Trust In Local News Should Help Local PR

In the PR business, there traditionally has been nothing quite like the aura of “national.”

“National” agencies have portrayed themselves as superior in every respect, commanding giant staffs and fees.

“National” media placements have been thought by clients to be more precious and worth more money than just about anything.

I’m not here to say there isn’t value to either. Of course, there are situations when having professionals “on the ground” in multiple cities can be helpful to certain clients. And virtually every week, we help our clients gain attention outside of their local markets when their news and/or expertise warrants, particularly in niche-specific outlets.

But the value of local is as relevant to PR as ever and a new study, “The State of Public Trust In Local News,” by two well-regarded organizations, The Knight Foundation and the Gallup organization, shows that in a new way. Here’s a takeaway from the new, comprehensive survey that shows a lot about where local PR and local news are right now:

Local media stories are simply more trusted than those from national outlets. Research proves it.

News consumers trust local media more and think, overall, its coverage contains less bias than national outlets.

In fact, in a blind study, when consumers were shown an article and told it was from a local source, it was trusted more than when they were told it was from a national source, even if it’s the same article.

The survey also shows local journalists are thought to be more caring, trustworthy, accurate, unbiased and professional to national journalists.

All of this, the survey shows, is driven by polarizing partisan politics which, let’s face it, is driven by national news coverage, particularly on cable TV. But regardless of the reasons, local news and local news stories are more trusted.

The Knight Foundation warns this “reservoir of goodwill” could dry up if local news starts titling politically, one way or another. But, for now, as long as audiences still trust local news, and the local news business can hold up, local PR, particularly local media relations, still has value to those who seek it.