Local News Coverage – an excellent way to draw readers

By Joy A. Kennelly

There’s all this talk about journalists losing their jobs and the “real” news media shrinking which could be seen as a disadvantage since there’s now more online competition supposedly.  Local news

I have found it to be quite the opposite in my local area for a number of reasons:

  • Due to the fact my three local newspapers didn’t have as many reporters and/or photographers to send out to events I personally felt were newsworthy
  • Since certain local activities  weren’t considered news worthy since the papers had covered them so often
  • And/or since these papers’ online versions weren’t updated until the print version came out to avoid losing advertising value —  I posted my stories online ahead of their print media which in certain cases only came out once a week and thus was able to scoop them repeatedly.

Details:

Oftentimes, I was the only one covering the event too which made my story an exclusive for readers.  As a result, my stats went through the roof during the recent Hermosa Beach City Council Election.

I have been covering local issues and events in Hermosa Beach for over two years and found by re-posting information readily available on the city’s web-site and linking back to it, it created an instant draw for Google.

The City of Hermosa Beach‘s current web site is very difficult to navigate for those not familiar with its structure which also made the information I was re-posting buried and unavailable to the average person looking on their site which is another reason I believe my blog was so popular during that time – ease of access.

I also covered the Hermosa Beach City Council debates which at first very few local media were doing. However, once they caught on that people were interested, they began sending reporters. I skipped attending, instead choosing to link to their stories and video coverage to mix things up.

I also provided links to other local sites I trade links with who were also covering the local election/debate issues which increased all of our standings in Google and drove traffic since we are considered opinion makers in our area.

Aggregating content on local politics was a very successful way to increase traffic because then readers had one-stop shopping for information they were seeking and my blog was connected to numerous other sites increasing my SEO value.

My biggest coup of the last Hermosa Beach political race was publishing the results of the election ahead of the final tally with the caveat that it might change once all the votes were in. (If you click on the above Hermosa Beach link you can see what I wrote – Google it too and you’ll see what I mean about standing.)

I beat the local daily paper’s online coverage by four hours.  Needless to say, I was top of the search results for Hermosa Beach Election Results for days.

So, to wrap up, here’s some tips on how to increase traffic based on my recent personal experience blogging about local politics:

  1. Aggregate content related to a particular hot topic (in my case it was politics, but anything is fine. Choose topics you’re interested in because then they’ll be the most interesting to your readers too since they will feel your passion for the subject.)
  2. Re-post information with links back to the original content, but only excerpts to avoid infringing on a copyright. (I got in trouble once by publishing an entire newspaper article and heard from the editor of the paper with a cease and desist order. Never did that again!)  When quoting a news article now, I like to post the reporter, the news outlet and the first couple paragraphs of the article to give readers an idea of what the story is about. Then I post a “Click here to read the article in its entirety” to abide by their copyright.
  3. Going back to my earlier suggestion to write about your passion, in addition to aggregating content, I found it very beneficial to also write from my personal perspective  on each candidate which readers found interesting and wanted to read more.  Especially in politics when it’s so confusing on what a candidate is really all about and personal opinions are needed to decipher who’s a valid candidate and who is a loser.  This relates to other topics as well. Your opinion will always be invaluable because it enhances the aggregated content you’re posting and makes your site uniquely you.
  4. Another way to draw readers is attend events you know local media won’t cover, yet residents would find of interest. I drew readers into my political coverage by photographing the events I attended and putting my own spin on what went on at the various political functions I hit.  It created an added value to my blog and to the overall story of the entire election which oftentimes wasn’t even covered in the papers because they didn’t have the interest, the space, nor the man-power to cover seemingly small (but important) events.
  5. Always link to a high ranking site regarding your topic currently receiving a lot of Google hits because then you’re drawing your own site up with theirs. Sometimes people don’t like it and they’ll break the link, but until they do, I think it’s fine because it’s mutually beneficial in the long run.
  6. Make sure to put key words in your title (even if it’s boring.) I can’t begin to tell you how many times I had to write “Hermosa Beach City Council” in creative ways, but it worked. Even now when you Google the topic my blog is in the top ten searches, and maybe even number one and two.  Localized content is invaluable to residents and others who care about what’s going on in your community. Never underestimate the power of an insider’s viewpoint when blogging about your local area.
  7. Lastly, and most of you probably already know and do this, make sure to give yourself credit on your own blog and link to whatever you’re trying to promote. (I use my Linkedin site and drive traffic there with my byline.)

This basically kills two birds with one stone. Raising your own personal standing in the search engines, and of the site you’re promoting.

I wish you all happy blogging.

Joy Kennelly

Up until 2009 I ran an award-winning PR & Marketing firm specializing in social media and blogging (my blog consistently appears in the top ten searches of Google) for entertainment, politics, fashion and whatever else I find of interest. I am currently open to consulting offers, but am primarily seeking full-time offers. 

Tags:

  5 comments for “Local News Coverage – an excellent way to draw readers

  1. December 16, 2009 at 6:32 am

    Had a little trouble finding something on Flick that might suggest
    “local news” while still trying to keep in line with the more colorful photos we’ve used in the past. I’m still thinking on this and hoping slack will be cut if we change photos should better suggestions emerge. I am looking for better suggestions so please mention them. Thanks!

  2. December 16, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Great post Joy. CNN is starting to recognize hyperlocal microblogs too. Checkout this, http://bit.ly/7mvsOC

  3. December 16, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    What a great post! Congratulations on your strategy. I was thinking, how could I “localize” a story in Manhattan, which isn’t exactly a small town. Then I followed Doug Stewart’s link to Inside.in, which I learned is a Brooklyn-based company (yes, part of New York City). There are already 100 news outlets, including CNN, using news from blogs. I think the challenge will be aligning the news you cover with your brand. How not to go too far afield from your key words and your blog’s main focus. Nonetheless, this is an exciting development. Learning great stuff on the BB.

  4. December 16, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Hi, Thanks you guys. Really fascinating Doug. Thanks for sharing that info. It only makes sense cuz locals have the real pulse on what’s going on.

    I always read/heard that sometimes blogs broke certain stories that larger media would pick up and cover eventually. Now you’re proving it to be true! Thanks! I liked your blog too.

  5. December 16, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Jeannette, You beat me to posting and didn’t see your comment! I agree. I’m loving Bloggers Bulletin and am learning a lot too. Kind of like having your own biz writers group online.

    Love it!

Comments are closed.