“This is Alabama” is a new brand from Alabama Media Group that was created as a platform to showcase good things happening in Alabama.
Alabama Media Group is home of the largest news Web site in Alabama, AL.com, as well as the state’s three largest newspapers. We already had a highly engaged audience on AL.com, but we heard consistent feedback from our readers who craved more positive news about Alabama and wanted a destination where they could find and engage with the content they loved.
The numbers backed up that sentiment. We regularly saw themes among our top-performing and most-shared stories: Alabamians finding success; intriguing destinations in Alabama; endearing aspects of our Southern culture. While we were telling those types of stories on AL.com, they were often obscured in a mix of other stories about crime, sports, or politics. AL.com is, after all, a news site.
Our audience needed us to make positive stories easier to find. At the same time, there was a desire in the business community to support something that championed the great things happening in Alabama. That’s how “This is Alabama” was born.
“This is Alabama” was formally launched at the beginning of 2017 after a soft, social launch in December 2016. It is primarily powered by social media through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. In print, we publish a “This is Alabama” page in the Sunday editions of The Birmingham News, Press-Register, and the Huntsville Times. The brand also has a weekly newsletter and a Web site.
We call “This is Alabama” a movement because it’s bigger than any other social media channel or Web site in our portfolio. We work with our community and our fans to actively spread our message of sharing the good. We created a brand that made people feel proud of their home and gave them content they’d want to share and apparel they’d want to wear.
We made it easy for our followers to help tell Alabama’s stories by sharing their content through hashtags, photo submissions, and guest columns. In less than two years, we’ve grown to have more than 350,000 social followers and our videos have been viewed 130 million times.
This approach has also helped us develop a new revenue model through partnerships and video sponsorship. “This is Alabama” is supported by 14 local businesses and has content series available for sponsorship.
For example, we partnered with BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama to launch a video campaign around healthy living in the South. The videos in this series included stories about Alabamians who had overcome health obstacles, healthy takes on classic Southern recipes, and outdoor activities that are unique to Alabama. Together, the videos were viewed more than 2.2 million times.
Because of this approach, the team that produces content for This is Alabama sits outside the newsroom and under a new division, Red Clay Media. The team includes videographers, photographers, writers, and social media producers, all focused on building communities and thinking of creative ways to tell our partners’ stories. This approach has allowed us to capitalise on what we do best — telling great stories and building communities — in a way that’s advertiser friendly.