Isn’t it worth knowing what’s really going on in your community?

That single question provides the foundation for a new brand marketing strategy and campaign for Cox Media Group’s seven daily newspapers. The strategy focuses on the strength and value of local journalism.

As news media organisations, marketing our value has never been more important. Cox Media Group’s brand marketing strategy is based on reinforcing what readers most value from us to deepen an emotional connection and perception of value. 

Our extensive consumer research started with the question: “What do readers believe is worth reading and worth paying for?”

Four distinct themes of value emerged:

  • Real journalism.
  • Civic responsibility.
  • Community pride.
  • Personal ritual.

Our messaging centers around each of these value “story lines” and is anchored by one central theme: “It’s worth knowing what’s really going on.”

Cox Media Group conducted extensive research to re-focusing its marketing efforts on the messages that truly resonate with their local audiences.
Cox Media Group conducted extensive research to re-focusing its marketing efforts on the messages that truly resonate with their local audiences.

What readers want most is for us to be the most credible and complete source to know what’s really going on with their tax dollars, local government, roads, schools, and communities.

The word “really” is really critical to this strategy. Readers want everything our news brand delivers: the real story, the facts, the unvarnished truth, and things they might not know about if it weren’t for our experienced journalists.

One of the best quotes from a focus group came from a local business leader. He said, “When an AJC (Atlanta Journal–Constitution) reporter knocks on my door, he’s going to keep knocking and knocking and knocking — so I better be prepared.”

Another reader told us, “Who else is going to tell us about official corruption, government malfeasance, legislative chicanery, and corporate welfare?”

Delivering on our brand promise of truth and credibility is proving, not simply proclaiming, value. And the timing has never been better to market our credibility and community impact and to infuse this message of value across everything we do.

That’s where the hard work begins.

Every product and customer touchpoint impacts brand perception. We need to think and act holistically and integrate this message of value across everything. This is a shift away from marketing products or platforms, instead focusing on reinforcing brand value.

Even the call to action for subscription acquisition and retention demonstrates a shift in marketing as demonstrated in our television and radio commercial.

Our campaign is focused and consistent, yet has tremendous flexibility across media channels and news topics. We developed a brand marketing “playbook” to help stakeholders across all Cox Media Group markets incorporate and infuse the brand messaging into their work — from consumer marketing channels to customer service scripts; from community group presentations to responding to customers questioning a subscription price rate increase; from labeling and packaging content to the advertisements we place in external channels.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution built an entire brand campaign around the four value themes. Cox Media Group created a playbook for other local markets to do the same.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution built an entire brand campaign around the four value themes. Cox Media Group created a playbook for other local markets to do the same.

Think about your favourite brands — the ones that you are loyal to — the brands or stores you will choose over all other competitors. Why do you choose them? Most likely, your favourite brands are based on an emotional connection you feel and the perception of value this brand provides to you.

As news media organisations, we have the same opportunity. And we must tell that story of value consistently and reinforce what matters most to our readers.  After all, it is worth knowing what’s really going on.