Overview of this campaign
Early in 2014 The Gympie Times editor Craig Warhurst and deputy editor Shelley Strachan sat down with advertising manager Tracey McKean to come up with a marketing plan to engage readers, help increase advertising revenue and circulation of the daily newspaper. We came up with Project Engage.
Project Engage came in two parts, News First and Community Connect. News First was designed to get more people to pick up The Gympie Times at the news stand and increase causal sales. We changed the look of the front page, transitioning to hard hitting, dynamic front pages to sell the strongest news story of the day. We used The Gympie Times Facebook page and webpage to market the paper and source reader feedback on local issues, in real time, then we incorporated those local voices into the news content. In 2014, we had more local opinions in print than ever before.
Community Connect was the second stage of the plan and showed our readers we cared about the community and were willing to campaign for and promote the region. We decided to champion a major event or promotion each month during 2014. We used our online and print power to market the ideas across the region, boosting our profile in the community and providing advertising revenue opportunities for the sales team.
The Gympie Times hosted a range of events and promotions. Some of the key initiatives included a campaign, Heart of Gympie, to promote our “dying” CBD, school photo features, hosting a public meeting to investigate flood mitigation ideas, a free concert with our X Factor star Caitlyn Shadbolt, entering a float in the annual Gold Rush street parade, sponsoring and marketing the Gympie Music Muster and campaigning all levels of government to fast track the killer national highway south of town.
A full list of promotions and achievements can be found in the documentation attached to the entry.
Results for this campaign
PROJECT ENGAGE RESULTS
Results from Project Engage speak for themselves.
The adoption of the first phase of Project Engage, News First, saw The Gympie Times become the top performing daily newspaper, in circulation, across Australia for 2014 (ABC audit results). In the third quarter of 2014 The Gympie Times grew circulation by 1%, the only daily paper in the nation to grow circulation in that period (ABC audit results). Our online and Facebook audience continued to grow. Facebook likes grew by 65%, giving readers unprecedented input into the newspaper.
Two of our Community Connect projects, the second phase of Project Engage, Little People Going Places, a pictorial celebration of the 2014 prep students and Formal Fever a 24-page pictorial lift-out of the 2014 formals boosted circulation by 20 and 24% respectively when published.
Our Community Connect flood mitigation campaign and public meeting to come up with ideas to help mitigate flooding in the Gympie Region saw two flood mitigation projects get underway in 2014, with other projects on the council drawing board for 2015.
Another Community Connect campaign to fast track a killer section of the national highway also produced results. After a three-month campaign State and Federal Governments promised to spend $26 million to upgrade the deadly stretch in early 2015, a move that will save many lives.
Because of the change in direction under Project Engage, The Gympie Times went on to win the prestigious PANPA Daily Newspaper of the Year award in the Community Daily section; the paper also won the APN Newspaper of the Year award for 2014.
Financially, The Gympie Times has also performed. In a tough local market, The Gympie Times produced group leading financial results for APN in 2014. Profit was up more than 40% year on year and local advertising and audience revenue both increased by approximately 5%. Staff retention for the past two years has been high and this stability, at a time of high churn in the industry, helped to produce the outstanding bottom line results.