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The Locally Engaged subscribe because they care about the community

The Locally Engaged are a group keenly interested in content about the community and its institutions, and they want to be engaged and informed locally.

They say that access to local news is a major reason they wanted a subscription to the paper, and they closely follow news about local politics or their immediate town or neighborhood.

Notably, their subscription decisions are less likely to be affected by a promotion or discount, or by access to coupons. These people are “news junkies,” especially about where they live, and want the news regardless of whether a temporary price break is available.

They have some overlap with the Life Changers path. They are more commonly found at small or medium-sized papers compared to other subscribers.

This group devours local politics coverage and is particularly likely to value journalism as a check on leaders’ power.

When asked why they subscribed, the Locally Engaged provide answers such as “I value local news” or “I always subscribe to a local newspaper so I can be up to date on local news.”

The Locally Engaged include 18 percent of total respondents.

“It has all the local news and special events for the immediate area, plus good deals for free or discounted food in area restaurants,” says a Locally Engaged subscriber.

Publisher strategies for the Locally Engaged

These subscribers are energized by coverage of their local communities, especially local politics, and their local newspaper may be the only place to get reliable, accurate coverage.

In a way similar to Topic Hunters, these local news followers would benefit from news alerts and email newsletters around the topics that most resonate with them, which in their case are local government, neighborhood, and other local civic topics.

Publishers of metro news organizations are uniquely positioned to deliver the local content that interests these subscribers. There are a number of steps publishers should consider here.

Publishers can create and deploy email newsletters and alerts around local topics to engage readers who can then convert to paying subscribers.   

And publishers could seek partnerships with local organizations such as businesses, service organizations, and nonprofits. The Locally Engaged are invested in the civic life of their community, and we would guess they are likely to be members, volunteers, activists, and supporters of other civic-minded organizations.

Some newspapers are partnering with local businesses and universities to create bulk subscription packages. Many newspapers have set up successful institutional sales programs and work with local colleges and universities to provide copies of the newspaper on campus, as well as providing online access for the students and faculty. This is an efficient and profitable way for the publisher to reach many readers through a single subscription.

Up close: Who are the Locally Engaged?

Nearly half of the Locally Engaged subscribe to a small or medium-sized paper. The Locally Engaged are an especially important path for smaller publications. 

Locally Engaged Other subscribers
Small paper 25% 13%
Mid-sized paper 22% 13%
Small metro paper 30% 33%
Large metro paper 22% 41%

Data Source: Small papers include those with circulation between 0-50,000, mid-size papers include those with circulation between 50,001 and 99,000, small metro papers include those between 100,000 and 199,999, and large metro papers include those with 200,000 or more.

Media Insight Project

Locally Engaged subscribers all cite access to local news as important to their decision to subscribe. Four in 10 also say a number of interesting articles, topic coverage, and wanting to support local journalism were important.

They are also more likely than other subscribers to mention wanting access to local news, recently moving to the area, or seeing many interesting articles as background factors.

Locally Engaged Other subscribers
I wanted access to news about my local community 100% 52%
I noticed a number of especially useful or interesting articles 46% 37%
I was looking for a news source that covers a particular topic/issue 45% 25%
I wanted to support local journalism 42% 29%
I recently moved to the area 26% 14%

Data Source: Question: There are a lot of reasons why a person may decide to subscribe to a news source. Here is a list of factors that might have crossed your mind as you considered subscribing to [SOURCE]. How important was each of these factors as you considered subscribing to [SOURCE]?

Media Insight Project

There are certain topics that move the Locally Engaged—especially local politics, neighborhood news, and schools and education.

Particularly for smaller papers, these should be subjects on which to build intellectual leadership, experiment, and involve the community in audience-centered newsgathering methods such as active listening, events, and more. That can become the core of a business approach that then is expressed through analytics and marketing.

Locally Engaged Other subscribers
Local politics or government 83% 38%
My neighborhood or suburban town 37% 17%
Schools and education 12% 8%

Data Source: Question: Here are some common news and information topics. Which of these news topics do you follow most often or closely using [SOURCE]?

Media Insight Project

For the Locally Engaged, quality is critical. They are more likely than other subscribers to value the accuracy and reliability of the paper, its willingness to admit mistakes, and its being a check on people in power.

Locally Engaged Other subscribers
Helps me get reliable and accurate factual information 87% 76%
It deals fairly with all sides 77% 67%
Helps me stay informed to be a better citizen 76% 60%
It acts as a check on political leaders and other people in power 74% 59%
Helps me talk to friends, family, and colleagues about what’s going on in the news 48% 39%

Data Source: Question: People use news for many reasons. When it comes to the biggest reasons you use [SOURCE], how important to you is it that it…?

Media Insight Project

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