Article by Craig Nayman, Local Media Works chairman
THIS week, local newspapers across the UK will celebrate their trusted role at the heart of communities during the annual Local Newspaper Week (15 – 21 May).
It is a time for local news brands to join with their customers and readers and shout unashamedly about the unique strengths of local press in all its print and digital forms.
High levels of trust – more important than ever in the run up to the general election - and reader engagement are two key assets possessed by local papers.
And they are needed now more than ever before.
Big brands are deeply concerned about the potential reputational risks associated with blind programmatic buying of digital advertising.
Procter & Gamble, the world’s biggest advertiser, has pulled billions of spend because it is worried about the lack of transparency.
Sir Martin Sorrell has issued a warning to Google and Facebook that they need to get their act together to address brand safety and fake news online.
He said that the dominance of those two companies has led to clients seeking alternative ways to reach audiences.
The global tech platforms have failed to protect brands from appearing alongside hugely damaging content.
All of this should put trust and context at a premium.
Local news brands, in print and online, offer advertisers a highly-trusted environment free from the risks associated with other platforms.
As they scrutinise spend, advertisers and agencies must remember this and reallocate budget to local news brands.
We deliver scale, reaching 40 million people a week in print and online, and we drive real action. Our website content is trusted almost three times more than social media content.
What’s more, advertisers who use news brands are supporting the creation of high quality journalism rather than an aggregator who invests nothing in content but still profits from its distribution.
The siphoning off of ad revenues by third parties in this way is bad for journalism and bad for democracy.
In uncertain times, news media journalism is needed more than ever to separate fact from fiction and give audiences the facts.
Local papers have come to make this point through the pan industry Fighting Fake News campaign.
Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn have both backed the campaign and stated the importance of trusted local journalism in combating fake news.
Using local newsbrands means an advertiser will know exactly when and where their brand will appear, and that the message will drive consumer action.
As an industry, we have always believed in transparency, trust and value, and our readers and customers expect nothing less from us.
These values are at the very core of what we do and will continue to be so for many years to come.