A growing number of small businesses are pulling the plug on regional advertising because of a lack of unpaid editorial coverage.
A straw poll by Palamedes PR found that almost a quarter of local businesses are planning to cancel hard copy advertising agreements after being “largely ignored” by the editorial team.
Most claim their local papers “consistently failed” to publish press releases about their businesses, regardless of the story’s quality or objective newsworthiness.
Even charitable events and local fundraisers – once the mainstay of regional titles – went unpublished, it was said.
The majority of those polled believed they would, or should, receive some support from the newsdesk in recognition of their financial commitment.
But according to one local business owner, regional newsdesks are failing to support local businesses “on any level”, regardless of whether they are paying customers or not.
“The fact is that the papers we advertise in do absolutely nothing for us,” she said. “We’re not expecting to receive favourable editorial support – if a story isn’t worthy, for example. But we do expect our calls to be returned and for genuine newsworthy stories to be printed.”
The business owner, who asked not to be named, is now considering a digital advertising campaign on Facebook and other social networking sites. She added: “We are left in a situation where we have to submit advertorials about newsworthy events and pay for the privilege of seeing them in print.”
A spokesman for Palamedes PR, which surveyed 249 start-ups, SMEs and sole traders from across the UK, said the results of the straw poll reflect a “growing concern” for the future of hard-copy local advertising.
He said: “It is no secret that local newspapers are feeling the effects of staff redundancies and other cuts. The key to their long-term survival lies in their willingness to engage with their customers, and their ability to prevent those customers from spending their money on cheaper, and arguably more effective, platforms.”