Heroing Local Journalism
2021 Finalist

Heroing Local Journalism

News Corp Australia

Surry Hills, Australia

Category Digital Subscriptions

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign

Our primary goal was to develop a sustainable model to acquire paying subscribers via audience-led local journalism, in volumes that delivered step change growth.

In previous years we had seen YoY digital growth through local subscriptions so we knew there was demand, however we needed to accelerate it.

We developed a plan that would enable us to focus on scaling audiences:

  • Transition from multi-state to one national editorial structure, implementing a high performance environment culture through reporter and editor training to create, distribute and promote content that our audiences value

  • Establish digital first newsrooms following the shift to digital only mastheads

  • Implement a content strategy for each masthead based on data and insights to enable investment in journalism that drives greater value

  • Conduct a comprehensive assessment of Australia’s 544 Local Government Areas to understand the locations with the highest propensity for conversion from local content 

  • Capture new audiences by expanding into new geographies - 16 new locations in 2020

  • Recruit new reporters in these regional areas where News doesn’t currently have a presence

  • Double-down in existing footprints by recruiting more jounalists to realise greater growth potential

  • Scale data journalism from infancy to all local markets to deliver high volume, high value content

  • Expand our live streaming of grassroots sport

  • Amplify top performing local content to local audiences

  • Build social communities in each local masthead area to deliver a more engaging experience for readers

To help us implement this ambitious plan in a short time frame, we established News Corp Australia’s first growth Mission - the Hyperlocal tribe - bringing together team members from across the business who would be responsible for driving this change. 


Results for this campaign

Our initial FY21 target was $5.2m revenue contribution and 27.9k (+82%) active subscriber base growth YOY however based on performance we raised the bar to $7.1m and 40.2k (+161%) respectively. Under strict COVID-19 lockdown conditions, year to date we achieved both.

  • Hyperlocal is now the fastest growing division in News Corp Australia’s publishing portfolio at +218% YOY

  • Approximately 45% of our four metropolitan (metro) newsroom sales are generated from local content, up from 22% in 2019

  • We launched 16 new local mastheads in 2020 which are driving subscription sales at 25% above target. Key success criteria includes:

    • Employing local journalists who work and live in their community

    • Developing the right content strategy for each masthead using Verity data (our newsroom analytics tool)

    • Implementing best practice social distribution strategy

    • Lower locked content percentage at launch to enable sampling

    • Launch support from metro mastheads

    • Adopting a lean, templated model optimised via test and learn

    • Marketing support using targeted social campaigns and search to generate brand/content discoverability to drive subscriptions at target CPA (we moved away from driving brand awareness offline)

  • We have commenced a pilot in one regional area to test the impact on subscription sales when we increase the number of reporters in that region - results pending

  • In 2020 our data journalism stories have grown from virtually zero to 11% of all local subscription sales and we continue to test and learn new ways of using automation technology alongside reporters

  • We have successfully live streamed a number of grassroots sports resulting in over 1,000 subscription sales

  • We are seeing higher retention from local content compared to the average after 12 months

  • We have employed 16 reporters to cover new territories, primarily in regional Australia, ensuring we do not create news deserts

  • We have shifted from multiple newsrooms to a single structure generating efficiencies and a one team environment

At the end of 2020 we are only just beginning this journey. 



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