A year ago Reach – the publisher behind the Irish Mirror, Dublin Live and RSVP – added a fifth digital news brand to its portfolio, making it one of Ireland’s biggest news media organisations with bases now in Belfast, Dublin and Cork.
Cork Beo launched at the end of May 2019, setting out to inform and entertain the people of Ireland’s biggest county and reflect and amplify the new energy and enterprise of a region on the rise.
A year on, the site’s editor Joe O’Shea reflects on “an action-packed and news-rich first 12 months on Leeside” with contributoins from Reach’s Group Sales Director and Business Comms Manager.
“When we went live at the end of May 2019, we were launching straight into a busy summer of festivals, major outdoor concerts, sport and tourism along our fabulous Atlantic coast. The summer of 2020, is obviously, looking a lot different. But since the very start, with a team of just two which quickly expanded to four full-time journalists and a commercial solutions hub, we have worked hard to bring Cork city and county the news, views and features that fully reflect life on Leeside,” says O’Shea.
“We have covered it all, from serious crime, to traffic and travel, jobs, the economy and the lighter side of life in the fun and food capital of Ireland,” he adds.
He points out that the site broke the 1m page views mark within two months of going live, steadily growing month-on-month to 7.5m views in May, the highest its eve. In addition, users across web, mobile and app amounted to 2.1m for the month.
“We also won our first award – for Best Use of Facebook – at the Cork Digital Marketing Awards after six months. A full year in and we’ve grown our social media following to 65k,” says O’Shea.
“Never did we think we’d be marking our first anniversary in the circumstances that we are. At the very start of the ongoing public health crisis, we began a daily live-blog which ran for 70 days up to the first phase of the Government’s return to normal plans. This allowed us to reach and cover every community in Cork, reporting the news people needed, covering businesses and community groups doing what they could to cope, highlighting the positive side as much as possible,” he says.
He points out that the editorial team has worked closely with the commercial department in rolling out its #InThisTogether coronavirus response campaign which ran on is sister sites. “This is our pledge to the small businesses of Cork that we’re here to support them,” O’Shea adds.
“The aim of the campaign was solidarity and usefulness – a resource for readers to better understand how they can continue to support their local businesses and at the same time, those businesses have an opportunity to demonstrate how they’ve been helping their customers, employees and communities. Ultimately proving how valuable our audience can be to these brands,” says LesleyAnn Diffin who manages brand communications for all Reach titles in Ireland.
According to Diffin, Cork Beo has also been a commercial success story for the publisher, being the first digital platform to launch with an advertising partnership secured in advance of it going live.
“The benefits of having an already reputable stable of media brands and tried and tested campaign models to work from”, says group sales director, Padraig Sugrue.
“From launch, Cork Beo has proved popular among Irish advertisers. It was one of the most anticipated brand launches within our group, expanding our digital audience network into a new region thus expanding our audience reach. In a year, we have collaborated with our agency and brand partners to deliver successful campaigns for Guinness Cork Jazz Festival and Six Nations, an Ulster Bank property partnership and even at this time, local Cork brands like Kearys Motor Group are turning to us to help them get back to business,” he added.
Reflecting on its first anniversary, O’Shea concludes: “I believe this collective effort editorially and commercially has helped CorkBeo to build an audience and a brand – but most importantly to build trust – in just one year. We aim to cover everything in Cork – what people are talking about – what they should be talking about – and we are looking forward to continuing to build our brand and our audience in the months to come.”