My Town
2021 Finalist

My Town

Mackay Daily Mercury

Mackay, Australia

Category Events

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign

My Town initially sought to uncover issues and discover community champions whose tireless work behind the scenes made their towns and localities thrive. 

But as coronavirus spread its invisible but dangerous grip on the region, state, country and world, My Town took on a different purpose. The series was forced into hiatus when the March 2020 lockdown came into effect, and businesses and communities doubled down with a steely mindset to ‘just get through’.
It was during these three months that the physical Daily Mercury stopped printing. Print’s cessation threatened the Daily Mercury masthead in an unprecedented way. Readers wrongly believed “their paper” had vanished. The editorial team more than halved, from 17 to eight. We lost our sales and admin teams. We lost our office. The physical presence of the paper disappeared but for eight journalists. A series of library workshops went some way to addressing readers’ concerns and allaying fears “their paper” was no more. It helped engage them and led to direct and indirect subscriptions.
My Town returned to fill the void as so many were left without a paper to connect them to their wider community. Despite a halved editorial team, the fortnightly rotation of towns began again with Mackay Regional Council sponsorship, pairing an elected councillor with a Daily Mercury reporter. The $5000 sponsorship recognised the importance of connecting with the 30 townships outside of Mackay’s city gates, and the role the Daily Mercury played in community advocacy. My Town bridged the rural-city divide in a material way, giving residents direct access to their journalist, and their council.

Goals

  • Increase Daily Mercury brand awareness
  • Increase digital subscriptions 
  • Reduce subscription churn
  • Increase PVs/reader engagement
  • Understand hyper-local community issues
  • Fight for readers’ concerns

Branding

  • My Town dinkus for print/online
  • Use branding as tag to create topic page for campaign and bucket on the home page
  • Use branding in state paper Courier Mail when promoting events and stories that are used

Results for this campaign

My Town has won Habana residents a review of the Mackay Council’s land use policy. Readers, through the series, told the Daily Mercury they wanted the right to sub-divide their land to keep struggling farming families united. A series of stories highlighted the breadth of the issue, and the council has agreed to review its planning policies.

Eton business owners were hamstrung with miners’ parking in the main street, crippling the local economy as residents were unable to park to shop. My Town exposed the issue and secured support from the local state politician in triggering a review. The State Government is now looking at implementing new measures.

These are just two outcomes from the My Town series. They are results for the community, strengthened ties with regional readers, and engaged audiences otherwise overlooked in the Mackay media landscape. It has proven the Daily Mercury is essential.

We also dedicated six days to meeting readers at libraries when we moved to digital only; helping people subscribe, set up devices and navigate the website. The entire team did the same thing during a marketing roadshow with about 90 readers over two sessions.

Despite the drain on reduced editorial resources after regional newsrooms across Queensland were pared back and print editions ceased, the Daily Mercury’s My Town initiative has increased its regional presence. 

  • My Town was one of the initiatives that helped the Daily Merc go from 2184 subs in 2019 (42 per week) to 5486 (105 per week) in 2020
  • From 16 small town visits, My Town gained almost 16,000 views across 19 sites (1413km between Airlie Beach in Queensland and Grafton in New South Wales)
  • In Mackay: 15,077 PVs, 9506 UVs, 53 new subscriptions
  • Facebook reach ranged from 3000 to 21,365
  • $5000 Mackay Regional Council annual sponsorship
  • 100 hours invested, more than 2000km travelled, more than 100 issues/stories told
  • Audience growth almost doubling from about 240,000PVs in 2019 to 430,000 in 2020.

Contact

To contact a company representative about this campaign, click here for the INMA Member Directory

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