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Q&A: PR pros reap the benefits of hyperlocal

Despite the recent merging of Patch.com sites, Aol’s hyperlocal group of sites continue to launch in towns across the country. But the hyperlocal trend isn’t confined to Patch. In the second quarter, Newsday launched sites in Westchester, the Hudson Valley region and Rockland. Meanwhile, other hyperlocal entities like The Daily Voice (formerly Main Street Connect) group of sites in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts have also been keeping up over the last year. Needless to say, community-based sites are a significant element of the contemporary media landscape. While an increase in news dissemination benefits readers in a given area, PR pros are also reaping the benefits of the local news site boom. inVocus spoke with Kimberly (Genkin) Ettinger, executive partner at Philadelphia-based The Whole Enchilada PR, on the advantages of pitching hyperlocal.

Q: Have you found the growing number of hyperlocal sites to be helpful to your campaigns? Why or why not? 

Kimberly (Genkin) Ettinger (KGE): Yes. More often than not, our clients have new promotions/specials/events to share on a very consistent basis. While certain larger publications will not cover the same business/person more than once in a short time frame (or sometimes for years!), the hyperlocal sites seem to be OK with continued coverage of specific places/people/things, as long as the information is fresh. So, we’re able to push out news and have it published regularly. The sites are also helpful because the people reading these sites are more often than not the people we are specifically trying to reach (those in close proximity to the service/thing being offered).

Q: Do you feel your pitching opportunities have broadened because of the abundance of these sites? What’s the response rate from journalists?

KGE: Yes. Now in addition to pitching all of the same area magazines, newspapers, blogs, TV shows, etc., that we traditionally have, we also have a new options that specifically target the people we are trying to reach with our clients’ news. The journalists seem to be extremely responsive to our emails, because we make sure the content we’re pitching is very relevant to that journalist’s readers (specifically). Some hyperlocal sites such as Patch even give you the opportunity to post your own content (it gets approved by the editor), which is great.

Q: What sorts of content do you think work best with hyperlocal news sites?

KGE: Again, content that is especially relevant for people in the zip codes that a particular hyperlocal site covers. We’ve had a lot of success using hyperlocal sites to spread news about grand openings, philanthropic initiatives, events, specials/promotions at a variety of our clients’ stores/restaurants, etc. People want to know what’s going on right around them and it’s nice to have everything in one place instead of having to search through other websites that contain goings on in other areas. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s great! That said, sometimes you really just care about what’s going on in your backyard when you feel like keeping it simple.

Q: Overall, what have your experiences been working with these types of sites?

KGE: I really enjoy them. I like how focused these types of sites are. Since the editor is only covering a small geographic area, the sites tend to be PACKED with information that would likely be overlooked by bigger publications who have to “share the love” among various regions/business. I like that the editors of these sites can dig deep and really cover all that a specific area has to offer. I think the sites also promote a great sense of community.

Q: Are there specific ones you turn to often?

KGE: I love The Town Dish. These ladies do a fabulous job covering locally-focused dining & lifestyle information in the PA suburbs (I believe they have 10 distinctive sites).

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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