One of my favorite local blogs is Our Oakland, written by @DIYGene, is exactly the kind of local publisher we want to help have a voice. I love how Gene honestly explores the city. Each place he goes he talks about it like its a fresh discovery. As he explores the signage of miss Pearl's Jam house, or explains the flavors and sights of our local wineries, he makes them feel like I am explorer on a journey through places I have never been.
Sometimes Gene is just talking about what he saw at a place or a picture that he took, sometimes he shares his honest opinion about the subject itself:
I have to admit being somewhat conflicted about zoos. On one hand, a good zoo can teach people a lot about animals and preserving the habitats necessary to support those animals. And most kids love zoos, at least for a certain age range. On the other hand, even a good zoo has the animals captive, and at best they live in an approximation of their natural habitats. In any event, Oakland has a pretty nice zoo.
The honesty of that voice resonates, and its clear that the interest is based on the purity of that interest for its own sake. That's the thing people want from local, honest voices they can trust. When reading how fun the Random Party was at Linden Street Brewery it makes me thirsty and I am suddenly interested in drinking Adam's beer right now.
Genuineness is the best form of sales. My father sold people their first homes, and he told me that sales wasn't about lying about stuff so people will buy it, its about telling the truth and helping people find stuff they actually like. All being shill does is make people mistrust your authority and decrease you value as a referrer. When I see that you have genuine interest in something that creates value in you as a referrer for that which you have interest. You are singing the gospel of local, and advertising it as something that has worth.
To be perfectly clear this is all about local advertising. Our Oakland, is a form of local advertising, it just a more honest kind that feels better to your heart and brain. Its yummier local advertising because it comes from a place of integrity. Local advertising is transforming, every merchant has 1100 dollars that they were using on traditional forms of local advertising like yellow pages and newspaper. Where are they going to find the best value as this eventually transform to digital? Is it Yelp with the 456 strong wall of opinions? Is that expertise you can trust? Is it Groupon, where the Merchant bears the brunt of "the offer" and may not get any loyal customers at all? The place where they should advertise is where they can tell their story, people can fall in love with what they do, and become long term "patrons".
I think it's honest voices like Genes that people crave as grass roots advertising. People crave these voices because when its a local enthusiast, it resonates with their own love for a place. Local voices matter not just because they allow for a common thread and identity, they are also a product people trust and want.