For Post-COVID Communications Campaigns, Companies Need to Go “Hyperlocal”
After his address to Congress in April, President Biden didn’t take his message to the national news channels. Instead he and his team went all across America to sell their agenda at the local level.
This isn’t new. Nearly every modern day president and Member of Congress understands that all politics is local. But in today’s ever evolving communication landscape, it is becoming more important for politicians and corporations, alike, to understand the impact of a ground up approach.
According to Harris Poll data from an April 2021 survey, 65% of people tend to trust news and information from local sources more than national ones. The survey also found that eighty percent of respondents said they trusted the opinion of a local business or business owner in their community. Finally, half of respondents said that when it comes to new information, they trusted endorsements from people in their own community.
So what is pushing this trend? Why this shift to local news and stronger trust of information from personal interaction after such a socially distant year?
For starters, the national political and media dialogue is driven by shock and awe and promotes stories that conform to a predetermined narrative. The feeling amongst many Americans is simply that these entities do not actually reflect their communities in an increasingly polarized America.
While a shift towards local media sources has been in the making for several years, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated it. People wanted to know how many new cases were confirmed in their state or city or county; they wanted to track the latest round of quarantines and restrictions or re-opening protocols; and now they want to know where to receive a vaccine locally. The people’s focus went local.
Throughout the pandemic we also saw local voices elevated on a larger stage. Local doctors were a trusted source for information about COVID and people put their trust and support behind small business owners who became the face of the economy. These voices were viewed by their community as a trusted source for information on changing local conditions.
Large media companies have taken notice of the public’s focus on local news, guidance and endorsements. As a result, several outlets are now dedicating more resources to covering local news or directly investing in local media outlets. This movement is reshaping the media environment at the state and local level, as outlets that once struggled to compete with their larger competitors revamp their approach.
All of this begs the question: how should companies seeking public relations, reputation, and public affairs support leverage these trends to revisit their communications efforts?
Companies like mine are adjusting to this shift. Our point of view is ‘trust is local and the future of communications is personal’ which is why we have created an offering focused solely on local. Targeted Activation, driven by a network of over 1,000 local field teams, provides reach into every media market across America. Our focus is on local storytelling, recruiting local influencers, and providing a better understanding of the local landscape.
Consumers have more choices today than ever before, so in order to build a better connection with the consumer, companies need to demonstrate their commitment to the community — whether it is local jobs, support for community groups or locally sourced materials — people want to know that a national brand has a local voice.
Maggie FitzGerald is a Vice President at Targeted Victory where she runs the firm’s hyperlocal practice Targeted Activation.