Business Blogging: Be a Local Vocal Yokel.

You’d think that without cable TV and an over-the-air antenna that only manages to pick up a desperately fuzzy local Fox station but a decent HD ABC, our household had an ideological position against lowest common denominator television.

Far from it – we just get the lowest common denominator TV that we want, when we want it.

With PlayOn we have streaming Hulu to our TV via Xbox and with a UK VPN service, we can get live UK TV plus as much catch-up as you’d want via any computer and streamed through our Xbox extender.

The only live American TV that ever gets an airing is that there American Idol.

It’s the wife, honest. 😉

After Idol we normally have the pleasure of our weekly foray into the local frolicking fun that is Fox 8 News (Cleveland, that is). What’s beginning to astonish me isn’t the fact that local news actually accounts for 0.84% of the broadcast, but their insistence on running some bizarre Internet story every time I tune in – namely Wednesday or Thursday. They could run them every day of the week for all I know, but I can’t be bothered putting in that kind of phenomenological groundwork to make a point.

More often than not the story involves scaring everybody witless regarding Facebook. Still, far be it from me to channel my cynicism with Fox owner, Rupert Murdoch, also owning MySpace. I also can’t verify if similar stories are run through all local Fox networks around the country. And if they aren’t claiming Facebook will eat your children, they’re reporting tales of the Internet in such a way that would keep Spock with a permanently raised eyebrow – like he was on a Botox IV drip or something.

“Really, Captain.”

For example, this week we had the tale of some local Cleveland faith healer healing folks over the Internet on his laptop. For me, that wasn’t the weirdness in the story. Half the story revolved around him using Skype and how everybody involved in the online healing process emitted a unique hum (sound, not smell) through his laptop speakers. When contacted, Skype offered a rather sedate sound bite about its ability to send crystal clear audio and video calls over the Web.

Betwixt and between Fox 8’s Fortean Times / scare reporting on all things Internet, they had, of all things, an hour-long Blogapalooza a couple of weeks ago in order to get folks to sign up and start using their new Website. The cameras were behind the scenes as all the local news dignitaries tapped merrily away writing blog posts and adding content to the site along with – hopefully – some local viewers.

Their goal was 200 and they got somewhere near; and boy, were they loving the Internet that night.

You have to give them some serious props for embracing their viewers in this way, apart from the fact they spend the rest of the time pointing out how the rest of the Interwebs is some circus sideshow tearing asunder the very fabric of society.

All very passive/aggressive.

But, this love/hate relationship with the Web is easily fostered in anybody. Just sit in front of an average Twitter stream for ten minutes and you’ll soon know what I’m talking about. But, these head-slapping moments tend to always come with context – you can follow links, search, and participate in the wider conversation surrounding any given story.

Fox 8 still did a great thing trying to kick some life into their new site by getting viewers to set up blogs and contribute other content. You see, they’re a local news station for local people, and to have whoever from Mayfield Heights or ‘disgruntled’ from Avon write about their local areas can work wonders in terms of long tail local keywords – [keyword] + location.

And this is something any local business can do. Incorporate a business blog that not only talks about your core services or products but also with a local slant. As wonderfully ego-fluffing it might be to claim you rank on the first page for whatever term in Ghana, there’s nothing quite like somebody from within walking distance getting in touch or popping in actually spending a dollar or three.

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