Everything is local
A view from Sue Unerman

Everything is local

The average British southerner moves no more than six miles from their birthplace. (I've managed 6.4 so far). The average northerner moves no more than three miles.

Of course, that doesn't stop you being a global citizen and, in our trade, we all work with global media these days. But home is where the heart is and the new Local Media Works Awards are a welcome reminder that very local media can deliver a powerful boost to a communications mix and is perhaps too often overlooked in the rush for the new.

However huge or global an idea might be, it is literally experienced locally. Our senses are local. Even if what we are experiencing has broad appeal, we are physically in a specific place and that's where we're receiving the message. Recognising this and leveraging it can deliver much-needed competitive advantage in many categories where the plans are focused on getting traction in social media and can ignore the possibilities that local media can provide for delivering up-close-and-personal meaning.

The local newspaper medium itself has woken up to the possibilities of innovation. Think of the Sky and Johnston Press AdSmart partnership, which delivers new local marketplace opportunities.

There's a huge amount of possibility if you think local. Digital out-of-home can deliver postcode-specific messaging relevant to time of day and type of audience. Mobile ads are local in your pocket.

But let’s not forget print. Do you know how many local newspapers there are? There are 1,100 local newspapers and 1,700 associated websites in the UK. At some stages of life, trust in local papers rides high.

The reasons people have for buying and reading local papers have fundamentally changed since Google, eBay and property portals. Local press used to be primarily utilitarian in the days when classified print ads ruled. Now it's for local gossip, campaigns to save the library or lido, scandal at the school, curiosity about new shops on the high street and news of local crime. Difficult though this may be to believe for some readers, there are times when the excitement of Kimye becomes background to the imperatives of your local community, especially when your children are young or your parents are elderly – that's when you may feel closer to your locale than to the 1,000 friends around the globe on Facebook.

Being close is one of the crucial techniques for delivering truth and authenticity. And it's often under-exploited. There's opportunity for driving advantage here. For any campaign, it's worth asking these questions: can you tailor your messages to make them relevant locally? Is there any brand in your competitive set that is really close emotionally to the consumer? Can your brand get closer by creating local meaning?

The Edelman trust survey shows the continuing growth of trust in "people like me". Can you make heroes of your local employees to leverage that trust?

Sue Unerman is the chief strategy officer at MediaCom