The Inverness Courier is a local, bi-weekly newspaper with a 200-year history. This long-running title, serving the Highlands, was unsure how to make digital transformation a reality. How do you make a local newspaper (once an integral part of a young person’s daily life, both as an information source and a tool for life’s milestones, such as buying a car or a house) useful to a younger, digital consumer? With under-35s having a very low propensity to buy a print newspaper, and 80 per cent of its revenue being derived from print, The Inverness Courier needed to change course to remain a viable business.
The Inverness Courier set up a paywall to accelerate its digital growth. It experimented with user needs and newsletters as part of this strategy, acquiring 25,000 registered newsletter subscribers in six months. It trialled different messaging and language on its website and in emails, and offered promo codes to younger audiences. This culture of experimentation has enabled the team to fail fast and learn without the burden of financial risk.
Internally, after conducting a skill gap analysis, The Inverness Courier identified the skills required to increase digital engagement (video, graphics, data visualisation) and better utilised its existing expertise in social media to drive subscriptions. It now has 3,000 paid digital subscribers, a revenue stream that did not exist prior to the programme.
“Without these programmes we would not be here. The FT and Google have given us structure and energised the organisation. Those brands have helped us cut through with stakeholders, and also helped us attract and retain talent.”Managing Director, Highland News and Media