital media buys. Today, we’re going to change direction a bit, and look at how incorporating a hyperlocal approach could also reap big rewards.
What does it mean to be hyperlocal?
When you really think about it, hyperlocal marketing is the oldest type of marketing around! As such, it’s weathered decades of changes in the media landscape, and yet still emerges as a powerful part of any marketing plan.
Wikipedia defines “hyperlocal” as “having the character of being oriented around a well defined, community scale area with a primary focus being directed towards the concerns of its residents.”
Taking a hyperlocal approach means honing in on an extremely specific, focused group of individuals within a community, as opposed to trying to reach a broader audience across multiple neighborhoods, towns or cities.
Why do this? Well, as we’ve discussed before, being focused with your marketing efforts means you waste less time on prospects who aren’t likely to convert. It also gives you an opportunity to tailor your message in such a way that it really hits home with a small but desirable group of potential customers. It’s less a “spray and pray” approach and more of a, well… hyperlocal one!
Some sources of hyperlocal coverage include:
- Small-town newspapers
- Daily and weekly periodicals limited to one town or neighborhood
- School district newsletters
- Church bulletins and direct mail pieces
- Local bloggers and influential reporters
- Penny classifieds and other small publications
Tips for getting hyperlocal coverage
Successfully landing quality hyperlocal coverage in your community can be time consuming, mainly because of the number of opportunities available and the quirky ways some might require you submit your news, but any smart marketing plan requires critical thinking and legwork, so consider making hyperlocal efforts a part of your strategy moving forward. Here are some tips to make it easier.
Focus on quality leads, not the number of leads. If you have an affordable opportunity to reach a small community of 300, and 10 percent of those people are likely to express an interest in your community, that’s a way better return on your investment than if you spend double to reach 3,000 with a 1 percent return. Small publications are often cheaper and more interested in working with you to secure coverage, versus larger, national publications who are far less flexible.
Make the reporter’s job easy. Or editor, or publisher – whoever! Regardless of who you’re working with, chances are, they’re a one-man or one-woman show. They don’t have time to spend on creating a great story about your community. So make their lives easier – and make them more likely to work with you again – by providing them everything they need, from quality content and social media copy to images and related collateral.
Localize your story. Showing you understand the neighborhood you’re pursuing by referring to the key players, locations, traditions and needs of that community, will go a long way in engendering your business to those potential leads. A generic story reaches a generic audience. So be specific with your story if you want to reach a specific type of consumer.
Get local online. Focusing on hyperlocal coverage doesn’t mean giving up social media and the internet in its entirety. On the contrary, you may find a rich online community focused on the very specific needs and happenings in your target neighborhood. Pay attention to the key influencers and engage online when it’s appropriate, and when you have something valuable to offer to the conversation.
A comprehensive strategy doesn’t put all your eggs – and money – into one basket. Rather, incorporate a hyperlocal approach in conjunction with a broader online, as well as national, strategy and watch the leads roll in from all directions!