Anyone who has tried to work with a local newspaper recently will know first hand that local news gathering is in crisis.
Advertising continues to fall away and while they struggle to take on board the new reality of video and dealing with breaking news in real-time they are failing to prioritise the business of going out and finding new and interesting stories that no one has heard before.
It’s a shame because so many great journalists started out in local news. Now new recruits are paid even less than we were 20 years ago and they get a fraction of the experience and training.
But if the outlook for the future of your local rag is gloomy then the up-side is that there are lots of experienced journalists out there with old school standards and training and many are making interesting careers for themselves working directly with business.
All the smart businesses want to be doing social media right now – quite rightly – and creative types who can write and tell good stories are naturals at it. If you are used to writing pieces in several lengths and formats, headlines, news in briefs and longer discussion pieces then writing a blog post, a white paper and a 140 character tweet does not pose an insurmountable challenge.
There is a wealth of talent out there and smart companies are increasingly choosing to work with their own journalists direct.
It goes hand in hand with realising that content creation is now where it’s at. By creating your own content in the form of online magazines, videos and blogs – cutting out the old school media entirely - you can reach out to your customers direct. See for example, Procter and Gamble’s Man of The House Magazine
It is not about a return to the hard sell, which is going to put off both customers and any journalist who values their independence, but a chance to develop communities of readers, supporters and “fans”. A good example is The Girls School Association who have a website and online community called My Daughter which offers a place for parents to discuss issues around raising teenage girls.
But it doesn’t have to be a website – it’s up to you – a TV channel, an online fanzine – they are all ways of telling your stories and collecting together those of your community.
So get excited about content creation and bag yourself a journalist to help you. If you need any help give me a shout.