Many experts in the field of marketing will remind you that your brand is not, in fact, a logo.
Your brand is the way your customers experience your brand.
Your brand is the sum total of all the many ways anyone and everyone (customers or not) experience your brand.
Sometimes, it’s important to remember that your brand is also what you do — your mission, the values you live by every day, and those little and big things your staff do that cut to the core of who you are.
You may not even think of it as marketing (most news media staff do not), because it is very simply just what you do, day in and day out.
Sometimes these everyday acts rise above because they have such a big impact.
Connecting communities amidst natural disasters
In the case of two 2016 natural disasters in the United States, USA TODAY Network markets experienced this firsthand.
Amidst massive flooding, storms, and disruption, the Louisiana Daily Advertiser and Florida Today balanced traditional news media coverage in print and online, social media coverage including direct content such as Facebook Live video, and good-old fashioned phone calls to connect first responders, government staff, and community agencies to people in need.
The staff worked tirelessly to bring information and resources to readers at a time of great need. When they saw people in potentially dangerous situations, or neighbourhoods being overlooked by relief and recovery efforts, they used their own resources, connections, and platforms to bring attention to those who could help most.
In the face of some of the worst flooding Louisiana has seen in recent years, the Louisiana Daily Advertiser responded by collecting needed supplies, connecting stranded residents to immediate relief supplies and rescue services, and covering the unmet need of residents in a town overlooked by government response efforts.
“We responded with community connecting,” recalled President Judi Terzotis. “Our news meetings went beyond discussions of content to what our audiences needed now, what they needed most. Increasingly, we think of our craft as delivering that which is needed to those who need it, from information to advice, from a smile to a sympathetic ear, from supplies to a place to rest and recover.”
Florida Today worked proactively to cover Hurricane Matthew by embedding reporters with first responders and using Facebook Live to provide immediate updates. It continued post-storm coverage with information about aid and relief organisations, and stepped up to secure a Gannett Foundation donation to Metro United Way of Brevard toward relief efforts.
President Jeff Kiel observed: “It really reinforced what we all know, and that is the important role we play in the community during a crisis like this. As I said to the group, during something like this while others are running away, what’s exciting is that we run towards it, and we do so on behalf of the community.”
Don’t be modest — your work is your brand
News media companies can be a powerful force for good in their local communities by connecting people with the information they need, as well as by shining a spotlight on those who need help.
All of this is certainly not unique to USA TODAY Network. Every news media company has a responsibility to connect their communities to information and resources. We do it every day.
Because of that, this very act, of sharing information when our communities need it most, becomes a brand experience. And it’s one that we can be proud of.
Providing useful information and news 24/7 is standard and expected. Doing so when it is needed most shows exactly how committed your company is with your community, and demonstrates the true core of your brand.
Don’t be modest about telling the story of who you are through what you do. Your work as a news media company is your brand.