Hong Kong has faced unprecedented challenges in recent years. From the tumultuous pro-democracy protests that began in 2019, to COVID-19, which in its infancy impacted the city before it spread like wildfire across the rest of the world. It is hardly surprising that many of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents have begun to seek out reliable, trusted, and informed news sources to guide them during such turbulent times.
However, the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer saw 48% of Hong Kong respondents say that they find it hard to tell whether a piece of news is true or not. So while the need for trusted news is paramount, local Hong Kong readers’ needs are perhaps not being fully addressed.
Additionally, while trust in the media is clearly important to Hongkongers, so is how meaningful the brand is. For a news organisation to be reputable, doesn’t it also need to report on local issues that matter — and resonate — with local readers?
We saw an opportunity to remind Hongkongers and the loyal readers of the South China Morning Post of our dedication to quality and trusted journalism, while also highlighting the legacy of Hong Kong’s 117-year old leading English-language newspaper that has covered the issues that matter to the city since 1903.
Implementing a new revenue stream
For any news organisation, traffic and volume have long been core measurables. But in times of misinformation and clickbait, loyalty is now seen as a key metric signifying the success of a news brand. This is especially important when a news brand introduces a paid subscription model.
For a successful revenue stream, content needs to be impactful and relevant. The more relevant the content, the more value for the reader and the more likely they are to pay a premium for a brand. For SCMP, building brand loyalty went hand-in-hand with the launch of our digital subscription service in August 2020. Where better to find loyal readers than in our home city, especially when we know they are seeking out trusted news coverage?
We wanted to ensure our loyal, local readers were the focus of our digital subscription launch brand campaign, as well as mitigate the risk of alienation by speaking directly to them. We also understood the need to build on pre-existing brand awareness and take reader loyalty one step further, encouraging our local audience to support — and subscribe to — our journalism, by forming an emotional connection to the SCMP.
“Your Hong Kong, Your SCMP”
Our campaign was centered around appealing to our readers and their love and pride for their home city. The tagline “Your Hong Kong, Your SCMP” helped us reiterate to our local audience that we remain dedicated to reporting on the news that matters to them.
Our coverage — including stories, analysis, and features on events that impact their day-to-day lives — is at the heart of what we do. To reinforce this message in the campaign, we added examples of what our journalism does; our reporters don’t just regurgitate the news. Instead, our journalism exposes, celebrates, questions, perseveres, challenges, honours, remembers, and answers. These pillars of journalism form the foundation for what drives us to be the gatekeepers of “The journalism Hong Kong deserves.”
To showcase this, we paired these lines with critical, emotive, and memorable events from Hong Kong’s history. From the 1997 handover and the launch of Hong Kong’s underground system, the MTR, to the pro-democracy protests and the poignant SARS crisis, we sought to remind our readers that through the good, the bad, and the ugly, the South China Morning Post has been there every step of the way with Hong Kong.
Our Your Hong Kong, Your SCMP digital and print ads, video, and dedicated scmp.com landing page (including a letter from our editor-in-chief to add a more personal touch), spoke directly to Hongkongers. The campaign recollected the city’s experiences and memories and the role the SCMP had, and continues to have, in charting Hong Kong’s narrative.
Results and response
The response to the Your Hong Kong, Your SCMP campaign was overwhelmingly positive. In a post-campaign brand survey, 76% of local respondents said they felt SCMP resonated and was highly relevant to them.
Launched a fortnight prior to our digital subscription and live for two weeks, the campaign achieved over 1 million organic house ad and video impressions, which helped to build awareness and create brand value to our audience.
In a later survey of current subscribers, 79% of Hong Kong respondents said they were likely to renew their subscription, which was a strong latent marker for brand loyalty. As well as subsequently launching brand campaigns in different, much larger markets across the world, Hong Kong readers remain our biggest revenue source and the most loyal to the South China Morning Post brand.
Watch the Your Hong Kong, Your SCMP video here.