The Press and Journal is Scotland’s longest-running daily newspaper, having been established in 1747. Owned by DC Thomson, The Press and Journal serves audiences across north and northeast Scotland, both in print and online.
In 2020, DC Thomson embarked upon a mission it called Apollo. That mission was to completely transform our newsrooms from a print-first publisher to a new digital-first news organisation.
The aim of Apollo is to better serve our communities with compelling and relevant content via our mini-publishing teams, which have been tasked with producing innovative storytelling and high-quality reporting.
Leading with a story
In August 2021, we started planning a brand campaign to reposition The Press and Journal as a digital-first news product and cement our place within our patch. Driven by competitor challenges in our target market, we built our brand value proposition: Every story starts with you.
During six weeks of campaign activity, we delivered a multi-channel brand campaign that resulted in:
- 8% increase in the familiarity with The Press and Journal.
- Increased recognition of local connection to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
- 988,060 paid social media impressions.
- 1,466,590 out-of-home impacts.
- 79,000 opportunities to see (OTS) in earned media coverage.
The campaign objectives we identified were:
- To stamp out The Press and Journal’s authority in the region: We have been here since 1747.
- Reenforce our Apollo principles: A new digital- and local-first news offering that showcases our new, innovative ways of storytelling.
- Strengthen an emotional connection to the brand, making the community feel The Press and Journal’s role is vital.
- Produce a brand tool-kit of messaging that re-enforces our brand value proposition and live on our channels, beyond the active campaign period.
Our campaign positioning put real Aberdeen people, businesses, and our journalists front and center to mark our move to a digital-first news provider while underlining our dedication to telling the stories of Aberdeen’s people and our commitment to serving them with quality news.
At the heart of our thinking was our Press and Journal brand manifesto, written in collaboration with our editorial team:
The world might value our communities for their vast expanses of natural beauty, their sweeping views, and their hidden bolt holes for quiet contemplation. We share in that value, but we also treasure what can’t be found on a map, what makes it home.
We are the north, and that’s something we wear with pride.
There are so many success stories to tell, and The Press and Journal tells them all.
Stories of community. Stories of support and connection. Stories of new business and growth. Stories of innovation. Doing things the right way over the easy way. To innovate like only we know how.
At The Press and Journal, we’re proud of what we do every day. Like you. We’ll always put the north, and you, at the center of the story.
With this mission statement in mind, we mapped out a twofold creative strategy: first, we wanted to capture audience hearts by highlighting the emotional benefit. Once we had our captive audience, we would retarget via minds to highlight our product benefit.
Our hearts strategy included:
- Hero creative that pulled on heartstrings.
- Images that reshaped and reasserted our relationship with Aberdeen.
- Featuring real people and real stories.
- Positioned The Press and Journal as an institution.
Our minds strategy was:
- Simple copy-led, CTA-driven creative delivered to a captive audience.
- Messaging that spoke to our heritage and trust — but also our online transformation (Apollo).
- Key product benefits highlighted — later down the funnel, once we’ve won over people with our hero creative, this is the “proof point” that encourages people to subscribe.
Our multi-channel approach included out-of-home (bus stops and bus panels), paid social media (including brand film), on-site messaging, radio, print ads, and PR.
The campaign is considered a success, as a post-campaign survey revealed:
- Brand recognition grew to 83%, compared to 75% pre-campaign.
- Association as a local news provider grew to 88%, compared to 70% pre-campaign.
- The campaign has a 19% ad recall.
- Awareness of The Press and Journal content types increased consistently, post-campaign — particularly with oil and gas, culture, farming, and politics content.
- Readership across our social media channels also increased by 4%.