Blanche Sainsbury: Local Media Should be Proud of Huge Audiences

The local media industry should be proud of its huge and growing audiences which are fuelling sharp growths in digital revenues, Local Media Works chairman Blanche Sainsbury has written in a piece for MediaTel.  

In the piece published this morning (Thursday) Blanche, Local World commercial director, outlines LMW’s mission to explain recent key developments in local media to advertisers and agencies, and the industry’s ability to connect them with local audiences across multiple platforms. 

“Working in the local media industry has never been more exciting than it is today,” Blanche writes.   “The explosion of digital technology in recent years has afforded us a vast array of new ways to connect with our audiences who rely on us for trusted news and information, regardless of how it is delivered.

“Now, a typical local press reader can consume our products in print, online, via mobile or tablet, or by following our journalists on the various social media platforms which they use to disseminate news, information and informed comment. 

“This has prompted a huge growth in audiences for our industry.  According to JICREG, 73 per cent of the UK population read a local newspaper in print or online each week.  That’s a tremendous number and one we should be very proud of.” 

“But the story doesn’t end with massive reach. Local press is an action medium which delivers real results for national and local advertisers alike. According to the Consumer Catalyst study by Think Media, readers are more than twice as likely to act on the ads in local media than on TV and social media.

“This is because we have a much deeper and more engaged relationship with our audiences in comparison to other media. Local papers play an active role in the communities they serve, fighting for change on the issues that matter most to their readers. The growth in digital has enhanced our ability to do this.

“Now, a local press campaign that previously could have taken months to come to fruition can be won in a matter of hours as a result of our journalists using social media and other digital tools to instantly communicate trusted information to their audiences. 

“As a result of this highly engaged relationship, our audiences are motivated to act upon the trusted information they read in their local newspaper, regardless of whether it is published in print or online.

“The mission of Local Media Works – the new home of marketing for local newspapers and their digital platforms – is to explain to advertisers and media agencies what these exciting and important new developments in our industry mean for them. 

“Yes, we are still the most trusted medium. Yes, we are the most effective for driving consumer action. Yes, we can boost SMEs like no other media can. But now we are doing these things across many different platforms rather than one. That’s tremendously exciting for us as publishers and we are starting to see significant benefits at some of our businesses.

“According to the latest Advertising Association figures, digital revenues for local newsbrands rose by a quarter over the last year with digital display growing at 36 per cent – faster than the media industry average. We in the local media are already seeing tipping points at a number of our centres where the growth in digital is replacing lower print revenues. This won’t happen overnight but I am confident that, as an industry, we are on the right path – growing our share of digital ad revenues and audiences while working hard to stabilise the print side of the business.”

“These are just some of the reasons why I’m looking forward to the year ahead as an opportunity to shout about the things our medium does so well and to help advertisers understand what local media on all its platforms can do for their business.”