AJC Recaps 2017: The Year In Real Journalism

Publicly traded companies produce annual reports to stockholders, telling them why they are a good investment.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff realized they had the same opportunity to provide an end-of-year health report on what they accomplished.

AJC Brand Marketing Vice President Amy Chown says, “We have shareholders; they’re called subscribers and they’re invested in our journalism.”

From there, the marketing campaign was born, “2017: The Year in Real Journalism.” It was a chance to remind readers of the important work they had done. “You can’t just assume people will remember all the great things you have done, all the issues we’ve shed light on.”

They didn’t want to just do an old-fashioned, printed annual report. Instead, they produced a creative campaign to stretch throughout the month of December and into 2018. It is an extension of the successful “Worth Knowing” campaign AJC’s parent company, Cox Media Group, launched over the summer.

The campaign started with a “community impact” report that wrapped the Sunday paper on November 26 and was repeated on Sunday, December 10. Additionally, newsroom leaders are writing a series of six Sunday columns focusing on stories of community impact. Online, a video shows the importance of real journalism, there are listicles recapping the year and a news quiz, to challenge readers to see if they really knew what was going on in 2017. These pieces of the campaign are all curated on a landing page.

Additionally, the video was edited into snackable portions to be shared at later time. Chown explains the non-time sensitive items will be recycled and used in 2018. She expects the campaign impressions to top 27 million.

“It was a strong content marketing play,” she says. “We had a story to tell.”

The reaction from readers and staff have been equally positive, with both populations writing in to say thanks for the campaign.

“There has never been a more important time to reinforce the value of what we do,” Chown says. This was the core idea behind the “Worth Knowing” campaign originally, which has spread into a “worth reading” campaign. Cox Media Group tested the effectiveness of the “Worth Knowing” campaign over 30 days in Ohio at the Dayton Daily News. They placed the campaign in TV and radio resources to amplify its reach. After the testing period, two-thirds of paper subscribers rated the campaign an eight or higher (on scale of 10) as a reason to continue subscribing.


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