Senior Government Marketer Says Local Press Ads Drive Engagement

Mary-Ann Auckland OBE, Communities Department head of campaigns and marketing, has written of the importance of the trusted local newspaper environment which gives central Government advertising “much greater relevance and engagement.”

Mary-Ann, who is on the Local Media Works Awards judging panel, wrote: “I am very pleased to be involved the inaugural Local Media Works Awards because they will get media planners really thinking about how the aims and objectives of a national client can be realised through local communications.

“In central Government, local media is fundamental to the way we communicate. Our campaigns invariably aim to provide people with information to make decisions which will improve their lives. Often, it is about making small changes to a regular routine which result in a significant incremental benefit such as a cleaner environment, safer household, or better personal health.

“But getting people to change their behaviour isn’t easy, even if the benefits of doing so are very clear. From a communications perspective, it is crucial to be in the right environment to talk to your audience when they are likely to be receptive to your message.  For Government campaigns which aim to inform and ‘nudge’ the general public, the right environment is often local newspapers and their websites. 

“People trust their local newspaper like no other medium and are therefore likely to be very receptive to the advertising within it. If national messages can be given a tailored local angle then so much the better. But it is the local context which is key, because it gives national messaging much greater relevance and engagement, which are vital when seeking to change behaviour.

“The work the Department for Communities and Local Government did with Featurelink for the Fire Kills campaign, which encouraged people to test their own smoke alarms on the first of every month and to test for other people who might need help, illustrated this perfectly. By creating a national structure that was flexible enough to include local activity and messages, we were able to involve local fire and rescue services across England in the campaign – giving it greater relevance and impact. The campaign, I have no doubt, helped save lives.

“Context and engagement are the things that media planners should be thinking hard about when putting together their entries for the Local Media Works Awards. People are seeking to engage with local communities more than ever and local media enables advertisers to become part of this conversation in a real and meaningful way.”