News is worth knowing, CMG’s newest strategy

  • Kirsten Ballard
  • 06.15.2017

On June 2, Cox Media Group (CMG) announced the launch of a new brand marketing strategy that puts the focus on the strength and value of local journalism.

The “Worth Knowing” campaign communicates the value proposition to readers that it is worth knowing and paying for news content. Its goal is to deepen the emotional connection and perception of value to consumers. It’s more than a campaign; it’s a long-term brand strategy.

The strategy was in the works before the election and fake news war began. It was never meant to be a political statement. Instead, brand team lead and VP of marketing at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Amy Chown, says it was a long-term plan to help them reach subscriber targets by telling them why the paper is worth reading and paying for. However, the growing problem of fake news highlighted the importance of the opportunity.

“Truly, there has never been a better or more important time to market the impact and credibility,” Chown says.

This brand marketing strategy and new campaign are based on messaging pathways identified through extensive consumer research. The research identified four categories of value consistent across print and digital products: personal ritual, community pride, real journalism and civic responsibility. It also confirmed that newspaper brands are central to the communities they serve.

This integrated strategy reaches across all customer touchpoints for digital and print brands of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Austin American-Statesman, Dayton Daily News and The Palm Beach Post. CMG rolled out a playbook to stakeholders, helping them strategize how to incorporate the messaging in their channels. It will appear in print ads, pre-roll, commercials, email and social media campaigns. But CMG will take it a step further and have “Worth Knowing” appear on packaging and even bills.

“It’s truly holistic,” Chown says. “We’re going to reinforce the central message.”

It’s too soon to see how readers are reacting to the new strategy. However, Bert Roughton, managing editor of AJC, wrote an editorial echoing the central messaging of the campaign to positive reader feedback.

“We believe the best way to support an independent press is by sustaining a successful and independent business. We think advertisers want to be associated with a trusted brand and that our readers will pay to support great journalism,” he wrote.

Chown explains that marketing is a two-pronged approach. It is about how the customer feels about a brand and how they should interact with the brand.

“Brand marketing is about creating that halo and reason to believe,” she says. “It’s not about promoting products.”

She compares it to Budweiser, which brings to mind Americana and emotive feelings. Then, on the technical side, you have banners at gas stations promoting icy cold bottles.

“It’s the combination of the two,” she says. “Set up the story and the reason to believe, and at some point, ask for the order.”

The campaign marks a fundamental shift from just asking people to “subscribe now.” Instead, Chown says they want to reinforce the value proposition. “It’s worth knowing what’s really going on, and it’s worth your support.”