Community news publications have always been well-read. And they’re seeing a resurgence during the COVID pandemic as reader loyalty has spiked.
Many people are staying closer to home, and they’re concerned about how their favorite neighborhood hangouts are faring. In turn, businesses can build awareness and affinity for their products or services by working with a community news publication, either from an editorial or advertising perspective.
These free (or very low cost) publications are effective because they are highly targeted. They are usually mailed directly to homes in certain zip codes. Or they’re available at neighborhood retailers and restaurants within the neighborhood.
For example, St. Petersburg residents receive a copy of community news publications like the Northeast Journal, Weekly Challenger, Green Bench Monthly, Paradise News, The Gabber or the Downtown Newsletter, depending on their home’s location. Or someone living elsewhere in Pinellas County might be an avid reader of one of Tampa Bay Newspapers’ eight publications, which cover neighborhoods from the beaches to Palm Harbor.
Brick-and-mortar establishments like bank branches or coffee shops that have a base of customers who live within a few miles find community publications particularly beneficial. Community publications can also be helpful to non-retail businesses, too.
The word “community” can refer to more than geographic boundaries of a neighborhood or part of the region, though. It can also mean cultural communities, or people who have similar interests, such as:
- Black community through publications like the Florida Sentinel Bulletin, Weekly Challenger, Florida Courier, Power Broker magazine, and N-Touch News;
- Latinx community through Spanish-language publications like CENTRO and La Gaceta;
- GLBTQ+ community through outlets like Watermark;
- Seniors through AARP’s website, mailers and newsletters, and the Tampa Bay Times’ LifeTimes section.
Many community news publications limit coverage opportunities to news that’s happening in that neighborhood. It could be a new branch or location in that area, or a new initiative that helps that neighborhood. It’s important to understand what the publication covers before pitching story ideas.
At times, it may make sense to place an “advertorial” – a paid ad with copy written in news style – to carry forward a company’s messages. The most successful advertorials match the publication’s style and tone while being helpful to the reader. Advertorials can be useful for educational campaigns or to provide more information about a product, service or company than a community publication has space to provide in its news pages.
Community publications, like many other businesses, have struggled during the COVID pandemic. But they serve an important role in our communities, and we continue to support their work.