Historically, Australian parents have found it difficult to locate resources to help inform their decisions about their child’s education. They have questions such as, what school their child should attend, how private and public schools compare, and what is the best NAPLAN performing school in their area.
In 2019, News Corp Australia introduced Ultimate Schools Hub, a one-stop solution for parents that provides the information they need on education and local schools. Ultimate Schools Hub is hosted on News Corp masthead Web sites, like this one at The Courier Mail. Using the tool, parents can search for their postcodes to see how local schools compare across a range of data points, including academic results, suspensions, funding, fees, and capital expenditure.
The Courier-Mail’s eigital editor, Tanya French, conceptualised the Ultimate Schools Hub idea after identifying education as a key subscription driver. The initiative would also offer the opportunity to unite resources across the country to create content and data that could be sliced, diced, and personalised across News Corp mastheads.
News Corp Australia’s National Education Data Journalist Geoff Egan and Marketing Manager Sarah Lunney joined Tanya to form the delivery team that took the idea from concept to project.
The Ultimate Schools Hub objectives were to:
Generate digital subscriber acquisition.
Retain current subscribers through engagement.
Increase newsroom efficiency by reducing duplication of effort in local markets.
Deliver engaging education content to parents, a key audience for News Corp Australia mastheads.
The Ultimate Schools Hub was a first-of-its-kind project in Australia. It aimed to present school and education data in a wider, more engaging, and comprehensive way than News Corp Australia had done previously.
News Corp Australia’s Metro, Regional, and Community mastheads supported the initiative by including an Education section on each Web site, ensuring Australians across the country could access the resources along with their regular local news.
Comprehensive datasets on every school in Australia were analysed by a small group of journalists and developers, who then published dozens of news stories and built searchable interactive tables that enabled parents see how their school compared to others within their community. The topics covered included class sizes, student-teacher ratios, school income and funding, and NAPLAN results.
The stories were centrally managed by the project team, and then localised for more than 70 News Corp metropolitan, regional, and community mastheads across Australia.
The marketing and public relations team amplified the project efforts through:
- Digital ads, including display and high-impact homepage takeovers.
- Print ads.
- Editorial pointers.
- Newsletter distribution.
- Social media content and seeding stories into online communities.
- Digital OOH.
- External publicity including TV, radio, and digital media coverage.
The Ultimate Schools Hub is a feature only available to News Corp Australia subscribers, providing information that can't be found in this format elsewhere. The project delivered unparalleled results, driving significant subscriber acquisition and engagement.
It had a 221% return on investment, taking into account production, marketing, and promotion. The dozens of stories the project produced exceeded the subscription goal by 800%.
Alongside these fiscal results, the innovative project has set the standard for collaboration within News Corp Australia. Rather than time and effort being spent by each local newsroom sourcing, collating, fact-checking, and analysing data to write these stories, the project team managed this process centrally, allowing local newsrooms to focus their time and energy on interesting local angles to ensure stories relevant and tailored to their community.
The seamless rollout across so many mastheads has become a model for future national collaborations.