Do we overlook the benefits of Regional media for the lure of National?

Stephen Chapman's picture

When it comes to PR, local radio can often be overlooked or disregarded. Some PR professionals place emphasis on national media because of its reach, but this could be at the expense of the benefits offered by hyperlocal, writes Josh Wheeler, Head of Broadcast, North at Good Broadcast.

National can and does deliver vast reach - but if you're trying to inspire behaviour change or action, is the voice of the capital-based metropolitan elite really the best way to inspire that?

For communications professionals, regional voices across the country can truly bring a story to life for hundreds of thousands of people in their respective areas, and can deliver a more impactful way of engaging with consumers.

Targeting local stations can be more time-consuming and intensive, but that investment can deliver superb results. Part of my job each day is to brief various spokespeople who support campaigns across the country to make sure that they are confident, comfortable and equipped to take on media.

What is the power of local radio?

In its barest form, local radio has the muscle to help you convey highly-targeted messages on-air to considerable and engaged audiences on behalf of your clients.

Beyond that, I believe its secondary power is trust. Radio is the most trusted medium of all, and listeners identify with stations and presenters. The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer recently revealed that trust in media fell to an all-time low (43%), but radio continues to buck that trend. Above all, radio is about is companionship, and can encourage brand loyalty in its listeners.

Take my city, Manchester, as an example. The RAJAR percentage reach (in the area) of BBC Radio Manchester (8%), Hits Radio (12%) and the local Capital (15%) are equal to – if not more – than BBC Radio 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, as well as leading national outlets such as Kiss and Absolute.

And the story is not unique to Manchester - West Dorset, Yorkshire, Inverness and North East Scotland all report similar regional figures.

As a PR operative, how are you reaching those engaged audiences?

Tips on local radio

So, what do you have to do to reach local radio and secure coverage? Here are some top tips to harness the power of local for your campaign:

  • Get to the heart of the story quickly and don’t include things like quotes or brand sentiment. It turns broadcasters off - and the spokesperson can deliver that on-air.
  • Have as much local relevance as possible - i.e. one central campaign spokesperson and regional case studies and outline clearly who you have to offer.
  • Locally-relevant statistics (ideally commissioned by you for the campaign) or desktop insight that highlights compelling data already in the public domain.
  • Remember that stations are hyper-aware of their target audience - both current and desired - so campaigns will also be judged on audience relevance. Try to find the all important ‘me too’ factor within your story.
  • And don’t be sold by the ‘glitz’ of national to the detriment of regional!