This weekend, I returned to St. Paul, Minnesota for the first time in two years for the innovative Girls & Science event, organized by the Fox-owned station in the Twin Cities, KMSP-TV. The event continues to be a model of how locally-based traditional media can remain relevant even in the face of cuts and competition.
25 months ago I wrote this blog post, detailing my impressions of the event upon experiencing it for the first time. This year, with our client back as a participant, my feelings since then have strengthened.
Over the past two years, too many traditional media outlets have abandoned their role as a community convener. Local media has become less local than ever before as resources have evaporated. But the best and the smartest local traditional media outlets understand that in order to preserve their brands, their audiences and, ultimately, their revenue streams, they must remain visible and active in their communities. There is no better example of that than what KMSP-TV does with this event.
Instead of copping out, this station has stepped up. The event is bigger than ever before, as they have partnered with community organizations like the Girl Scouts, to help it grow. Even in the face of an early season snowstorms, thousands of girls and their families were on hand last Saturday to participate. The station was able to fill a community void, help out a local cultural gem (the impressive Science Museum of Minnesota), create memorable on-air content, engage their audience and even earn some money from sponsorships.
While just about everything involving media continues to change, one thing has not. The communities where audiences live and work still matter to the people who live and work there. Media outlets that respect that fact will, in the long run, be rewarded with high attendance and high ratings. As we tell our clients, good PR is simply good business.