Committed to local journalism, The Gazette invests in Web properties that focus on Montreal communities.

The West Island Gazette caters to Montreal’s West Island community, a cluster of suburban towns that over-index with Anglophones. The West Island is an extension of the umbrella site, montrealgazette.com.

In October 2012, The Gazette re-launched westislandgazette.com and launched offislandgazette.com, responding to another growing Anglophone community off the island.

Since no news organisation is as close to the West and Off Island communities as The Gazette, the news media company aimed to demonstrate its dedication to covering these areas through a three-day stunt, appropriately called “We Cover the West.”

In the campaign, the newspaper covered topical landmarks and curious passers-by were met with the call-to-action to take a photo and share it on the Web sites’ stunt page (westislandgazette.com and offislandgazette.com) and/or via hashtag #WeCoverTheWest on Instagram and Twitter. 

Photos were fed to the Web sites and, once online, visitors were invited to explore their hyperlocal news coverage.

The stunt was supported by a print, Web, and radio campaign, as well as a public relations campaign (including a press release and a “how it’s made” video), which grabbed the attention of the industry.

The campaign’s specific objectives were to:

  1. Maintain steady visitor levels in October and November, +/- 5%, even though we knew that the new offislandgazette.com property would move traffic away from westislandgazette.com, since content existed on one site beforehand.

  2. Experience a spike on westislandgazette.com and offislandgazette.com in visits, unique visits, and pageviews during the three-day stunt.

  3. Obtain an overall click-through rate from our Web campaign (driving to both westislandgazette.com and offislandgazette.com) of at least 0.1%.

  4. Obtain media coverage for the stunt through public relations.

The marketing tactics implemented for this campaign helped make westislandgazette.com and offislandgazette.com top-of-mind with West and Off Islanders. The newspaper-covered pieces were tactile and eye-catching, allowing The Gazette the flexibility to pop up in a few high-traffic locations and reinforce its message.

The results were strong:

  • From October to November, westislandgazette.com maintained stable traffic with only a 5.5% decrease, which was aligned with our first objective.

  • Offislandgazette.com saw significant traffic, with almost 8,000 visitors in October, followed by 43% and 20% increases in November and December, respectively.

  • In the course of the stunt, westislandgazette.com experienced its highest number of visits, unique visitors, and pageviews.

  • Similarly, offislandgazette.com had the lowest bounce rate and the highest pages-per-visit during the stunt.

Overall, stable traffic was seen in October and November for both sites. Moreover, Web banners on The Gazette’s network (i.e. montreaglazette.com, urbanexpressions.ca, hockeyinside.com, westislandgazette.com, and offislandgazette.com) received an overall click-through rate of 0.37%, far surpassing the industry average.