AddThis SmartLayers

Minister backs call for local digital-only titles to get government ad cash

A minister has backed calls for local digital-only publishers to be included in future public information advertising campaigns.

Alex Burghart, Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office, has encouraged independent and hyperlocal titles to apply to the UK Government’s media buyer OmniGOV after being quizzed on the issue by former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale in the House of Commons.

Mr Burghart’s backing came after he praised the effectiveness of the local media in spreading public information campaigns.

In Parliament on Thursday, Mr Whittingdale asked his Tory colleague what he had “made of the effectiveness of Government information campaigns in local media”.

The 'All in, all together' campaign was run across regional press titles in 2020

The ‘All in, all together’ campaign was run across regional press titles in 2020

In response, Mr Burghart said: “The Government monitor the effectiveness of our communication campaigns. We recognise the enormous trust that the public have in local media and the important role that local media therefore play in spreading our messages.

“As just one example, a recent press partnership on access to NHS services used local media to inform the public about where to seek medical advice. Some 67pc of readers said that they trusted the articles, highlighting local print’s importance to communities.”

Mr Whittingdale then urged Mr Burghart to ensure that online-only publishers such as Nub News, which publishes a title in his constituency of Maldon, in Essex, are “included in future campaigns”.

During the coronavirus pandemic, hyperlocal trade body the Independent Community News Network claimed the Government’s ‘All In, all together’ public safety campaign, which was run via the regional press, would “not reach many communities” because its members were not involved.

The minister responded: “I completely agree with my right honourable friend, who knows a great deal about the subject.

“’All in, all together’ harnessed the power of local media and was particularly effective in reaching specific audiences to spread vital information.

“As he will appreciate, sometimes we want a more targeted approach to get better cost-effectiveness.

“I should also say that we use OmniGOV, and any local outlet – online or otherwise – that wishes to be on the list can apply by contacting OmniGOV directly.”