Victoria View: Hyperlocal – a welcome development

By on 29/01/2010 in Blog

Queen-Victoria-250pxThe  latest from our new series of blogs covering life inside the Birmingham City Council press office…

Here at we're constantly looking for ways to improve on our service to journalists, bloggers and residents alike.

Now bloggers often complain (with some justification) that they're overlooked or not taken seriously by press offices and large organisations. We hope to make that a thing of the past in the Birmingham City Council press office…but bear with us.

Birmingham has a thriving blogging community - possibly the most dynamic in the country - and a number of hyperlocal websites have sprung up across the city in recent years. Many of them have been added to our blogroll.

I had a meeting with the people behind one such website ( last week to look at how we can work together.

Based at the Urban Coffee Company on Church Street, Andrew Brightwell and Jon Hickman recently set up a local news site that covers, roughly, the Colmore Business District in Birmingham and called to see how we can help.

I popped down for a free coffee (how could I possibly refuse??) and a rather interesting chat.

We talked about the relationship between local authorities and bloggers, the increasing demands on press officers as the ranks of citizen journalists continue to swell and the practicalities of making information freely available.

Now please bear in mind that the Birmingham City Council press office takes hundreds of calls a week from local scribes through to national and international journalists.

We launched last year to make news releases, photographs, videos, speeches etc more easily accessible for the widest possible audience.

The site is obviously a resource for 'traditional' journalists but our aim has always been to expand that audience, also providing a service for bloggers and other interested residents.

Many citizen journalists in Birmingham are already accessing our news releases, photographs and videos via twitter and our rss feeds.

We've also included a number of bloggers on the press office mailing lists and if you blog about a certain area of the city, we're happy to add your details.

Just click here to send details of your site and we'll add you to the news release mailing list.

A note of caution…

We are only a small team and, with the sort of heavy workload you'd expect in the press office of Europe's largest local authority, I won't pretend that we can suddenly answer dozens of queries from Birmingham bloggers. But we're keen to open up the lines of communication by making information more readily available and hopefully the newsroom has been a step in the right direction.

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