Five Reasons Why Local Media Still Matters

Over the past year, it was nearly impossible to turn on the TV or open an online news source without hearing about the COVID-19 impact. No doubt, it was the national and international news story of 2020 and remains a leading news story during 2021.

However, it was also a local news story that proved community-based reporting remains an integral part of consumer information-sharing today. According to a PEW research center study conducted in April of 2020, (61%) of Americans said they were relying on news about the pandemic at both the national and local level equally. Moreover, of those polled, nearly one-quarter stated they relied on local news more than national reporting.

For today’s businesses looking to grow – or quite simply survive – the importance of local news sources should be encouraging news. Whether you are a small business or a Fortune 500 entity, engaging with your local community through media relations can pay dividends.  Here are five reasons why media relations – particularly community-based media relations – still matters.


In today’s content heavy world, any brand can publish a blog post about the value of their company or superiority of their product. But when it comes to consumer buying and spending habits, they still count on a third-party to validate these decisions.  Whether this third party is a local news personality or a social media influencer, consumers want to hear from someone “like them” before making a purchase decision. 

According to the Knight Foundation, Americans trust local news more than national news. This 2019 study revealed that 45% of Americans trust reporting by local news organizations “a great deal” or “quite a lot,” compared to 31% for national news organizations. Moreover, 79% of those polled believe local news media are better than national news at covering issues Americans can use in their daily life, and 68% believe local news can report it without bias.  

For any organization looking to grow in consumer or customer trust, local news can be part of the solution. 


Local news reporters are local. They are your neighbors, the parents of your child’s classroom friend, and active participants in the community.  Developing relationships with local news sources can easily extend beyond an email pitch or scheduled interview. 

For brands looking to likewise become accessible to their local audiences, a local news reporter can become a validated relationship that is easier to maintain over time.

There is no shortage of national news stories – and finding your way into the rolodex of a reporter that on average receives hundreds, if not thousands, of emails a day with news pitches is a difficult (but not impossible) task. In comparison, your local news reporter can develop into a trusted relationship over time with mutual benefits to both parts “doing their job.” 

Subject Matter Expertise 

Building on the importance of trust, your company spokespeople are natural extensions of your company message. For local news reporters, they can also be valuable subject matter experts.  Instead of pitching a news story about your product or service, it is important for today’s businesses to pitch their knowledge.  By building your reputation around subject matter expertise, your spokespeople can be frequently called on to weigh in on relevant news stories and current events.  

A reporter will not develop a TV segment that sells your service, nor will a print reporter write an article that serves as a mere advertisement.  By flipping your pitch from what they can do for you to what you can do for them, you will instantly be a more favorable source that provides valuable information to your community members.  Local media is always looking for the local perspective on today’s national news.   


Developing a marketing and public relations strategy, supported by content generation, is a massive undertaking. It requires significant time to plan, ready, execute, monitor, and adjust. Maintaining a perfectly constant plan indefinitely is not sustainable for even the most sophisticated businesses. There will be inevitable gaps when content is delayed, a business or product launch is sidetracked or external events cause disruptions to the meticulous planning that goes into a marketing strategy. 

That is where local media can play a relevant role in keeping your brand front and center.  By investing and developing relationships over time with local news sources, you can continue to be part of their stories by being a resource. Checking in with those relationships to hear what they are working on can be that bridge between marketing plans.  While the media landscape continues to evolve, local news will remain a consistent source of information for the public. You can help support them by being a reliable source and in turn, they’ll become a reliable tool to you.


National news platform Axios announced in 2020 its strategy to “go local” by expanding into daily local-focused newsletters in key media markets across the country. Here in Charlotte, this included its acquisition of reader-favorite the Charlotte Agenda – which started off as a small newsletter in 2015 and quickly scaled into the city’s most read news source. As they put it in their first article: “Media is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. There are no shortcuts. It’s painful. It takes years and requires relentless execution, day after day.”

Whether you are the news reporter or the news source, that statement is forever true.  Every story starts somewhere with the potential for indefinite growth. To remain a leading news platform, Axios has also recognized the importance of being close to the issues that matter most for communities. Similarly, it is hard to turn on your TV for the national evening news without seeing a heartfelt story with a local twist.

For any business, especially a new one, getting the ball rolling to build your audience online can be a slow process. Being featured in a news publication, no matter how big or small, can be that initial catalyst to your growth.  

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