The proliferation of social media platforms and apps often reduces local news to the equivalent of fast food: something that’s cheap, plentiful, and easy to find — even if it lacks quality and substance.
A brand study revealed that audiences had embraced the alarming perception that “local news is cheap, and I can get the same information elsewhere for free.”
To counter this mindset, Gannett launched a campaign that emphasised the value of its local news and re-established local newsrooms as a vital part of the community.
To help shape its campaigns, Gannett leaned into a series of post-COVID studies showing consumers were more focused on their communities and homes than they had been pre-pandemic. Gannett used that as a jumping-off point to connect with audiences and show its place in the community.
Reconnecting with community
The “Here for It” campaign was developed for three brands: Austin American-Statesman in Austin, Texas; The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, Arizona; and The Tennessean in Nashville, Tennessee. Borrowing the popular colloquial term used to show support for something, the marketing team created innovative ways to show everything local journalism is “here for.”
The campaign was hyper-focused on exhibiting the local expertise of the journalists in those markets and showing the value they provided — something free national competitors could not offer.
The campaign served as a scalable blueprint to change perceptions about the relevance of local news brands. Using contextual outdoor advertising and customised TikTok content, it played to the strengths of each market. Although the ads were clever, feisty, and humorous, they also had depth and delivered a clear message: local journalism improves communities.
Each campaign looked at topics locals would immediately understand but would likely be overlooked by an “outsider.” In Nashville, party buses became part of the narrative; in Austin, ads poked fun at new resident Joe Rogan — and subsequently blew up online, earning more than 1.1 million organic impressions and nearly 5,000 likes and comments.
The campaigns hit the local target market, earning additional organic reach and engagement. On TikTok, ads were shared more than 4,400 times, earning 60,000 likes and more than 1,500 comments. The campaign not only earned more than 145 million impressions but also exceeded all benchmarks established for it.
The campaign drove a change in perceptions and saw an increase in digital subscription sales compared to control markets. Some of the more impressive results included:
- A 43% increase in brand momentum.
- A 39% increase in brand preference.
- A 77% increase in the likelihood of paying for a subscription.
- A 14% increase in monthly new subscriptions during the campaign period.
With the Here for It campaign, Gannett cleverly and successfully drove awareness of its brand and established itself as the go-to source for local news.