Day 132: Why is the Media Important in My Community?

Day 132: Why is the media important in my community?  While you may think there is an obvious answer, not all communities are blessed with community minded media.  Over the years there have been a lot of consolidations in the newspaper and radio industry.  The internet has also made a huge dent on ad sales.  For some reason newspapers are looking like the horse drawn buggy because they have never really embraced the internet.  But the lack of local ownership has taken away the community minded aspect of several newspapers.  This topic is close to me because one of our client’s newspapers is not so community minded.   I thought about including a link to the recent editorial but our client is already being damaged enough by the actions of this newspaper.  We picked up on this problem on our first visit to the community.  We even sat down with the editors and writers and shared how careful they need to be about what they write because a business will go online looking for negatives in a community.  We also were going through a planning process and because the economic development corporation is entirely publicly funded, the paper was attending all the meetings so we asked that they not write about what was being discussed during the process.  Which to their credit, they didn’t.

The local paper feels strongly that they need to be present at every economic development meeting because of the public funding.  What I find odd is that the city and county give far more money, for example, to a road contractor, but the paper isn’t sitting in the contractors office every day asking how they are conducting their business.  But, I don’t disagree with the paper feeling they need to be at these meetings.  The client must work to raise a lot more private funding and this issue all goes away.   Both sides need to sit down and discuss how they both can help the community grow.   Economic development is a team sport.  The newspaper, through positive articles and support,  can do more good for the community than they realize.  But writing bad articles making the community look silly, certainly does not help

This post is getting too long, but the lesson is that as a chamber and economic development organization you must work hard to build positive relations with your local media.  Sit down on a regular basis and share what is going on.  You have to build a media plan.  For example, ask the newspaper, if you can write a monthly column or do a show on the radio.  I’m sure most would welcome that.  The world of working with business expansions or relocations has to be kept confidential.  But the actions the organizations are taking to build the community and have the tools in place to assist these businesses should be public information.   Internal marketing is just as important as external. Next: How important are web analytics?

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