The 9 Most Critical Sources Of Local Content For Local Publishers

in Community Content Engine

Whether you're looking to build a local news media site or a local lifestyle publication, finding great local content is critical to your success. Taking the time to develop a few key relationships within your community will help keep a steady stream of news and stories filling your inbox and making your life easier.

Steven Jack, a veteran local journalist, a Patch superstar and former publisher of Only Oswego in Oswego, IL, was kind enough to share a few thoughts regarding which relationships are most important to develop as part of your community outreach plan.

Police/Fire/Sheriff

Without question, the biggest driver of traffic on any hyperlocal news site will be police and fire reporting. It is essential to first make contact with any and all local Public Information Officers. Ask them to immediately add you to their media contact list so that you may start getting their information right away.

Schools

Depending on the make-up of your community, school news could be the second biggest traffic source on a hyperlocal news site. Make early contact with public relations officials, friendly pricipals and administrators, union reps and leaders of parent organizations.

Chamber of Commerce

Joining and covering the chamber of commerce is essential to your business. Most chambers these days are very savvy with social media and will evangelize on your behalf, especially if you’re a paying member.

Contacting your local chamber president should be one of your first orders of business before even launching a site. This will also be an invaluable source of revenue for you, as most local businesses are members. Do your best to get to a few of their networking events early on in the process.

Economic Development

Make a good source out of your local economic development official. Economic development news is the No. 3 biggest driver of traffic in hyperlocal. People are constantly looking for new ways to spend their hard-earned cash and new restaurants or businesses coming to town are always a hit on local news sites.

City Government

Developing good sources with elected officials will take time. If you can get a contact within each faction of local government, you will be doing well, though it’s not always possible.

Most city governments today have a public relations or communications employee who will be able to funnel you all the essential local government news, including meeting agendas and upcoming events. However, don't expect them to give you the inside scoop.

Political Leaders

Getting to know and introducing yourself to local political leaders is important. These are local influencers who can tip you off early to stories that you may not even be aware of, and they love to talk about initiatives they are spearheading.

Don't be afraid to ask them direct questions about what's happening behind the scenes. Most of the time they'll answer you, even if it's off the record.

Local Nonprofits

Ingratiating yourself with local nonprofit agencies will quickly result in a constant flow of usable content. Most nonprofits are desperately searching for free ways to spread their message, and you’re constantly looking for easy local pieces of content — a match made in heaven.

Parks & Rec

Making contact with park and rec officials is much the same as making contact with the local library. Generally, these aren’t stories or posts that drive a lot of traffic, but including their news shows that  you care and have an idea of what people are actually participating in around town.

These departments normally have communications professionals, as well, who can send frequent information.

Library

Contacting your local library director can pay off in a couple of different ways. One: people still use the library — lots of people. Announcing their special events or other occasional news is a good will gesture. It’s not going to drive a lot of traffic, but it shows you care.

As Steven says, it's about showing you care! People want to hear the news and read the stories that are most relevant to them no matter how big or small and often larger news outlets and publications do a poor job of covering the small but important things well.

By taking the time to create some key relationships within the community, you'll be able to easily fill in the gaps and make your publication a daily must read among a very competitive landscape.

A Side Note to Lifestyle Publications

Even if you're one of the few publishers that are hesitant to cover local news, you can still get tremendous value out of developing these key local relationships. For example, instead of reporting the news of a local fire destroying a local business, you could cover the story from a different angle such as how the owner plans to rebuild

For example, instead of reporting the news of a local fire destroying a local business, you could cover the story from a different angle such as how the owner plans to rebuild afterward. Of course, we'd recommend you do both but in either case simply being on the police/fire list will help you generate ideas for great local stories.

Creating great local content will also help you rank better in Google as we outlined in this weeks office hours: SEO for Local Publishers. Learn how to turn any article into a great local article that will drive more traffic and engagement and avoid top mistakes publishers make.


Looking for a little help executing your digital strategy? Talk with us about Membership and Consulting Services.

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