A digital playbook for every newsroom
2018 Finalist

A digital playbook for every newsroom

News Corp News Regional Media

Bowen Hills, Australia

Category Data and Research

Overview of this campaign

News Corp’s News Regional Media had one clear objective in 2017: “To deliver and retain digital subscribers through increased audience engagement."

  With 16 newsrooms, of varying digital experience, NRM developed a comprehensive strategy to engage and grow audiences via web, mobile, social media, and local news apps.

  The objective was to not only grow display advertising revenue through increases in page views, but also build loyal, local audiences willing to pay for strong coverage of issues that matter to them.

  With declining print revenues, and reductions in newsroom staffing, smarter ways had to be developed to improve offerings, provide centralised online expertise, training and mentoring, and better identify content readers were willing to pay for.

  The News Regional Media Digital Playbook is a comprehensive guide for existing editors to execute across digital channels.

  The playbook identifies four key audience segments, based on how often they visit and consume content, and goes as far as detailing the type of stories likely to appeal to them.

  Editors are then encouraged to use different platforms – ranging from social media to news  and app alerts, to target readers, whether they are casuals, moderates, heavies or super heavy consumers of news.

 The NRM playbook runs across both ‘Metered’ and ‘Premium’ subscription models (the two companies had different strategies prior to coming together) and is flexible enough to accommodate both.

  Using daily and weekly data reports, which show stories appealing to the different reader groups, editors and reporters are then encouraged to hone in on content likely to drive both page views and subscriptions.

  The level of granularity includes topic tagging of content designed especially for local news coverage – whether a major road project, development, shopping centre, or job opportunities. The playbook has a content quad which allows editors and reporters to think of the appeal of different stories and topics, which can be tested against the data.

Results for this campaign

News Regionals Media now has more than 32,317 active paid subscribers, from a starting base of zero only two years ago.

 Specific training in headline writing, use of social media, and mobile video production has seen major improvements in online news coverage at News Corp's regional news sites.

The Gold Coast Bulletin is the strongest example of implementing the digital playbook, delivering 24% growth in digital subscriptions in the first quarter of implementation.

And despite the introduction of paid subscriptions, page views continue to grow month on month with the December 2017 quarter up 23% on the same period of the previous year.

Each week, more than 150 locally produced videos and photo galleries complement well in excess of 2000 locally produced stories.

There has been strong growth in specific subscriber-focused stories on local business, development, jobs, industry and things to do.

Each day, groupwide Facebook posts and news alerts drive significant page views, while there is far great co-operation and less duplication of efforts between neighbouring news sites.

One of the many examples of a key tactical campaign focusing on subscribers is the implementation of a Power 100 or 50 list, highlighting the most influential people in local regions.

It drove not only strong print sales, but also online subscriptions, social media engagement and brand awareness through other media coverage.

Mackay Mercury, for example, lifted its weekend sign up rate 430% on the weekend of Power 50.

There has also been a greater focus on increasing engagement with the audience, including through weekly From the Editor newsletters talking about local issues and coverage.

 On social media, NRM has more than a million people who have liked its Facebook pages, and tens of thousands more on Twitter and Instagram. Reporters not only source great stories from social media but also promote themselves as a brand to follow.


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