Fairfax Media explodes brand growth in print and online

Readers are bombarded by content, attention spans are ever shrinking and audiences are getting harder to reach. It’s all a little bit doomsday, really, but it does beg the question: in a world of attention-sapping apps, social media and content how do you create meaningful content and engagement with your audience?

Thankfully, the answer to that doesn’t have to be the academic white paper of the century. We’re seeing newspapers continue to capitalise on the power of content and unmatched engagement, (on average readers spend 50 minutes per issue with the Sunday Star-Times*) while the internet’s found its way into every pocket and content marketing has come along with it.

The combination of print, online and industry-leading content marketing means that not only can Fairfax Media reach any audience, it knows exactly what they want to read when they read it and how to get them to open it.

Case in point: the challenge laid down by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (Chartered Accountants, for short). Following a rebrand, Chartered Accountants wanted to increase brand perception to present itself as a thought leader and demonstrate it could navigate the evolving digital landscape, with the ultimate goal of showing New Zealand businesses how it could overcome their biggest challenges. 

Knowing the power of the print and online one-two punch, we created a 14 week, world-class, cross-platform content marketing campaign, combining tailored content optimised across Stuff Business and our main metropolitan newspapers. This included a dedicated online content hub featuring video and written content, full-page content features in print and supporting display advertising across all platforms. The campaign would go on to beat international benchmarks at every turn.

But first, we needed to know exactly what was keeping local businesses up at night, so we interviewed CEOs and commissioned research with Millward Brown. This identified the six challenges that were of greatest concern to New Zealand businesses: sustainability, global economy, talent and leadership, customer centricity, digital disruption, and business transformation.

Once we targeted (and engaged with) the ever-elusive C-Suite, we needed to show them how Chartered Accountants were going to tackle those concerns for their business. So, we brought together some of New Zealand’s foremost business leaders, Malcolm Rands, CEO of Ecostore; Lindy Nelson, CEO of Agri Women’s Development Trust; Philip Mills, CEO of Les Mills International; Claire Nicholson, CEO of Sirona Animal Health; Blair Woodbury, GM of marketing and business development at NZ Post; and Kirk Hope, the CEO of Business NZ, and sat them down with Fairfax Media’s national business editor Ellen Read for a chat.

These roundtables created powerful video content addressing business’ biggest concerns and how to deal with them. The videos were published on a dedicated content hub, Transforming Business (with its very own Stuff URL), and embedded in the accompanying sponsored articles that addressed the challenges in-depth, showing how they’d play out in the business world.

Print was a powerful component in the campaign with sponsored content featuring across the business sections of the Dominion Post, The Press and Sunday Star-Times.

It was this combination – and the powerful, relevant and interesting content- that made the campaign into something special, which let us not only discuss key business challenges facing New Zealand but to create re-visitable content.

Content expert and Fairfax Media’s custom solutions director Susana Leitao says: “We take an audience view, creating content we know they’ll love, positioning message over brand. We do it by, asking ourselves, ‘what’s going to work the best to tell the story and get it across to the audience?’ We know C-Suite of business are print readers and they read business sections in mastheads like the Sunday Star-Times and our mets, that’s why print was an essential component.”

It pays to note that our writers are former Stuff journalists so they embody our audience-centric approach, ensuring that all the content created for the campaign is constantly engaging and connects to our audience in a way that tells a story, not in a way that focuses on the sales pitch.

The Chartered Accountants story also had an authenticity that kept audience eager to return time and again for new content and fresh ideas.

“We need to look at what’s authentic and what the brand’s purpose is to be in that space, what’s the value they’re delivering to that audience,” says Leitao. “Sponsored content is about being led by the reader and understanding the intersection between your brand and a reader’s life. With Chartered Accountants it was about having content that was foremost about reader engagement, solving the big issues faced by business, and then about brand and product.”

“When you create content it can be repurposed,” Leitao continues.  “So, you need to look at all the ways you can leverage it and maximise its lifespan and the channels it can be used in. Some of those are the advertiser’s channels but it’s also about having an understanding of the content,  the audience and its distribution.”

Across the 14-weeks, we continuously produced new, relevant content that sustained – and encouraged – engagement and took strides towards advancing and growing Chartered Accountants’ brand perception. It was a long campaign and Leitao offers insight into just how it was pulled off.

“For longevity, it’s about the quality of the content. We knew that the subjects were strong enough that, every couple of weeks, in terms of print, we could roll out fresh, relevant and informative content. Part of that is making sure we have a campaign that’s driving audience engagement back to the dedicated Transforming Business Hub on Stuff.co.nz. It’s a combination of content strength, refreshing content on a regular basis and having a really good strategy to drive audience.”

Stuff National Business Editor Ellen Read was essential in guiding the commercial team towards content that people would want to read.

“Our audience doesn’t mind where content comes from, so long as it’s relevant, engaging and clearly labelled. You have so many metrics and so much help that there’s no excuse for us not knowing our audience and everything we do is for them, so if we don’t understand them and know what they’re going to engage with, the campaign is going to fail.”

“Ellen was a strong voice for the campaign,” says Leitao, “We collaborate closely with our editorial partners because it means we’re able to produce content that she knew would be of interest to the readers.”

So, what are the results?

Both the print and digital sides of the campaign drove astounding results (Brand Favourability increased by 29.9 percent, and Brand awareness increased by 19 percent), a testament to the power of the story being told – one of a future-focused, forward thinking business that could navigate the changing business landscape. 

But we can dig deeper than that because the across the campaign what we’ve done is pretty impressive.

We created industry leading results in***:

Brand Awareness: +19 percent
Brand Favourability: +29.9 percent
Providing a Strategic Perspective: +33 percent
Business Thought Leader: +19 percent
Ability to Navigate the Digital Landscape: +33 percent
Adaptable and able to provide a Modern Perspective: +19 percent 

*Source: Nielsen CMI Fused Q3 15 – Q2 16 Sept 16 TV/Online, 15+
**Effects of the campaign were measured via a Brand Lift Survey from Millward Brown. 

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