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A night of conversations: the strength of Queensland and Australian Regional Media’s connection with Queenslanders

More than 140 agency and company heads gathered at Quay restaurant in Sydney to learn more about the strength of the QLD economy and how ARM is continuing to build connections to the lion’s share of the state, regional QLD.

Wagners managing director Denis Wagner and Magna Global managing director, Victor Corones discussed the amount of money being invested in Queensland projects and infrastructure.

Toowoomba’s new $100 million Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport and the $1.7 billion second Range crossing were just two of the topics of discussion at Australian Regional Media’s (ARM) Queensland Economic focus night in Sydney last Thursday.

After Qantas committed to providing 11 Sydney services to Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport, other routes, Mr Wagner pointed to, might not be Qantas' only link to Wellcamp.

Mr Wagner said Melbourne, Adelaide and Cairns would almost certainly be serviced directly from the Wellcamp airport by Qantas, and another couple of cities were likely as well.

The Wagner family are also hoping the airline will shift some of its massive, and lucrative, maintenance operation to the industrial park that surrounds the airport.

Quizzed on rumours Qantas was looking at that option, Mr Wagner smiled and said: "We certainly hope so."

The 2000ha of land around the 3000ha airport is being developed as an industrial park.

"Airports are hubs. There will be a lot of commercial business conducted in and around the airport."

Mr Wagner said getting Qantas to commit to the airport was a matter of convincing them there was a market in the Toowoomba region.

"Toowoomba is the eleventh biggest catchment area in Australia. On top of that, we had over 1.8 million people visit Toowoomba in 2013 and all of them had to drive in.

"Currently around 13,000 passengers fly into Toowoomba. That could be 1.5 million passengers a year in the next 12 to 18 months.

"Qantas will provide 11 services a week on a Q400, over 40,000 seats per annum."

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The panel: Denis Wagner, Victor Corones and Bryce Johns

Magna Global managing director Victor Corones, a former Gladstone resident who now controls the advertising spending of many big companies, said the boom times in regional Queensland was not recognized well enough out of the state.

He said state government infrastructure spending, at $5.5 billion in regional Queensland in the latest budget, was more than was being spent in Brisbane. With 76% of the state's population outside Brisbane, he told the crowd big companies needed to realize how powerful the regional market was.

He was also a proponent of regional media, saying titles like The Chronicle (an ARM publication) were recording better circulation results than the metropolitan rivals because of a deeper community connection.

ARM’s strength in connecting with local audiences was demonstrated at the event through a recent campaign with Australia’s largest outdoor retailer, BCF.

The strategy, as outlined in the presentation, was to use local, credible and engaging content to generate interest in outdoor activities during a six week campaign in five selected markets across all ARM platforms; print, online, mobile and social.

The campaign delivered exceptional results in the five markets.

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Denis Wagner, Clayton Cooke, Victor Corones and Bryce Johns

ARM Editorial Director Bryce Johns said: “We wrote a lot of stories about things we knew our readers cared about, such as the best places to go fishing, and the best camping spots in our patch. The appeal of this local content delivered twice the levels of engagement from our audience versus the industry average with an average read time of over 3 minutes per article. And then you had BCF talking about the best tent to go camping with or the best fishing rod to take. By delivering reader value we created brand value for BCF.”

All content produced was done to help create conversations for both the category and BCF, stimulating people’s behaviour to get outdoors, and as a result, built demand for BCF products.

Social media was used heavily to extend, amplify and create conversations around the campaign.

“Some of the posts were getting thousands of responses on Facebook and online. We created a conversation that people wanted to be involved in,” Mr Johns said.

The campaign delivered talkability for BCF in ARM markets, and even resulted in notoriety for local managers.

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