Six reasons Gold Coast Bulletin is growing circulation

by Peter Gleeson        

News Limited’s largest regional newspaper has shown print circulation gains in the last two reporting periods — something it hasn’t done since 2005 — even while it grows its digital audience.

Click the image to view a larger versionThe Gold Coast Bulletin has achieved its second successive increase in circulation figures since 2005. Year-on-year comparisons for the 2012 July to September period showed the newspaper sold an average of 36,880 copies per day from Monday to Friday, up 0.02% or six copies per day. 
The growth comes hot on the heels of an increase in circulation for the April-to-June quarter, which climbed  0.61% or 221 copies per day to 36,378 for Monday to Friday. Before this, the last positive Monday-to-Friday, back-to-back circulation audit for the newspaper was for the June-to-December period in 2005. 
Here are the reasons I think we are growing print circulation:
  1. Campaigning: The Bulletin has dramatically increased its focus on campaigning, which played a strong role in the city’s successful bid for the Commonwealth Games. The newspaper was very much a part of this important campaign.
  2. Voice of the people: The Gold Coast Bulletin has cemented itself as the voice of the community. Our readers believe we have their back. After nearly 130 years, the Bulletin is a part of the fabric of society here. A strong community connection is one of the reasons regional newspapers have been able to shield themselves a little better from the current circulation challenges facing the industry.
  3. More investigative stories: We’ve really increased the number of our investigative stories in the past 12 months. Paul Weston’s coverage of the problems embroiling the Titans Rugby League Club and Robyn Wuth’s in-depth features on the Finks bikie gang were award-winning stories. Also, Stephanie Bedo’s award-winning series on the Gold Coast Hospital covered an important, ongoing crisis in community health care. Though investigations like this, the Bulletin is fostering debate and keeping up the pressure for change.
  4. A renewed focus on local news: We do cover national and world news, but our primary focus is local news. People want to know what's going on in their own backyard.
  5. New content: During the past 12 months, we’ve introduced exciting new content almost every day of the week. The new racing guide on Fridays and the new sport lift-out on Mondays have been extremely popular. Also, our new, Wednesday parenting section has been very well received by readers. It’s our aim to give them news they can use.
  6. Community events: In October 2011, the newspaper took the bold step of staging the Gold Coast Bulletin Bikini Parade, which set a new Guinness World Record for the world's largest bikini parade. It was a smashing success, receiving international coverage for the Gold Coast and raising money for Surf Life Saving. Since then, our record has been broken by China and Florida’s Panama City, so we’re holding another world record attempt on January 6, 2013. Although it can’t be directly linked to the circulation increase, the event is part of our wider strategy for positive branding in the community.
The increase in circulation shows there is still strong demand for the print medium in a rapidly changing media landscape. Ironically, the increase in circulation comes while we’re forging ahead in the digital space.
The Bulletin’s Web site is receiving six million page impressions per month. When big local stories break, we’re seeing 300,000 page impressions per day. To experience growth in the print platform at the same time we see an increase in demand for our online news shows that readers still have a strong appetite for print.
The Gold Coast is a vibrant, rapidly growing city, and its residents want authoritative, easily accessed news — whether via newspaper or Internet.
The Gold Coast Bulletin will remain the city’s most vocal media source. While we have incorporated a lot of new ideas, delivering in-depth coverage and analysis of local news remains our priority.

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