One incontestable fact from the political car crash of the last couple years is that we live in a deeply divided nation and new fissures are constantly emerging.
People no longer divide along predictable lines like old versus young or north versus south, but increasingly complex tribal divisions like attitudes to immigration or nationalism, often with divisions exhibited on a profoundly local level.
In the European Union referendum, why did Scottish Borders vote 58.5% remain whilst the next-door area, Northumberland, vote 54.1% leave?
Localism is largely ignored by people who create and deliver advertising or marketing. Campaigns are usually national (often international) with little regard for local or regional sensitivities. Creating effective campaigns that appeal to people who live outside of a metropolitan media bubble is often a low priority, with budget being used as mitigation for ignoring it.
However, in a divided nation, local media is increasingly important to people. Social media means people create their own communities, these are often intensely tribal local echo chambers and local groups demonstrate genuine affinity and solidarity with their neighbours. Research by the thinktank, Nesta, showed;
Local media is increasingly important as a source of news, especially as our trust in national institutions plummets.
According to OECD, only 43% of people trust their national government.
Whilst national advertisers are stampeding towards the digital duopoly of Google and Facebook at the expense of printed media, locally people still consume a richly complex cocktail mix of digital and traditional channels, often receiving traditional local media brands via digital platforms.
Almost half (44%) of 15-24-year-olds say they regularly receive updates on their chosen local radio stations and presenters on their social feeds.
Two tragic events from last years exemplified the real importance of local news brands, firstly the bomb attack in May at the Manchester Arena saw people instantly gravitate to the Manchester Evening News online site and then the aftershock of the attack was handled sensitively through local radio. Key 103’s evening show stayed on air until 5 am, four hours beyond the usual finishing time.
Secondly, Peter Preston, the late editor of the Guardian said last year that a functioning local press matters for democracy and that the Grenfell Tower disaster showed us why. He suggested that the decline in local media meant that local politicians weren’t being properly held to account.
“A functioning local press matters. Grenfell Tower showed us why.”
This indicates that local ‘press has a fundamentally different role to national press or digital media. Generally, there is far greater trust in local media than national media.
In 2014, YouGov surveyed 2,000 people about their use and trust in local media. They asked how trustworthy people find various sources of local news…they found local media was significantly more trusted than national media, especially digital media.
The three traditional local media; ‘papers, radio and TV where by far the most trusted sources of local media.
One might argue, that this data was over three years old and a lot has changed. We agree so we commissioned YouGov to run the same research last November, our next blog article will show the results and discuss the implications for advertisers.