Leader Community News is synonymous with local news in Melbourne, reaching two million locals each month. Local councils provide us with a great deal of content, which we recognised as a great opportunity to find out what local issues were important to the communities we operate in. We also wanted to know what locals like about living in the area and how they engage with regional news.

We developed a plan to gather this relevant information — and put it to good use. So much research ends up sitting on the shelf and not being integrated into businesses or rolled out to customers, and we wanted to avoid that.

We decided that we would share the data we collected with our council partners, who in turn could use it not only provide more content, but also to advertise with us in an engaging way. This would open doors for our team from the sales force to senior decision makers.

Conducted online amongst 3,000 Melburnians by Ipsos MediaCT, the results were analysed in-house and developed into an engaging presentation for council CEOs and heads of marketing. The goal was to obtain a better understanding of their local priorities and to help them to better understand how residents get their local news. 

Leader Community News engaged locals in research about community issues most important to them.
Leader Community News engaged locals in research about community issues most important to them.

We gave Melburnians a list of more than 40 local issues and asked which issues were important to them. We found that regardless of the life stage of respondents, medical services were overwhelmingly important to everyone. Also topping the list of issues were clean streets — including hard rubbish collection, litter bins, and public parks — public transportation, and traffic congestion. 

More than three-quarters of Melburnians said that keeping up-to-date with local news was important to them; and these numbers were highest among new migrants, seniors, families, and empty nesters — groups that are more likely to do most of their living locally.

At least 63% of younger people without children reported an interest in keeping current on local news about their area. And these people all had something in common: they get their local news from free community newspapers and Web sites.

To discuss these results, Leader editors set up meetings for myself, Leader’s Editor-in-Chief John Trevorrow, and our sales managers. We brought Leader-branded biscuits for morning tea to enjoy while we discussed the results and how they related to each individual council.

We made the presentation conversational, peppering it with stories that have run in the newspaper and allowing plenty of time for discussion. We covered 19 out of 23 councils across Melbourne. The presentation included images of Melburnians who have appeared in our stories, voice recordings of some of the comments we collected, and examples of stories, sections, and campaigns that aligned with our findings.

Many of the top issues to locals that were illuminated in our data are influenced by the local council or are joint local council/state government issues. This led to discussions about how to approach the issues together.  We showed several examples of how Leader reports on these issues at the local, state, and federal level.

The meetings and presentations were extremely well received and in line with the councils customer satisfaction studies. By delivering research in an engaging and personalised way, we turned around previous advertising revenue declines from councils. In fact, by showing that we really understand local issues of importance and how to engage with our communities, we have seen a 33% increase in revenue. 

Councils now have a greater understanding of the role of local press and the strength of Leader Community News in the market, and we will continue to work closely with them on areas of importance to our citizens and communities.