3 Ways to Localize Content for News Coverage

By Kylie Moore

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’s State of Journalism 2020, a majority of journalists say they are more likely to share research about timely subjects – but 62% look specifically for topics which can be easily localized.

In 2019 alone, Digital Third Coast earned 1,545 placements in local television, radio, and newspapers across all 50 states and 477 cities. Of course, a large part of this comes from syndication, one of the main benefits of creating local-friendly content.

[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 to the general public and, or easily relatable to a city, state, or region. 

Without question, local news is an undervalued source of authoritative links – but not all content is geared towards local media. In this blog, we’ll explore 3 ways to localize your content to make it local-news friendly.

  • Local Data Sources
  • Local Behaviors Online
  • Local Surveys

Local Data Sources

A simple way to localize content is by turning to data specific to a local audience. Local news loves local data, especially when it comes from reputable sources. However, the truth of the matter is that many local reporters and news organizations 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. The data source you should use really depends on the type of content you’d like to produce. At Digital Third Coast, we have a few favorites, mainly those with indisputable government data:

  • The United States Census Bureau: Great for population statistics, including demographics, employment trends, and home cost
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Perfect for industry-specific statistics
  • Pew Research Center: Well-respected research and analyses conducted on a rolling basis; covers everything from religion to politics to journalism
  • Data.gov: The US government’s open data source with a diverse collection of tools and datasets great for timely topics

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 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

[Pitching tip: Use the state, city, or town’s name in your email subject line to increase your email open rates]

Whereas, 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. 

Local Behaviors, Online

How else can you localize a story? 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.

Google Trends and Google Ads both provide in-depth looks at regional patterns. The local search data they provide offers an in-depth look at what users are thinking and feeling, not just what they’re looking for in search results.

Consumer studies also offer incredible insights about everything from personal habits to personal spending, and they’re far more common than you think. A number of higher education institutions often conduct them; you might start there.

Lastly, social media is a literal look at what people are thinking, feeling, and experiencing in locations across the country. Using geotags, hashtags, and scraping tools, you’ll find visual news stories to tell.

Localized Surveys

If the data you’re looking for doesn’t exist, you can help write the story that you want to read and commission your own survey about the topic. When you’re in charge, you can target the audience sample size you need to focus your survey on one particular local audience or a wider, national, audience of local news consumers.

Surveys that highlight data from regional audiences make great assets for local journalism. We’ve all turned seen news reports leading with “a new survey finds,” and that’s because local media outlets love new data. Especially when that data targets their local audience, specifically.

Here are some of our best practices for conducting consumer sentiment surveys.

Sample size guidelines:

At Digital Third Coast, we prefer to conduct studies with 2,000 respondents on almost any topic imaginable, 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 average sentiment.

But there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to building a survey. According to SurveyMonkey, your number of respondents really depends on the confidence level you’re looking for, your expected response rate, and the size of your population. Naturally, the lower the margin of error, the higher number of respondents you’ll need.

Scientific surveys:

In order for a survey to be considered scientific, Versta Research says there should be a few key elements to it:

  • The questionnaire should be direct, unambiguous, and unbiased. This means questions should not be leading, rather asking in a dispassionate way.
  • Respondents should be representative of a population.
  • Data collection should be systematic in order to avoid bias. Don’t rely on fast data collection, which will most likely invalidate findings.
  • Your reporting should be neutral and consist of a number of different data points, rather than a cherry-picked selection.

Best tools to conduct a survey

As in your sample size, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the survey platform you choose to use. These are some of our favorite survey tools out there:

  • SurveyMonkey: An online survey software that allows users to create and run professional, online surveys, quizzes, and polls for their audience. Feedback can be gathered using weblinks, emails, social media, and more, and plans range from $25-$75 per month.
  • Amazon Mechanical Turk: Yes, Amazon does it all, including online surveys. Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a crowdsourcing platform that relies on survey takers who are paid for their time. The platform has been used by the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, US Foods, Cornell University, and Pew Research Center. Minimum fee of $0.01 per respondent.
  • Qualtrics: Survey platform with drag-and-drop UX, geolocation capabilities, and statistical analysis technology built in. Subscription plans for Qualtrics begin at $1,500 per year.
  • Prolific: An online survey software which allows users to build their own survey and filter respondents by broad elements such as age and location as well as more niche topics (pet ownership, video game habits, screen time, etc). Pricing begins at $6.50 per hour per participant with an additional 33% service fee.

Ready to Learn More About Our Comprehensive Local Strategy?

Have we convinced you of the SEO benefits of localizing your content strategy? It’s not just about local content, it’s an 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!

Read more from our blog…