There are plenty of ways to get media coverage for your business – but when it comes to the most sought-after coverage, local news is a dark horse. In our own marketing strategy, we’ve found that local news media plays a much larger part in link-building than you might expect.
The proof: According to Muckrack, a majority of journalists say they are more likely to share research about timely subjects – but 62% look specifically for topics that can be easily localized.
In 2022 alone, Digital Third Coast earned 3,425 placements in local television, radio, and newspapers across the nation. Our content was shared by local outlets in 49 out of the 50 states, reaching millions of people.
[Learn more: How Local News Syndicates Online]
To answer the question: how do you reach local audiences, you must first answer, “how do you make content for local news?” Simply put, the content has to be both newsworthy and relate directly to the audience in a specific city, state, or region.
Without question, local news is an undervalued source of authoritative links – but not all content is geared toward local media. In this blog, we’ll explore how to localize content in three different ways to make it local news friendly.
Knowing how to localize a story is everything when trying to get the attention of local news reporters. Keep in mind, the way their stories stand out from the media pack against larger, national outlets is by keeping it hyper-local. Their audience is interested in them because they’re exclusively talking or writing about what’s happening in their area. So, your content idea must reflect that!
A simple way to localize your content is by turning to data specific to a local audience. Local news loves local data, especially when it comes from reputable sources. However, many local reporters don’t have time to comb through databases or annual reports – but you, the content marketer, do.
When chosen carefully, data-rich sources like these offer excellent information that can practically write the story on their own. At Digital Third Coast, we have a few favorites, mainly those with indisputable government data:
Now that you have the data, it’s time to figure out how to localize it. Databases come equipped to filter by state, city, or in some cases, even county, data that will enable you to get the data relevant to local journalists. You can even combine city- and state-level data to give your story an extra boost.
If you’re only interested in earning media coverage in one specific region or state, find opportunities to analyze data on the city or county level and create content catered to that. The more hyper-local your focus, the greater your chances of landing media coverage in media like local community newspapers and radio stations in that market.
Using data from the County Health Rankings, we were able to uncover that the south has a particularly big issue with dental deserts. The worst of all – is in Madison County, Georgia, where there is only 1 dentist for every 30,460 people. That means just one dentist is serving every single person who lives in the county! We used these findings to pitch journalists in that area who can highlight that problem.
[Pitching tip: Use the state, city, or town’s name in your email subject line to increase your email open rates]
If you’re interested in getting more widespread coverage, state-by-state data analyses or analyses of data for major US metropolitan areas may be your best bet to maximizing coverage.
How else can you localize content? By going straight to the source…people’s search histories.
Local stories don’t solely consist of hard, government-backed data to gain local news coverage. In fact, local news has a hearty appetite for soft news about their audience.
For content on the lighter side, it’s easy to find data locally relevant by identifying digital behaviors for certain states or cities. In fact, some of our most successful link building campaigns have come from this type of “light” data.
So-called “light” data can encompass online search behaviors and trends, consumer studies, and social media analyses.
What are some of the best sources to find local behaviors online?
We use all of the above to localize stories, however, Google trends analysis is the technique we use most often.
Here at Digital Third Coast, we have used Google trends to localize Digital PR content ideas on everything from the most popular Super Bowl party snack in each state to the biggest tax procrastinators by state.
Both of the above content pieces earned our clients over 150 links because each had a localized hook.
Here’s how we use this tool to our advantage.
By going into Google Ads and clicking Keyword Planner, you will see this screen. To explain how each tab works, let’s say we are using Google Trends to find out each state’s favorite candy to give out for Halloween.
First, let’s start with the “discover new keywords” tab. This gives you the ability to see hundreds or even thousands of relatable terms to a given list of keywords. For instance, we typed in “Hershey’s”, “Godiva”, “Twix”, “Snickers”, and “Reese’s” and it yielded 2,554 keywords ideas that relate to chocolate.
We can repeat this step several times using different keywords in the search tab, like “M&Ms”, “Twizzlers”, and “Milk Duds”, until we feel we have enough keywords to get a reliable and robust data set. Once you’re finished with that, you’re ready to localize your content!
Now, we’ll use the “get search volume and forecasts” tab. This lets you zero in on how often people are searching for a specific topic and from what region (state, county, city, etc.). We will copy and paste the list we just created of new candy related keywords in the “get search volume and forecasts” tab and hit get started.
Now, click the geotag to select the location where you want to pull your data. In this case, we’re looking at state-by-state data, so we will start with Alabama.
This step lets us see how often Alabama is searching for those 2,554 keywords related to chocolate and how often. We’d repeat this step for all 50 states. Then, evaluate which terms are the most popular in each state and create a map to reflect the candy craze!
If the data you’re looking for doesn’t exist, you can commission your own survey about the topic. You can target your survey to one particular local audience or a national audience of local news consumers.
Surveys that highlight data from regional audiences make great assets for local journalism. We’ve all seen news reports leading with “a new survey finds,” and that’s because local media outlets love new, local data.
Here are some of our best practices for conducting consumer sentiment surveys.
At Digital Third Coast, we prefer to conduct studies with 2,000 respondents, but sometimes go down to 1,000 respondents for a niche topic. These more niche topics have included pet ownership and buying a home. The reason we typically aim for 2,000 respondents is to hear from a large enough audience that we capture the average sentiment.
In order for a survey to be considered scientific, Versta Research says there should be a few key elements to it:
These are some of our favorite survey tools:
Have we convinced you of the SEO benefits of localizing your content strategy? It’s not just about local content, it’s a holistic approach to earning your website the most authoritative, well-respected inbound links possible.
If you’re interested in finding out what our digital PR campaigns would look like for your business, let us know!