At the end of each fiscal year, publicly traded companies produce an annual report for shareholders, telling them why they’ve been a good investment.

Newspapers have shareholders, too — whether part of a publicly traded or privately held company. Our “shareholders” are the subscribers who invest in real journalism through their subscriptions. Now more than ever, it is important that we reinforce our return on investment and market our value. A strong value proposition and brand is essential to build preference, loyalty, and margin.

That background provides the premise for the latest brand campaign at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC). We saw the end of the year as a timely opportunity to look back at 2017, thank our subscribers, and reinforce what they value most: knowing what’s really going on in our community.

AJC took a creative and different approach to the idea of an annual report, developing a year-end “community impact” integrated marketing campaign. “The Year in Real Journalism” is an extension of our “Worth Knowing” brand marketing strategy that began earlier in the year.

We tapped our brand research that identified what readers believe is worth reading, and worth paying for: real journalism, civic responsibility, community pride, and personal ritual.

Six campaign "storylines" were developed to capture the value of knowing what's really going on in the community.
Six campaign "storylines" were developed to capture the value of knowing what's really going on in the community.

We first identified examples of our strongest local journalism of the year and grouped stories into six campaign “storylines” that became the basis for our content marketing strategy. Only the AJC shed light, informed citizens, served communities, celebrated the best of Atlanta, started conversations, and impacted daily life.

We began the month-long campaign by using our most valuable advertising position: wrapping the front page of the Sunday AJC with a 4-page section. “Our Report to Readers” included a full–page letter from the editor and showcased examples of our most significant stories and moments in Atlanta.

Our newsroom’s top editors also wrote a series of six Sunday columns that each speak to our campaign storylines, articulating the essential role our journalism plays in Atlanta and the important relationship we have with readers. 

"The Year in Real Journalism" campaign was an offshoot from AJC's highly successful "Worth Knowing" campaign in 2016, which identified four key audience values.
"The Year in Real Journalism" campaign was an offshoot from AJC's highly successful "Worth Knowing" campaign in 2016, which identified four key audience values.

Although print was an important component to reach our most loyal subscribers, it was not the only media channel we used. In digital, we launched a significant branded content campaign for maximum visibility, delivering more than 59.5 million impressions, 173,882 page views, and 5,600 social interactions, surpassing our projections more than 33%.

Several content marketing pieces ran across advertising networks and social media:

All elements from the campaign were optimised to increase total time spent with content and are housed at www.myAJC.com/realjournalism. The AJC’s campaign will provide a dynamic case study for the sales department to showcase our branded content capabilities to others.

When subscribers see the return on their investment, they will continue to fund the important work that we do to inform and serve our customers and community.