Business’ role in delivering the local news

Posted: 7/2/2019

In coming weeks and months we’ll likely learn about plans from neighboring community news outlets, TV stations and business publications for expanding media coverage to fill The Vindicator’s void.

[The Vindicator, Youngstown’s daily newspaper, will close after 150 years]

Admirable, yes. Opportunistic, maybe. Hopefully a creative and workable solution will emerge, as it’s pretty clear how valuable a role local journalism plays in a community.

Note I didn’t say how valuable a role a “daily newspaper” plays in a community. It’s the journalism part that’s important; not as much the vehicle it’s delivered through.

Crazy thought, but could local businesses play a role in filling this news void? I think yes.

Content is king. And queen.

It’s not unusual for individual brands to have amassed impressive social media followings; legions of opt-in subscribers to e-newsletters; loyal listeners to podcasts and ready readers of blog posts.

With all this power to publish, I’m not the first to suggest that companies and brands are, in effect, their own media companies. Now might be the time to truly test that.

Let’s not only turn up the notch on being reporters of our own news, but let’s produce brand-relevant content as a form of corporate journalism.

  • Why couldn’t a local funeral home or grave memorials company take on the role of publishing obituaries pulled from public records?
  • What’s stopping a car dealership or oil change retailer from announcing monthly auto sales numbers?
  • A local law firm can take the mantle of publishing “for the record” bankruptcies, divorces and lawsuits information.
  • A driving range or golf specialty shop can report golf league scores and promote charity outings.
  • A florist or event planner can tackle the society page.
  • A sporting goods store or trampoline park can report results from the local sandlots.
  • School districts (or citizen journalists) can cover their own school board meetings and publish stories online and through social media. They have a brand to maintain, as well.

Show me a brand and I’ll show you a marketing director scratching their head to come up with good, consistent content. Well here you go...

Think of the brand loyalty, valuable content and – ahem, clicks! – that can be created this way. All the while it drives relevant traffic to your website and social media platforms.

The list of examples can go on and on. Just be creative. View things through a new lens.

Let’s take a fresh look at the local news landscape and figure out new ways to communicate what we all crave to know.

Jim Houck is the president of Houck Agency, a Youngstown-based public relations and content marketing firm.